Hitting back at Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s claim about a Maharashtra village wanting to merge with his state, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday said no village has done that, and that there is no question of any border village “going anywhere".
Bommai had on Tuesday claimed that some village panchayats in Jat taluka of Maharashtra’s Sangli district had passed a resolution in the past seeking to merge with Karnataka as they were facing a severe water crisis.
The Karnataka government, he said, had devised schemes to help them by providing water, and his government was seriously considering the proposal of Jat villages.
Reacting to these remarks, Fadnavis said that presently, none of the villages raised such a demand and that “not a single village" of Maharashtra will go anywhere.
Talking to reporters, Fadnavis said that “these villages had introduced a resolution on the issue of water scarcity in 2012. Presently, none of the villages have introduced any resolution."
Since Eknath Shinde took over the reins, the government entered into an agreement with Karnataka to sort out the water issue, Fadnavis highlighted.
For this, a water supply scheme was made, and it is pending its approval. “We are now going to give approval to that scheme. Perhaps because of Covid, the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led government could not approve it," Fadnavis added.
Sudhir Mungantiwar, BJP leader and Maharashtra minister, blamed Jawaharlal Nehru for the long-pending dispute. “The dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is actually the gift of late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru," he said.
The case is now before the Supreme Court and any resolution passed by village panchayats would not affect the court’s verdict, he told reporters.
Apart from this, another Maharashtra minister Shambhuraj Desai said the Bommai’s’s claims should not be taken seriously.
What is the dispute?
This brings back to light, the decades-old border dispute over Belagavi (earlier Belgaum) between Maharashtra and Karnataka. The dispute goes back to the 1960s after the reorganisation of States on linguistic lines.
Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency as it has a sizable Marathi-speaking population. It also laid claim to 80 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of Karnataka.
On Monday, Bommai had said he had formed a formidable legal team of senior lawyers to deal with the border dispute when it comes up in the Supreme Court, according to PTI.
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra government appointed Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai as nodal ministers to coordinate with the state’s legal team regarding the pending court case.
Talking to reporters here, Desai said, “As Maharashtra has reconstituted its team to take forward the Karnataka border dispute in the Supreme Court, Bommai has come up with some ridiculous old demand. It should not be taken seriously. The villages in Jat tehsil had reportedly passed a resolution more than a decade back to pressurise the then state government to address their demand of water supply from the Krishna river." There is no such official documentation or resolution available with the Maharashtra government, he added.
“As per my information, the Maharashtra government has already cleared a proposal to supply water for irrigation to the arid parts of Jat tehsil. The cost of the project is around Rs 1,200 crore. Technical scrutiny of the project is underway,” Desai said.
With agency inputs
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