Hubballi: Holding all political parties responsible for the neglect of North Karnataka, leaders of the region claimed that the recent statements of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy have only served as a trigger which has set the ball rolling for the agitation for separate statehood. Condemning the CM who had doubted the ability of people of the region to generate revenue for the development of the region if the statehood demand is met, senior advocate B.D. Hiremath, who had spearheaded the movement for a similar demand two decades ago and for setting up of the Dharwad High Court bench, has demanded a white papers on funds disbursed by all governments for the region since Karnataka unification.
Hiremath was the first leader to hoist the North Karnataka flag in Dharwad along with thousands of people from various organizations in 2000. He also lauded Kumaraswamy for taking the historic decision to construct the Suvarna Vidhan Soudha in Belagavi when he was heading the JD(S)-BJP coalition government more than a decade ago. But, he lamented that the administrative machinery has failed to reach the people of the region due to lack of decentralization of power as more than 40 departments have not shifted to the new legislative building.
Asserting that parties have not taken the problems of the region to a logical end after discussion in the Legislative session in Belagavi, he said all 96 legislators elected from the region have failed to work up to expectations. “The feeling of neglect is deeply entrenched in the minds of people of North Karnataka as all political parties and governments have given step-motherly treatment to the region. The recent statements of the CM have only revived the separate statehood demand and made people call for a bandh. Though BJP leaders like B. Sriramulu and Umesh Katti are also raising their voice for a separate state, they should first exert pressure on their own government at the Centre which has the authority to take such a decision,” Mr Hiremath said.
The leaders also contended that several demands including the implementation of major irrigation schemes, railway projects and the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal mentioned in the Dr Nanjundappa Committee report have remained unfulfilled. This has prompted a few farmer organizations to form own forums for North Karnataka and raise the demand for separate statehood as they did not get support from farmer leaders of south Karnataka.
Just two decades ago, a similar movement for setting up of the high xourt bench and South Western Railway division had turned into a movement for separate statehood when all governments failed to meet these two demands for several years. The agitation had spread to all taluks in North Karnataka. Now, the failure of the government to implement the Upper Krishna Project and the inability of political parties to resolve Mahadayi water dispute have forced the agitators to join hands to up their ante for statehood.
“North Karnataka continues to be backward which is clearly evident from the fact that the per capita income of Bengaluru and southern parts of the state is between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh while, that of the people in our region is less than Rs 66,000. Several backward districts including Kalaburgi, Koppal, Gadag and Raichur have been lagging behind in education, irrigation and infrastructure development. Though the demand for separate statehood is not a final solution, there is an urgent need to focus on redressing regional imbalance”, farmer leader Vikas Soppin said....