Bommai Karnataka reservation
Karnataka Chief Minister B Bommai has demanded that the Maharashtra CM take immediate action to merge the villages of Jath and Akkalkot taluks with Karnataka | File Image

Border row heats up as over 50 Maharashtra villages demand merger with Karnataka

The decades-old Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute has again raised its head. While Maharashtra has been demanding that 800-odd villages of Karnataka’s Belagavi district be merged with it, the Karnataka government has retaliated by seeking the merger of around 53 villages of Sangli and Solapur districts with Karnataka.

What has embarrassed Maharashtra politicians is that 42 villages in the Jath taluk of Sangli district and 11 villages in Akkalkot taluk of Solapur district reportedly want to be merged with Karnataka. The Kannada-speaking people in the Jath and Akkalkot taluks have desired to be a part of Karnataka, lamenting the lack of basic amenities and negligent behaviour towards them by the local Maharashtra administration.

Lack of amenities

Complaining of not having proper roads, irrigation facilities and other requirements, they have conveyed the message to the Sangli district commissioner of their interest to be merged with Karnataka if the negligence towards them continues.

Recently, 11 villages of Solapur too showed their intent to move to Karnataka in correspondence with the Solapur collector’s office. They have submitted a resolution to permit people to go to Karnataka if basic facilities are be provided to them.

Also watch: Karnataka-Maharashtra border case skipped as SC takes up Jallikattu issue

Shegaon, Korsegaon, Kandewadi Khurd, Devikawathe, Kalkarjal, Shawal, Shegaon Budruk, Hilli, Alge, Mangrul and Dharsang village panchayats in Akkalkot taluka have demanded the merger with Karnataka.

It has been reported that Maharashtra industries minister Uday Samant tried to resolve the issue of Jath taluk by interacting with the drought victims of 42 villages. Sunil Potdar, president of Pani Sangharsh Samiti, said that if the water is made available to them, they will not move to Karnataka. Potdar had earlier said that the villages have to be merged with Karnataka as this was the right time for it.

Road to the temple

Among the issues raised by the villagers is that the road to the Danamma Temple in the Jath area, which is visited by thousands of pilgrims, is in a pathetic condition. The Karnataka government has released around Rs 12 crore to the temple trust in recent years. While the Karnataka government is providing crores of rupees for the development of schools and other projects in the border, the Maharashtra government is neglecting them completely, they complain.

The 42 villages that are demanding merger with Karnataka have a big majority Kannadiga population. Around 90 per cent of Kannadigas in these villages organised a grama sabha and urged the Maharashtra government for the merger with the neighbouring state 10 years ago during a protest in front of the Sangli DC office. Late Prof Chandrashekhar Patil (Champa), a famous writer, had also joined their protest earlier.

Now the pro-Kannada organisations, including Kannada Rakshana Vedike and other groups, are demanding that the Karnataka government take necessary steps to merge those villages with Karnataka.

These were the reasons for the war of words between Karnataka and Maharashtra leaders, including CM Bommai, Maharashtra chief minister and opposition leader and others. Both that states are claiming their stake over the region again. Bommai has warned Maharashtra leaders against visiting the area.

On Wednesday, a student waving the Kannada flag was attacked by a group of students in a valedictory function of an inter-school cultural fest, held at KLS Gogte PU college in Belagavi. The incident made the border district tense.

Bommai demands

Bommai has demanded that the Maharashtra CM take immediate action to merge the villages of Jath and Akkalkot with Karnataka. He has also asked the Maharashtra authorities to take strict action against the persons who paste black paint on KSRTC buses and disturb the commuters who travel between Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Also read: ‘Don’t visit Belagavi’: Bommai tells Maharashtra ministers amid raging border row

Meanwhile, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde has decided to cancel the visit of two of his ministers — Chandrakanth Patil and Shambhuraj Desai — to Belagavi to discuss the border issue with the leaders of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (EMS) leaders. The visit was cancelled to avoid further escalation of the border dispute.

Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis informed the media about the cancellation of the tour. The Supreme Court will decide on the border dispute, he said.

The development came as Karnataka chief secretary sent a letter to his Maharashtra counterpart stating that the two cabinet ministers should not visit Belgaum due to the law-and-order situation. Also, the DC had invoked prohibitory orders in the border district and decided not to allow any meetings of the Maharashtra ministers in Belagavi.

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