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Demand for separate Vidarbha gains momentum

Source: PTI
December 13, 2009 17:42 IST
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The issue of separate Vidarbha has gained momentum after the dramatic developments over Telangana issue and senior Congress Member of Parliament from Nagpur Vilas Muttemwar seizing the opportunity has written to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh reiterating the need for creation of separate Vidarbha.

Giving a befitting reply to those opposing the demand, Muttemwar told PTI that a section of leadership was against it and talk of martyrdom of 105 persons for the cause of united Maharashtra (Samyukta Maharashtra agitation).

"But has anyone thought of 7,000 farmers suicide in Vidarbha from year 2004?" he asked.

Backwardness of region has put many obstacles in the development of the region, he said. "How long the Shiv Sena will try to emotionally blackmail the people of Vidarbha on Marathi language issue. Vidarbha is basically in the Hindi belt and was merged with Maharashtra when the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru urged the people of the then Central Province & Berar to join Maharashtra," Muttenmwar said.

"There is no logic in one state-one language formula. How can you ignore that there are now more than one Hindi speaking states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and others," Muttemwar said.

"Creation of Telangana will result in two Telugu states. Thus, there is nothing wrong in having two Marathi speaking states (Maharashtra and Vidarbha)," he observed.

Muttemwar said that Vidarbha is deprived of many privileges that a region from a backward state like would get, because it falls under Maharashtra which is known as a developed state.

"As per the 12th finance commission recommendations, each backward state was entitled for Rs 8,000 crore annual financial assistance. Vidarbha can very well prosper with the inflow of money and is economical viable. Vidarbha was producing 6500 MW electricity, has rich coal and mineral deposits," he said.

He also said that the coal royalty paid by the Western Coalfields for extracting coal to the tune of Rs 500 crores goes to Maharashtra. "Besides manganese ore company's dividends are paid to state. Vidarbha will be able to sell surplus power generated and earn handsome revenue," he noted.

Muttemwar said the finance commission grant can be utilised for better road connectivity, infrastructure developments, education and health care system.

"Vidarbha has rich forest cover due to thick forests in Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts. Forest produce was also another sources of revenue. Vidarbha has all necessary infrastructure facilities like the state assembly, high court, Reserve Bank of India, minister's cottages and Nagpur has developed in to an important city in the country now over a period of time," Muttemwar said.

On the political leadership, Muttemwar said that Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray had promised the people of Vidarbha in 1997 that if backlog of Vidarbha was not removed within two years, he would himself take lead and create separate Vidarbha.

The protagonists of Vidarbha statehood have fought all these years and have grown old, he noted.

"For 50 years now I have been associated with the movement and how long should I fight for carving out Vidarbha state," Muttemwar said.

"Today, seven Lok Sabha members and 50 MLAs are in favour of statehood to Vidarbha. What else you want?" he asked, adding the opinion of these elected representative should be taken as the public opinion and the sentiment must be respected.

"Violence is not the only recourse, we will not take it," he added.

He, however, pointed out that today three-districts of Vidarbha were Naxal infested. "If separate state is not carved out, Naxalites may spread their network to entire Vidarbha in next 25 years," Muttemwar apprehended.

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