Explained | What is the Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | What is the Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute?” published in The Hindu on 2nd December 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court will hear arguments about the maintainability of a petition filed by the Maharashtra government challenging some provisions of the State Reorganisation Act,1956 and demanding 865 villages from five districts of Karnataka.

What is the Maharashtra and Karnataka dispute began?

Maharashtra and Karnataka have sparred over the inclusion of some towns and villages along the state border ever since the State Reorganisation Act was passed by the Parliament in 1956. The Act was based on the findings of the Justice Fazal Ali Commission, which was appointed in 1953.

In 1957, Maharashtra submitted a petition to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs stating its objection to Marathi-speaking areas being included in Karnataka. It claimed 814 villages and the three urban settlements of Belagavi, Karwar and Nippani as part of the Bombay Presidency before Independence. It filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2004, staking a claim over Belagavi.

Meanwhile, Karnataka has consistently argued that the inclusion of Belagavi as part of its territory is beyond dispute. It has cited the demarcation done on linguistic lines to substantiate its position. Karnataka has argued for the inclusion of areas in Kolhapur, Solapur and Sangli districts (falling under Maharashtra) in its territory.

What was the Central Government’s response?

The Union government set up a commission under retired Supreme Court judge Justice Mahajan in 1966. The report was expected to be a binding document for both states and put an end to the dispute.

The report recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra and that Belagavi (Belgaum) and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.

Maharashtra rejected the report, while Karnataka welcomed it. Karnataka argued that either the Mahajan Commission Report should be accepted fully, or the status quo maintained.

Why do tensions rise in Belagavi in winter?

In 2007, Karnataka started building the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha (Legislative Assembly) in Belagavi to assert its control over the region. The building was inaugurated in 2012, and the winter legislature sessions are held here annually.

The border issue springs up every time the Karnataka Assembly session is held in Belagavi. 

What is the recent controversy?

A war of words broke out between Karnataka and Maharashtra over the border row after the Karnataka CM said the government was seriously considering a resolution to include Jath taluk in western Maharashtra’s Sangli district in Karnataka.

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