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12 Maharashtra villages want to join Telengana
As the Central government flip-flops over the demand for a separate Telengana state, 12 Vidarbha villages are demanding they be included in the proposed Telangana state. The reason, the residents explain, is years of neglect by the Maharashtra government.
Located along the border of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, these tribal villages in Chandrapur district are faced with a strange predicament: two of the panchayats, Paramdoli and Indiranagar, have two panchayat bodies, one of each state.
Most residents even have ration cards from both the states. For long they were caught in a border dispute and were officially included in Maharashtra in 2006 following a Supreme Court judgement. But the Maharashtra government is yet to provide the villages with basic facilities like drinking water, healthcare and education. The Andhra government, on the other hand, provides us with bpl (below poverty line) ration and ambulance service through a toll-free phone number, said Nishikant Sonkamble, a villager. Several houses have also been built in the villages under the Andhra government’s housing schemes, he added.
Jiwati tehsil bordering Andhra Pradesh suffers from government negligence, said social activist Paromita Goswami who works with the non-profit, Elgar. “The 12 disputed villages are at least better off because they receive some benefit from the Andhra government.” Priya Sonkamble, Zilla Parishad member, agreed. Residents of these villages value their Maharashtraian identity, but they want to join Telangana only because of state apathy, she said.
Now with a separate state seeming likely, Sonkamble said the sarpanches of both states are trying to woo the adamant villagers. The villagers’ demand has created a stir in the political circles. Maharashtra rural development minister Jayant Patil squarely blamed the district administration for failing to provide basic facilities and promised to visit the area.