What is the border issue between Maharashtra and Karnataka?


Team Udayavani, Jan 29, 2021, 11:17 AM IST

The decades-old dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra over Belagavi district, has hit the headlines once again.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has said his government is committed to incorporating Marathi-speaking areas on the state’s border with Karnataka like Belagavi/Belgaum into Maharashtra.

Recently,Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray raised the border issue at a public event, demanding that the disputed areas be carved out into a union territory till differences are resolved.

Reacting to which,  Karnataka’s deputy chief minister Laxman Savadi said Mumbai should be made part of his state, and urged the Centre to at least declare it a Union Territory.

The border dispute between the two states has been pending before the Supreme Court for many years. However, Karnataka maintains Belagavi is its integral part and built Suvarna Vidhana Soudha there.

Maharashtra has been persistently claiming the regions which have majority Marathi speakers and were part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency.

After India’s independence in 1947, Belgaum came under Bombay State and according to the 1881 census, 64.39 per cent people in Belgaum were Kannada-speakers while 26.04 per cent spoke Marathi.

Later in the 1940s Marathi-speaking politicians dominated Belgaum and requested to include the district in the proposed Samyukta Maharashtra state.

The States Reorganisation Act of 1956, made Belgaum and 10 talukas of Bombay State a part of the then Mysore State, which was renamed as Karnataka in 1973.  The States Reorganisation Act, 1956 was a major reform of the boundaries of India’s states and territories, organising them along linguistic lines

However, opponents argue that Marathi-speakers outnumbered Kannadigas who lived there in 1956.

Under former Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahaja, the Mahajan Commission was formed in October 1966 to resolve the issue after the then Bombay government in September 1957 had lodged a protest with the Centre.

In August 1967, the Commission recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra and that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.

But, Maharashtra had rejected the report, calling it biased and illogical, and demanded another review whereas Karnataka welcomed the report, and has ever since continued to press for implementation, although this has not been formally done by the Centre.

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