It was no surprise that former Advocate General of the state Shreehari Aney’s controversial remarks that Marathwada region should also get separated from Maharashtra did not evoke a response from the region.
The central Maharashtra region comprising eight districts is probably as backward as Vidarbha, except a few pockets like its headquarters Aurangabad.
A large part of the region still does not have adequate infrastructure and agriculture is in bad shape.
This year, the region is facing one of the worst droughts in the state’s history and the local administration is wondering how to supply drinking water to the people, as most dams are running dry.
Still, people in Marathwada are not thinking that having a separate state will be the one-stop solution to their problems.
Aney was not wrong when he said Marathwada is probably worse in terms of backwardness than Vidarbha region. He argued that both the regions had suffered because of the politicians from western Maharashtra who grabbed all the resources and used them to improve their areas.
This can be described as half-truth. Not only Vidarbha and Marathwada, but lots of other areas in Maharashtra too have got a raw deal. There are several areas in Konkan, north Maharashtra and western Maharashtra where things have not changed much in years.
Infrastructure remains pathetic, agriculture is not a profitable option owing to the lack of irrigation and people have to migrate to big cities for employment.
In the past six decades, the development in Maharashtra is largely confined to certain areas. Most industries are located in the Mumbai-Pune-Thane-Nashik region and around major cities like Aurangabad and Nagpur. Beyond these areas, there are very few places where one will see manufacturing units.
The prosperity in agriculture too is limited to certain areas—not even entire districts. The state’s most prosperous agriculture belt begins with Nashik-Ahmednagar in north and further in the western part from Pune and ends at Kolhapur-Solapur districts.
Even this belt has several areas that fall in the rain-shadow and continue to suffer owing to bad agro-infrastructure.
If such pockets of development are separated, the rest of Maharashtra is as less developed as several other states in India.
A large number of migrants coming to cities such as Mumbai and Pune are from other parts of Maharashtra, which indicates that there are not many employment opportunities available or agriculture is not profitable. In fact, Maharashtra continues to have high internal migration from rural areas to cities like Mumbai than that from other states. Nandurbar in north Maharashtra is one of the most backward districts in India.
There is great inequality between most developed and most backward areas of the state. Clearly, it is failure of the successive governments in the state and their inadequate—sometimes even flawed policies of development.
This is why, when Aney speaks about getting a raw deal at the hands of the people in power as a reason to break away from the state, it doesn’t convince many in Marathwada.
However, if the under-developed areas continue to remain neglected, there could be problems in the coming days.
What politicians and even bureaucrats need to understand is that the people in such areas are expecting changes in the conditions they are staying in.
If that is not happening, there are bound to be reactions. Today, Aney’s remarks over statehood to Marathwada did not yield any response, but tomorrow, things may change. And could not be limited to Marathwada.