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‘Revival of age-old border row between Maharashtra and Karnataka’

  • Category
    Governance
  • Published
    9th Feb, 2021

Recently, a book has been published by the state government of Maharashtra, titled ‘Maharashtra-Karnataka Seemavad: Sangharsh Aani Sankalp’ (Maharashtra-Karnataka Boundary Dispute: Struggle and Pledge). The book is a collection of articles, news, and other material on the demand that Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka should be integrated into Maharashtra.

Context

Recently, a book has been published by the state government of Maharashtra, titled ‘Maharashtra-Karnataka Seemavad: Sangharsh Aani Sankalp’ (Maharashtra-Karnataka Boundary Dispute: Struggle and Pledge). The book is a collection of articles, news, and other material on the demand that Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka should be integrated into Maharashtra.

Background

  • The dispute began when the erstwhile Bombay Presidency had present-day Karnataka districts of Vijayapura, Belagavi, Dharwad, and Uttara-Kannada.
  • In 1948, the Belgaum municipality requested that the district be incorporated into the proposed Maharashtra state.
  • But with the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, Belgaum and 10 talukas of Bombay State became a part of the then Mysore State.
  • This happened because states were divided based on linguistic and administrative lines.
  • This long-smoldering inter-state dispute resurfaces from time to time.

Analysis

What is the dispute all about?

  • The genesis of the dispute lies in the reorganization of states along linguistic and administrative lines in 1956.
  • The erstwhile Bombay Presidency, a multilingual province, included the present-day Karnataka districts of Vijayapura, Belagavi, Dharwad, and Uttara Kannada.
  • In 1948, the Belgaum municipality requested that the district, having a predominantly Marathi-speaking population, be incorporated into the proposed Maharashtra state.
  • However, The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 made Belgaum and 10 talukas of Bombay State a part of the then Mysore State (which was renamed Karnataka in 1973).
  • While demarcating borders, the Reorganisation of States Commission sought to include talukas with a Kannada-speaking population of more than 50 percent in Mysore.
  • But the opponents of the region’s inclusion in Mysore have maintained that in 1956, Marathi-speakers outnumbered Kannada-speakers in those areas.

Mahajan Commission

  • Eventually, the Centre formed the Mahajan Commission, comprising representatives of both Maharashtra and then Mysore, for a resolution in 1966. 
  • The commission in 1967 recommended handing over 264 villages to Maharashtra, which was formed in 1960 while leaving Belgaum and 247 other villages with the southern state.
  • However, Maharashtra rejected the report calling it illogically

What is claimed by both states?

  • Maharashtra has for long claimed that certain areas that are a part of Karnataka - Belagavi, Karwar, and Nippani – should be handed over to Maharashtra. The state contends that the majority of the population in these areas is Marathi-speaking.
  • Karnataka, on the other hand, maintains that Belagavi is an integral part of the state and has built the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, modeled after the Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat in Bengaluru, where a legislative session is held once a year.

What is the present situation?

  • Maharashtra has continued to demand that 814 villages from Karnataka based on the theory of village being the unit of calculation, contiguity, and enumerating linguistic population in each village.
  • Then in 2004, the Maharashtra government moved the Supreme Court seeking resolution of the border dispute under Article 131(b) of the Constitution.
    • This case is still pending in the apex court.
  • The Karnataka government too has made moves emphasizing its territory over Belgaum by constructing an assembly building and holding its winter session there annually.
  • It also formally changed the name of Belgaum to Belagavi in 2014. 

Article 131

  • Article 131 of the Constitution of India vests the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction over any dispute arising between the states or between the center and state.
  • SC has original jurisdiction in any dispute:
    1. between the Government of India and one or more States
    2. between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
    3. Between two or more States

(if the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends)

Major inter-state disputes in India

Assam – Nagaland

  • Boundary: 434 kilometer
  • Area of dispute: Assam districts of Sivasagar, Jorhat, and Golaghat.
  • Commissions: Sundaram Commission in 1971 and Shastri Commission in 1985

Gujarat – Rajasthan

  • Area of dispute: Mangadh Hill, located on the border of the two states. Gujarat claims half of the hill, while Rajasthan claims the entire hill is theirs.

Karnataka- Kerala

  • Area of dispute: district of Kasaragod
  • Committee: Supreme Court, Justice M. Mahajan (1967)

Orissa – West Bengal

  • Area of dispute: 82 villages under Jaleswar and Bhogarai blocks in Balasore district

Assam – Meghalaya

  • Area of dispute: Mikir Hills
  • Others
  • Bihar and UP: The inter-state boundary between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh continued to fluctuate due to the frequent change in the course of rivers.
  • Haryana and UP: Likewise, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh's fluctuating boundary was sought to be solved in the 1970s. But issues are still not resolved.
  • Haryana and Punjab: Punjab and Haryana are locked over the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, and part of the Fazilka sub-district of Punjab to Haryana. 
  • Orissa and Andhra Pradesh: Between Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, the boundary dispute relates to 63 villages falling presently in Orissa. But neither government has asked for Central intervention.
  • Orissa and Jharkhand: Similarly, Orissa and Jharkhand have a boundary dispute relating to seven villages of the Mayurbhang and Keonjhar districts. Orissa has claimed territories in the former princely states of Seraikela and Kharsuan, now in Jharkhand.
  • Orissa and Chattishgarh: Orissa has locked with Chhattisgarh over three villages of Naupada district. Orissa and West Bengal are also stalemated over five villages of Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts of Orissa.
  • Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand: Himachal Pradesh is contesting Uttarakhand over six places of Dehradun district, adjoining its Shimla district.
  • Arunachal Pradesh and Assam: Arunachal Pradesh claims territory in Assam based on history.
  • Meghalaya and Assam: Assam and Meghalaya don't have a major boundary dispute, the reply said. But Nagaland claims 5,000 sq miles of territory in Assam "on historical grounds".

The inter-state border disputes in the country need to get resolved soon. And it can only happen when the government finds a lasting solution to border disputes.

Way forward

The State government of Maharashtra is now planning to organize a Maharashtra government conference in the disputed areas, enlisting more beneficiaries from this region for schemes of the Maharashtra government, and creating a database of all such persons who can be mobilized to support the state in the tussle. 

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