ACTIVISTS OF the newly launched political party, Vidarbha Rajya Aghadi (ViRA) ,Wednesday burnt copies of the Nagpur Pact, a document signed in 1953 by Congress leader Yashwantrao Chavan and some prominent personalities from Vidarbha region, at Samvidhan Square in Nagpur.
Activists said the protest was to underscore that the promises made in the Pact for the development of the region in return for its amalgamation with the proposed new state of Maharashtra were not fulfilled, and also that the document itself was legally invalid.
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Talking to The Indian Express, ViRA working president Ravi Sanyal and secretary Neeraj Khandewale said the people who signed the document on September 28, 1953 had no locus standi to be the signatories on behalf of the people of Vidarbha. “The document was incorporated in the Constitution through an amendment to Article 371. However, around two years ago, the High Court had said in its judgement in the Indiabulls case that the Pact was only in the sense of directives and not binding on the state,” said Sanyal.
Khandewale added, “Over the years, several commissions, such as the Fazal Ali Commission, the Dandekar Samiti, the Indicator and Backlog Committee and more recently the Kelkar Committee have underscored the injustice meted out to Vidarbha. The provision in the Nagpur Pact for setting up development boards for the region was implemented 35 years after the formation of Maharashtra. All these things point to the deliberate neglect of Vidarbha by successive governments in Mumbai.”
Article 371 empowers the Governor to issue directives to the state for equitable distribution of funds. In 2014, the Bombay High Court concurred with the government’s submission that these directives would not be binding on the state. The court was hearing a case about the release of water to the Indiabulls power plant at Amravati from the Uppar Wardha irrigation project, which had been challenged by an Amravati-based organisation called Society for Backlog Removal and Development.
The ruling paved the way for water to be released to the plant.