Maharashtra-Karnataka Border Dispute


    In Context

    • Recently, tensions rose along the Maharashtra-Karnataka border after vehicles from both states were attacked and defaced.

    More about the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute

    • Beginning in reorganisation of states:
      • The Maharashtra and Karnataka boundary dispute has its origins in the reorganisation of states along linguistic lines via the State Reorganisation Act, 1956. 
        • MES (Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti): The MES (Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti) came into existence in 1948.
        • It had the sole aim of pushing for integration of Belgaum with Maharashtra during the reorganization of states.
      • Maharashtra’s demand:
        • Since its creation on May 1, 1960, Maharashtra has claimed that 865 villages, including Belagavi (then Belgaum), Carvar and Nipani, should be merged into Maharashtra. 
        • Significance of the demand:
          • The claim of the pro-Marathi groups is that Belagavi is a largely Marathi-speaking region with many parts being exclusively Marathi speaking.
          • It claims that the region should be a part of Maharashtra instead of Karnataka which is a Kannada-speaking state.

    • Karnataka’s stand:
      • Karnataka, however, has refused to part with its territory.

    Union Government’s attempts to resolve the issue

    • Mahajan Commission:
      • In October 1966, the Centre constituted the Mahajan Commission headed by the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Meher Chand Mahajan, at the insistence of Maharashtra. 
      • Recommendations of the commission:
        • While rejecting Maharashtra’s claim over Belagavi (then Belgaum), the commission recommended 247 villages/places, including Jatt, Akkalkote and Solapur, to be made part of Karnataka. 
        • It also declared 264 villages /places, including Nippani, Khanapur and Nandagad, to be made part of Maharashtra.
      • Rejection by Maharashtra:
        • The commission’s report was outrightly rejected by Maharashtra. 
        • Reason:
          • Successive governments in Maharashtra maintained that the commission had not adequately addressed its concerns, Karnataka saw the commission ruling in its favour.
      • Several attempts were subsequently made to resolve the row but in vain. 

    Current status of the dispute

    • Petition in the Supreme Court:
      • In 2004, the Maharashtra government filed a petition in the Supreme Court, staking claim over Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka, which contested the claim. 
      • Exploiting public sentiments, Karnataka changed the name of Belgaum to Belagavi and made it the second capital of the state.
    • Need of legal solution:
      • Both Karnataka and Maharashtra reckon that the complex issue will not be resolved politically, and requires a legal solution.

    Issue of political benefits 

    • Both Maharashtra and Karnataka have used the border dispute to stoke regional sentiments during elections. 
      • In Maharashtra, the boundary dispute is part of every political party’s election manifesto. 
      • It even features in the governor’s annual address to the joint session of the state legislative assembly and council. 
      • Setting aside their ideological differences, political parties in Maharashtra have found a common cause in the Maharashtra-Karnataka boundary row. 

    Inter-state border disputes in India

    • Assam-Mizoram:
      • The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram is a legacy of two British-era notifications of 1875 and 1933.
      • The 1875 notification differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar and the other demarcated boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
      • Assam, on the other hand, wants the boundary demarcated in 1986 (based on the 1933 notification).
    • Assam-Meghalaya:
      • Assam and Meghalaya have a longstanding dispute in 12 stretches of their 884-km shared border.
      • Disputed areas for resolution identified are:
        • Three areas contested between West Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya and Kamrup in Assam.
        • Two between RiBhoi in Meghalaya and Kamrup-Metro.
        • One between East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya and Cachar in Assam.
    • Assam Nagaland:
      • As with the case of Assam–Mizoram, the Assam-Nagaland dispute, has a decades-old history which was worsened by the creation of Nagaland as a separate state in 1963.
      • Territorial claims of Nagaland in Assam include parts of Golaghat district, Jorhat district and Sibsagar district in the Disputed Area Belt (DAB).
    • Haryana-Himachal Pradesh:
      • The Parwanoo region has had the spotlight over the border dispute between the two states. 
      • It is next to the Panchkula district of Haryana and the state has claimed parts of the land in Himachal Pradesh as its own.
    • Himachal Pradesh-Ladakh: 
      • Himachal and Ladakh lay claim to Sarchu, an area on the route between Leh and Manali. 
      • Sarchu is in between Himachal’s Lahul and Spiti district and Leh district in Ladakh.
    • Arunachal Pradesh-Assam: 
      • Arunachal’s grievance is that the re-organisation of North Eastern states unilaterally transferred several forested tracts in the plains that had traditionally belonged to hill tribal chiefs and communities to Assam.

    Way ahead

    • Significance of special rights:
      • Carving out political units that neatly correspond with various linguistic groups is impossible in India. 
      • As a result, almost all States have linguistic minorities that are accorded special rights. 
    • Need of harmony:
      • It is wise to defer to the Court’s decision on any dispute, but harmony can be achieved only through embracing and promoting a political culture that is respectful of diversity that cannot be neatly demarcated.

    Source: TH