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The decades-old dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra over the Belagavi or as Maharashtra likes to call it the Belgaum district, is back in the headlines.
Note: Currently, Belgaum or Belagavi is part of Karnataka but is claimed by Maharashtra.
What is Belgaum Border Dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra?
At the time of Independence, the region of Belagavi (the Belgaum) was part of the Bombay presidency.
However, the region was integrated with the state of Mysore (now Karnataka) during the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines.
What is the basis of Maharashtra’s claim on Belgaum?
The essential claim of pro-Marathi groups is that Belagavi is a largely Marathi-speaking region with many parts being exclusively Marathi speaking and that the region should be a part of Maharashtra.
Moreover, Maharashtra also points out the historical fact that the revenue records in these Marathi-speaking areas are also kept in Marathi.
What is Karnataka’s position on this?
Karnataka has argued that the settlement of boundaries as per the States Reorganisation Act is final. The boundary of the State was neither tentative nor flexible.
Hence, the State argues that the issue would reopen border issues that have not been contemplated under the Act and that such a demand should not be permitted.
What were the steps taken to resolve the Belgaum Dispute?
Four-Man Committee: In 1960, both States agreed to set up a four-man committee with two representatives from each State. However, the committee could not arrive at a unanimous decision.
Mahajan Commission: The government of India formed the Mahajan Commission under former chief justice Mehr Chand Mahajan in 1966. The Commission in its report granted 264 villages in the disputed region to Maharashtra and 247 villages to Karnataka. However, the commission ruled that the Belgaum should continue in Karnataka. While Maharashtra rejected the report, Karnataka demanded the status quo.
Supreme Court: In 2006, the Maharashtra government filed a petition in the Supreme Court, staking claim over Belgaum city. The Supreme Court held that the issue should be resolved through mutual negotiation and that linguistic criteria should not be considered as it may create more practical problems. The case is still being heard by the Supreme Court.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Explained: Latest flashpoint in Belagavi border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka’ published in Indian Express on 29th Dec 2021.