Border dispute between Karnataka & Maharashtra

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said he would take steps to stop the Maharashtra government from implementing its flagship health insurance scheme in all 865 dispute border villages in Karnataka.

Background of this dispute

  • Maharashtra and Karnataka have sparred over the inclusion of some towns and villages along the state border ever since the passage of State Reorganisation Act of 1956, which in turn was based on the findings of the Justice Fazal Ali Commission, which was appointed in 1953.
  • In 1956, Mysore state (later renamed Karnataka) was formed, and differences between the state and the neighbouring Bombay state (later Maharashtra) erupted.
  • Since its creation in 1960, Maharashtra has claimed that 865 villages, including Belagavi (then Belgaum), Carvar and Nipani, should be merged into Maharashtra (these areas are predominantly Marathi-speaking). Karnataka, however, has refused to part with its territory.

Centres response

  • The Mahajan Commission (led by former Chief Justice of India Mehr Chand Mahajan) was set up by the Government of India in October 1966 to look into the border dispute.
  • It submitted its report in 1967, where it recommended that 264 villages should be transferred to Maharashtra, and that Belgaum and 247 villages should remain with Karnataka.
  • Maharashtra rejected the report, calling it biased and illogical. Despite demands from Karnataka, the Centre never implemented the report.
Exploiting public sentiments, Karnataka changed the name of Belgaum to Belagavi and made it the second capital of the state.In 2007, Karnataka started building the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha (Legislative Assembly) in Belagavi to assert its control over the region (winter legislature sessions are held here annually).  

What is the status of the border dispute now?

  • In 2004, the Maharashtra government filed a petition in the Supreme Court, staking claim over Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka. However, the border row has been pending before the Supreme Court since 2004.
  • In 2010, the Centre in its affidavit had stated that the transfer of certain areas to then Mysore (now Karnataka) was neither arbitrary nor wrong.

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