Should Karwar-Sindhudurg be Goa?

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
16 October 2010 13:23 IST

On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of our Prudent TV channel, I had moderated Mahasangram, a mega debate, on the issue of extending Goa’s boundaries – Sindhudurg from Maharashtra as well as Karwar and Joida from Karnataka – the border areas. It is not an issue in Goa, but definitely a matter of concern in these border districts of our neighbouring states. Having been neglected by their respective state governments, people from all these three districts appear desperate for ‘separation’.

Principal Mahendra Natekar is the president of Samyukta Konkan Sangharsh Samiti. Their effort is receiving quite a good response to make Konkan a separate state. Goa is not on their prime list, though they argue that the whole Konkan coast includes areas from Mumbai to Sindhudurg to Goa to Karwar. They call themselves Konkani (or Malwani), but consider Marathi as their mother tongue.

B B Rane, of the Goa Konkani Rajya Ekikaran Manch from Karwar, however firmly states that Konkani is their mother tongue. The culture is similar and the geographical contiguity, besides historical factors, makes it a stronger case under the criteria laid down for state reorganisation.

Goans from different strata do not deny this fact. But they differ on making it a practical reality. PWD minister Churchill Alemao, during the debate, kept on stressing that we will get 2622 sq kms of land, which has six times more forest area than Goa’s existing forest. BJP MLA Damu Naik however eyes for around two lakh population, which would be 15 per cent addition to Goa’s population.

One has his eye on the virgin land while another one perhaps hopes that it would be a potential vote bank to make the saffron party stronger.

Leaders like Matanhy Saldhana and Adv Radharao Gracias have strongly opposed the idea. “We don’t want to be expansionists when we ourselves had opposed expansionism of Maharashtra to merge Goa”, they opine.

Arguments may be many, but it is a fact that Christians in Goa have already reduced from 35 per cent in 1961 to 27 per cent in 2001 census, primarily due to huge amount of Hindu migration from outside Goa. If Karwar and Joida are included, this percentage may slip down further to 23 per cent. Ultimately, Christian is a strong political force in Goa today, especially due to its predominance in thickly populated coastal areas of Salcete, Tiswadi and Bardez talukas.

Does that mean the idea should be outrightly rejected, or considered positively on scientific grounds? What should be the criteria while rejecting or promoting it? Social? Cultural? Historical? Economic? Or simply Political?

And what’s the reality?

Sindhudurg is the smallest district of Maharashtra. Goa is smaller than this smallest district of our neighbouring state. Compared to our area of 3702 sq kms, Sindhudurg is 5207 sq kms long and wide. Comparatively, however, its population is less – only 8.69 lakh, but enough to shoot up Goa’s population to 22 lakh, with much larger area, almost 1.4 times larger than Goa.

However, more than half of Sindhudurg population is already living in Mumbai. They are totally integrated with Maharashtra, in terms of language, culture, social behaviour and even the economy. On face value, thus, it appears to be a mismatch.

But not Karwar and Joida. It’s an area of 2622 sq kms for hardly two lakh population. It has more forest than human habitation. The areas have lots of dams on river Kali. It has its own power generating units, including the Atomic Energy plant at Kaiga. Karwar is equally a well-developed commercial centre. Its language and culture is also synonymous to Goa.

Our veteran writer Damodar Mauzo, during the debate, raised a doubt. “What is the amount of penetration of Kannadigas in Karwar in recent years?”

A valid question indeed. Because the Goa Konkani Rajya Ekikaran Manch activists were recently beaten up by the Kannadigas when they demanded merger into Goa. It however cannot be considered an indication that Kannadigas have over numbered Konkanis in Karwar city. The attackers had the government support while the protesters were few. It was a clear indication that the Konkanis are not mobilised enough to make it a strong and visible people’s movement.

As far as the argument regarding Kannadigas in Karwar is concerned, like in another disputed town of Belgaum, the Karnataka government has consciously appointed Kannadiga staff in all the government establishments in the district of Karwar, including the police force. Compared to this Kannadigas in Karwar, however, Goa may have more Kannadigas in the towns like Vasco, Ponda and Margao alone.

Sitaram Tengse, a veteran journalist, while supporting the demand of merger of Karwar-Joida into Goa, raised a valid issue. Portuguese did not rule ‘whole’ Goa for 450 years. It was only in three talukas of Old Conquests – Bardez, Tiswadi and Salcete (later split into Mormugao). The rest of the seven talukas – the New Conquests - were under Portuguese rule for only 150 years. The southern side like Ponda, Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona were ruled by Sondekar. The northern areas like Sattari, Bicholim and Pedne were under the siege of Khemraj Sawant Bhosle of Sawantwadi.

His question was simple: If Sondekar and Bhosle had not surrendered to Portuguese till Goa was liberated, would Goa have been a “state” consisting of only four talukas of the Old Conquests – Salcete, Mormugao, Tiswadi and Bardez?

What is Goa? The state defined by the Portuguese and ruled by them alone? Or also the area which did not become part of Goa but was a part of the same language, culture and geographical part historically?

I come from Canacona. The name of this taluka itself comes from the ancient word called Konn, some historians say. Karwar is also historically one of the five Konn. The other Konn, they say, are Malle Konn, Kathin Konn and Han Konn, situated today in Karwar district.

 The original settlers of Goa are Gawada, Kunbi and Velip communities. In Canacona (Kaad Konn?), their main temple is Shri Mallikarjun (called Mallkhajan in ancient days) at Shristhal. Shisha Ranni is the most famous feast of this temple. The Tarangam of this feast, traditionally, go up to its border and come. This border is called Taranga Mett, which falls beyond Karwar city, at Baithakol, almost on the border of today’s Karwar taluka.

Historical facts thus prove beyond doubt that Karwar was part of pre-Portuguese Goa.

While Goa was liberated in 1961, a border dispute had emerged in Belgaum as well as Karwar, Joida (called Supa which was submerged due to Kali dam) and Haliyal. While Belgaum was Marathi-speaking area, the language of education in Karwar-Supa-Haliyal was also Marathi, just like Goa. They were thus demanding detachment of these areas from Karnataka and its merger into Maharashtra.

Soon after reorganisation of Maharashtra and Gujarat states in 1960, the agitation of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti to merge Belgaum, Khanapur, Karwar, Supa and Haliyal into Maharashtra heated up. Government of India then appointed a commission under country’s third Chief Justice of India Meher Chand Mahajan.

The Mahajan Commission report, submitted in 1967, clearly stated that Belgaum and surrounding disputed areas are Marathi-speaking while the areas of Karwar-Supa-Haliyal are Konkani-speaking. Konkani was officially not recognised as a language by any official body till then. But the movement to establish it as a literary language and to unite all Konkani people in the country had started from Karwar, by hosting the first ever Akhil Bharatiya Konkani Sahitya Parishad in 1939.

It was initially a proposal of Konkan Rajya, mooted by veteran Gandhian Kakasaheb Kalelkar. Gyanpeeth awardee Ravindra-bab Kelekar kept on echoing it throughout his life. “My ultimate dream is to see complete Konkani state by extending Goa’s boundaries”, he was saying.

During pre-liberation era, Karwar, Belgaum and Mumbai were three educational centres for Goans. After liberation, educated people from Karwar got the leverage to take up government jobs in Goa, especially in the educational sector. Since the administrative powers remained in the hands of Karwaris for almost three decades since then, over half of Karwar is already settled in Goa today. The rest of the Karwar is now demanding its geographical merger into Goa.

But is it possible? Do we need it? Why people of Karwar and Sindhudurg want to merge into Goa? Is it a cultural suffocation? The mega debate indicated clearly that it is not an urge but a solution they are seeking since they are neglected by their respective state governments. Goa is a safety valve for them, not an issue of loss of their cultural identity, at least at this stage.

Perhaps that is the reason Damodar Mauzo supported the long-echoed proposal of a Konkani ‘cultural state’ of all the Konkani areas in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala, along with Goa, without disturbing its geographical and political boundaries. It’s a new concept of running a ‘cultural state’ with its  headquarters in Goa, while physically being in their respective states for all practical purposes. This could be the most practical ground to study the realities and judge how much cultural integration still exists among the Konkanis spread all over India.

Secondly, this is a proposal to detach some parts of the state and merge it into another. There have been state divisions, like Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh etc but not otherwise. There is neither a strong case nor enough number in both the Houses of Parliament to get this amendments passed to merge Sindhudurg or Karwar into Goa.

It’s definitely not a case for Goa to fight, though Goans may support the proposal in principle. Secondly, it’s definitely a case for the Malwanis and Karwaris to build it as a ‘people’s movement’ in their respective areas. They may have to also build it as a political movement and seeking voter’s mandate by contesting elections. Unless that happens, no political support would be mobilised. And unless this political support is mobilised, no amendment would be even considered in the Parliament. And unless the amendment comes, no lobbying for or against it could be worked upon.

The ball is thus in the courts of Sindhudurg and Karwar....

 

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Sandesh Prabhudesai

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of goanews.com, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of HCN and Prudent, Goa's TV channels and Editor of Sunaparant, besides working as a reporter for Goan and national dailies & weeklies in English and Marathi since 1987. He also reports for the BBC. He is also actively involved in literary and cultural activities.

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Previous Comments

Its very good thinking because i lived in sindhudurg as cimpsred to any part of maharashtra sindhudurg is always neglected.no hospital facility not good education facility.And always supported by goa govt incase of emergency in hospital.it would be good for sindhudurg people if it is merged in goa.also it is loss for maharashta..but msharashtra govt doing nothing for sindhudurg people none of facilities provided..so will be good if it is done

- priyanka, mumbai | 14 th October 2016 21:24

 

We are not asking anyone land to be part of konka state, we are just asking to return back our own konkani land. Goa is just a part of konkan where portugese ruled. but konkani land is from Ratnagiri till bhatkal where konkani is spoken till today. when maharastra can have marathi, kannadigas can have karnataka why shouldnt we konkanis should live under one umbrella ? there is large chunk of konkanis in Tulunadu (Mangalore, Udupi and Kasargod) and kochi (Kerala). we dont want to occupy or conquor Tulu or malayalis land... we just want our konkani land back to us. KOnkanis who support for our cause please join our page in face book . https://m.facebook.com/StateOfKonkan

- Vishal Pai, Honnavar, North Kanara | 02 nd December 2014 17:48

 

Hi,

I feel its wrong to divide ourselves on basis of language. There are a lot of Konkani people in mangalore and other regions. Historically, these people migrated to these areas because of invasion in north by other muslim rulers (refer wikipedia).

My question to the author,

1. When people accepted all konkanis as neighbours and friends, why bring up this topic and divide people?

2. Cant we all live in harmony? If you observe, Karnataka and Kerala are the only states after goa which has konkani as a language in schools. Infact, Viswa konkani sangh is in mangalore. Will you one day ask mangalore too? Where will Tulu people go?

3. What is situation of Konkani in Goa? Why is marati given so much importance in whole goa when you stive for konkani? Shouldn't we first improve the situation inside and point at others?

We are all friendly, just to exploit the land and make profit from it a lot of states fight. Especially for Belagavi.

Imagine, tomorrow 2lakh tamilians come and settle in goa. Then they start asking, oh there are more tamils here. lets join it to tamil nadu!

So you accept that?

- Kiran, Pune | 29 th October 2013 13:20

 

Greater Goa or the Western Indian State of Konkan will be a great state of all the Konkani speaking people. Its population will be around below 20 lakh, it will be a place with adequate natural resources and sufficient area. IT will be an economically viable state, with a stable Govt since there will be around 70-80 MLAs. Most importantly it will be a place Lord Parshuram created, a heaven on earth.

ps entire sindhudurg need not join goa only remaining 3 talukas of earstwhile Sawantwadi State are enough. We already have 4 talukas of Sawantwadi State in Goa as Portuguese New Conquest. They are Pernem, Bicholim, Sattari and Ponda plus Cortalim in Marmagoa.

- Jayesh Nayak, Porvorim | 29 th August 2012 15:31

 

If one looks at the economic point of view:

“Think if Goa has 5 districts, Abandoned natural resources, flora and fauna, hydroelectric and nuclear power projects, 2 new docks in and vengurla and an added coastline two new dams in Tilari and supa. 

If one looks at the social point of view.

Majority of the people of Karwar and swantwadi speak Konkani, and it is only natural that they should be part of a Konkani speaking State. Finally, there are religious links between the people of Karwar/South Goa, and Swantwadi/North Goa with family deities on both sides of the current border. Many Goan Catholics are married to their Maggie counterparts.

I want ask the editor his point of view?

But in doing so will Goa not loose its identity?

The Idea should not be to merge all Konkani speaking groups into Goa.

The Idea should be all Konkani speaking groups having their space and Identity.

The main groups can be divided into: 

Goans (Catolics, Bamon's & marathas)

Canars (Mangies, Karwaries)

  

North Konkan (Malvanies, Konkani people residing in Mumbai)

Karwar should not be made part of Goa instead Goa Karwar and even The former Kingdom of Swantwadi can be incorporated into the state of (Konkana)

If the Mangies want to join in they can come and settle as Ryan correctly pointed out.

In this way Goa can maintain its Identity as well as be part of a larger Konkani state.

Even a new town can be created for Manglorean people so that their culture and tradition is not scattered.

If all Konkani people can be concentrated in one zone it will be better as we can support each-other as well as maintain our own sub-identity.

Goa it self must do away with the 2 district system and have 3 and 2 more added. (Karwar and Swantwadi)

One of the laws that should be maintained is each district maintains its own Identity.

The three districts that can represent Goa in  the Konkana state are

District 1

Old Conquests: Salcete, Mormugao, Tiswadi and Bardez 

These places have been under the Portuguese for almost 450 years.

District 2

South Goa: Ponda, Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona were ruled by Sondekar so I have them as one district.

District 3

Northern Goa: Sattari, Bicholim and Pedne were part of Sawantwadi Kingdom

Kudal, Savantwadi, Vengurla and Dodamarg (first new district)

The second new district in the south of Goa may include places such as (Karwar, Bhatkal, Joida and a new town for Manglorean people to settle)

If am not wrong, Ramnagar was created to accommodate people of supa as their land was submerged in the construction of the dam

Karwar Bhatkal Joida

 

A special land can be allotted near Joida to accommodate people from Manglore and other konkani speaking area of the canaras. So that they don't get isolated from being part of a Larger Konkani speaking state.

However there should be proper planing and should be conducted peacefully.

- Kevin, Manglore | 28 th August 2012 14:48

 

Mr. Pinto I agree with you in totality. However I don't think both Karnataka & Maharastra will allot so much area for Konkani people.

The Konkani people are scattered all over the Konkan coast. We need to have a more concentrated area.

This will increase our numbers and power.

The place that you hail from is no dough a Konkani area but it not only faces a challenge from Kanada but also Tulu.

My plan is that Konkani speaking people should try and settle around goa.

This should not be forced but should come by will.

and is possible by planing and giving the people correct counselling



All konkani speaking people from the canaras should try and settle in Karwar, Canacona and Joida. Joida has lots of vacant land and can easily accommodate half a million people. They can sell their property and house and settle around Karwar if they want to live in a larger Konkanin speaking area.

Also If the non Konkani people of Goa and Karwar want to leave their land can be exchanged with the ones coming in and they can be moved down south to the vacant areas left by the manglorean people who will come and stay in the north.

The Konkani people of Goa and Karwar can help by making sure that land they sell is only to Manglorean people and other Konkani speaking people. They can also help by given jobs and stuff.

Most Mangies work abroad so it should be easy for them to sell their land and house and by a good flat around Goa or Karwar. Sadly I see lots of flats being constructed and sold to non Konkani speaking people.

One day we in Goa may become a minority in out own state..

My plan will boost and strength Konkani people as they will be consecrated together.

A similar new district can be carved out in the north.

The Kingdom of Swantwadi which was never part of British raj should be made a separate district as it was never part of sindhudurg all konkani speaking people from Maharastra who want to live in a Konkani state can be accommodated, there are many Konkani people in Bombay, and a decent number in pune, kolapur ratnagiri Malvan and belgaum. There are lots of open areas near donamarg area. Again make sure land is sold to Konkani people and if non konkani people want to leave their property can be distributed to the ones coming.

Having said this it should be don peacefully with no force and there should be proper planing so that all have jobs and stuff. The process shouldn't be hurried and may take some years to complete.

- Ryan Hartaum, Konkana | 26 th August 2012 21:11

 

I think it would be a good idea to have a United Konkan State - Greater Goa for the development of the Konkani language and Konkani culture

- Jason Pinto, Mangalore | 17 th April 2012 09:43

 

Majority people from Karwar and Vengurla wan to be called Goan's. Yes the merge is possible. In democracy majority rules.

Platini, history will should show you that Karwar belongs to Goa not B'lore. The peole from Karwar and Goa are fro the same race unlike B'lore. I am sure very soon Karwar will be part of Goa.

- Ryan Hart , Dodamarg | 09 th April 2012 11:42

 

No, Goa govt. can't include Karwar in Goa state. They r tryin to do it 'cz karwar is well developed & by lukin at beuty of nature & beach, bt if karwar would b a worst place thn they wer never thinkin merging Goa wid Karwar! Karwar is the beuty of Karnataka fasmost frm B'lore, the history shldn't b changd..... Goa cn b alwys friendly wid Karwar & the people r friendly wid each otha! I LOVE KARWAR AS ALWAYS <3 :)

- Platini, Mumbai | 24 th March 2012 10:04

 

The merge is a fantastic proposal. Firstly the whole of Sindhadurg and Uttar kannada should not join Goa.

Only some parts should join which morally its looks correct culturally, geographical, historical and traditionally, be it the Language the food.

History proves that the border to the south of Goa extended to Baithakol “Taranga Mett” Joida also has many Konkani people.

To the north of Goa (Pedne, Bicholim, and Sattari) was taken from The Kingdom Of Sawantwadi. The Kingdom Of Sawantwadi which included (Dodamargmust , Kudal and Vengurla) was never part of the British Raj. It was only merged with. Sindhadurg post 1947

The two new districts would be

Sawantwadi

(Sawantwadi, Dodamargmust , Kudal and Vengurla )

Karwar

(Karwar, Ankola, Joida and Haliyal)

Once the new districts are formed they can at least ask for Autonomy or the ability to act on its own. This includes not including Kanada if the don’t want to or basic education in Konkani. There can be mutual understanding between Goa and the two new districts. Logistics will get a boost and economy will also flourish. After this the merge should be easy.

There should be a law were non Konkani people cannot buy houses or land

Konkani people from all over the world can come and live here peacefully speaking their language.

- Ryan Hart, Dodamarg | 09 th March 2012 21:19

 

merging of karwar/joida to Goa is a good idea if it is considered that a lot of population has already settled in goa. which means only the geographical part is left with some population. if the kandigas dominate the some part of karwar then its a grave issue and something should be worked out or merging upto sadashivgad and joida region before kali bridge will be a good idea. practically staying in some parts of the villages like majali, angadi, thorlebag, mudgeri, hosali, asnoti, hankon, halga(classic example of people of hindu and christian community staying here with good harmony) ulga, kerwadi, kadra, joida etc I hav found that there is not much difference in rituals and there day to day life including food etc. regarding sindhudurg i hav no idea whether to identify it as a marathi or konkani place but it would hav been nice to include these places in goa.

last but not the least it is up to the politicians hand after the merger to make good use of the geography of karwar/joida and tap raw materials which are in abundance and make Goa a prosperous state

- indira, vasco | 07 th September 2011 13:47

 

EARLIER i was strong opposer of this idea. but if you see todays Goa ,many diff. states people with not only there languages but culture in GOA .This has caused fear in the people who worry for own culture. secondly in language point also we are reducing to minority rapidly. although just two lakh population ,but this thing will not effect must ,as they will not come in present geographical region of Goa . things may vice-versa. suggestion is to be considered positively. about sindhudurga not a whole be some close villages with close link to Goa may be merged if people desires .

- MAYUR, SANKHALI | 09 th July 2011 15:21

 

Linguistically, the parts of karwar district of Karnataka and some parts* of sindhadurg district of Maharashtra should be merged with Goa, to make the Konkani language more stronger and thus its the way for the prosperity of Konkani language.

- Seby Fernandes, Mysore | 02 nd June 2011 16:52

 

mr. natekar konka(sindhudurg,ratnagiri,raigad)ha maharashtracha avibhajya bhag ahe.mi swata malwancha ahe mi malwani bolto.ani malwani hi marathichi bolibhasha ahe,konkanichi nave.konachi may vyayliy konkan maharashtrapasun vegla karayla,ani prabhudesai saheb tumhi amachya sindhudurgabaddal chukichi mahiti pasravat ahat.

- arvind, mumbai | 19 th April 2011 13:18

 

I went through entire debate. I think the atmosphere right now in Sindhudurg has more favorism to merge it into Goa. About Malwani dialect, it is clearly stated that it's a Konkani dialect with significant Marathi influence. Hence I feel we Malwanis can easily adopt Konkani like Pednecars ( pednecari bhas in Goa is very close to Malwani except few exceptions ).

Also Sindhudrg since last few years been spoiled by the politicians of Western Maharashtra politics. Historically Sawantwadi rulers ruled from Kudal till Sakhali area which is partially in Goa and Sindhudurg. Culturally speaking, all fastivals of Hindus in Goa and Sindhudurg are similar with very minor exception than in Maharashtra. Thus concluding all - Sindhudurg is more culturally,linguistic and geogrophically closer to Goa than Maharashtra.

Hence I support merger for better Sindhudurg.

- Satej Prabhu, Kudal-Sindhudurg | 21 st December 2010 10:35

 

Reality is Karwaris struggle for a job in karwar and wont get it, but he gets a job in goa it may be contract basis atleast he can do up-down from karwar to verna on train. After some days he gets used to and he settles here trys for some other jobs or small business this way the person from karwar is in goa. Karnataka Govt also tries to dug out the original karwaris and give jobs or transfer nadgis from other part to karwar either it may be bank jobs. There is only one solution take the Karwar & suppa part from Karnataka & Merge in goa thats enough. Including Sindhadurg can make an impact on Konkani and i personally think goan can accept karwaris but its difficult to adjust with sindhadurg. we want konkani first and as the article itself states "After liberation, educated people from Karwar got the leverage to take up government jobs in Goa, especially in the educational sector. Since the administrative powers remained in the hands of Karwaris for almost three decades since then, over half of Karwar is already settled in Goa today. The rest of the Karwar is now demanding its geographical merger into Goa. We cant leave the land for karnataka and take population in Goa it a benificial dream of Ravindra bab Kelkar

- Sachin Rane, Margao | 04 th November 2010 11:23

 

Dear Sandesh,

Good proposition. Rationalisation of the state boundries is the need of the hour. The states which are too small requires to be made big and states which are too big needs to trimmed down. first of all UP should be divided into 5 different states. On other hand goa needs larger area. Just like the election commission has uniform smallest unit of polling booth of approx 1000 voters all over india all indian states need a uniform number of members of legislative assemblies of 100 MLA's. So that all the states are big enough to be stable and small enough to be governed. Language should not be the sole criteria but also uniformity of culture, geography of area, population, resources, economy etc also should be considered.

All the thinking people of goa should apply their mind on this issue.

Regards,

Shriniwas Khalap

- Shriniwas Khalap, New Delhi | 18 th October 2010 15:46

 

Goa, already hosts chunks of polulation from these areas. Some of them came, after liberation, as deputations and did not leave. So also many of our Goans have settled in Maharashtra and today are Mumbaikars, Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka.

These people have brought in many new ideas and talent as contribution to this State.

But the larger part of the problem is how are their parent States going to take issue. It is up to those who wish to join us. All we can do is look on passively at developments and render support after our own opinions and debates.

- Ludovico, Old-Goa | 16 th October 2010 14:47

 

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