Asserting that the boundary dispute with Maharashtra was a settled issue, a defiant Karnataka Chief Minster B.S. Yediyurappa on Monday ruled out giving even an inch of land in Belagavi district to the neighbouring state.
"Maharashtra will not get a single inch of land from Belagavi district as the Mahajan report had long ago upheld our claim on the city and the border areas of the district, which are part of Karnataka," Mr Yediyurappa said in Bengaluru.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddav Thackeray had raised the boundary dispute last week.
"It is not fair for Maharashtra to rake up the boundary issue again and create confusion, as the Mahajan Commission's report in 1968 upheld Karnataka's claim on Belagavi and 800 villages in the border district," reiterated Mr Yediyurappa.
As the Mahajan report has been accepted as final, he said the state government would not allow Maharashtra to raise the issue again and create tension in the border areas.
"I appeal to the people of Karnataka to maintain peace and not get provoked by the political statements being made from across the border on the ownership of Belagavi and the villages in the district," said Mr Yediyurappa.
Belagavi, about 500km northwest of Bengaluru, was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency during British rule but was given to Mysore state during the reorganisation of the states on linguistic grounds in 1956. When Maharashtra made claims to the border district on the basis that there were more Marathi-speaking people living in Belagavi and its villages, which are part of Karnataka, the Central government constituted the Mahajan Commission in 1967 to settle the inter-state boundary dispute.
Though the Commission upheld Karnataka's claim on Belagavi and about 800 villages on demographic data showing more Kannada-speaking people residing there, Maharashtra filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Mahajan report. The case is still pending in the apex court.
The revival of the boundary row led to suspension of Karnataka bus services to Maharashtra's Kolhapur after a few state-run buses were stoned and damaged by miscreants last week.
Mr Thackeray has appointed Ministers Chhagan Bhjubal and Eknath Shinde to expedite the boundary dispute case in the Supreme Court.
He also raised the issue in the Maharashtra assembly, referring to some areas as "Karnataka-occupied Maharashtra".
Indo-Asian News Service