Belagavi, Karwar and Nipani are making headlines again. Neighbours Karnataka and Maharashtra are, for the nth time, at loggerheads over the ownership of 814 villages along the border between the two states.
This time Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray demanded that these Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka be declared a union territory till the dispute is solved. Karnataka took the rhetoric a notch higher with its deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi demanding that Mumbai should be part of his state.
"Mumbai should be included in Karnataka. Until that is done, I request Central govt to declare Mumbai as a Union Territory," Savadi said on Thursday, according to ANI.
Last year too Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had said these areas should be part of his state. "Late Balasaheb had struggled his entire life for rights of common man. He always dreamt about the overall development of Maharashtra & (to) make a united Maharashtra including Belgaum, Karwar and Nipani. So, let us decide to fulfil this dream.”
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddiyurappa responded by calling Pawar’s comments an attempt to “incite fire”.
As demands and counter-demands get louder, Opoyi takes a look at the root of the problem and where it started:
Genesis of the dispute
Belgaum was earlier part of British India's Bombay Presidency that included present-day Gujarat, Maharashtra and parts of North Karnataka. After India became independent in 1947, the district became a part of the Bombay State. In 1948, the Belgaum Municipality requested that the region be a part of Maharashtra state. This was rejected.
The Maharashtra government in 1957 lodged a protest with the Centre, which set up a commission under former Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan in October 1966.
The Commission submitted its report in August 1967. The report recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra and that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.
This was expectedly rejected by Maharashtra but Karnataka accepted the proposal and demanded that it be implemented earliest. The Centre, however, pushed it to the backburner.
Over to Supreme Court
Maharashtra continues to claim over 814 villages along the border. Successive governments in the state have stuck to the demand that these areas by handed over to Maharashtra.
In 2004, Maharashtra moved the Supreme Court seeking control over the disputed areas. This case is still pending in the apex court.
The current Maha Vikas Aghadi government has even appointed ministers as coordinators to oversee the state’s efforts to get control of the area.