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Land of milk,maize and dinosaurs

Mahisagar’s headquarters,Lunawada,was in news for the 2002 riots

Written by Kumar Anand | Vadodara | Published: September 3, 2013 2:59:57 am

The new district of Mahisagar,carved out of Kheda and Panchmahals,lies on Gujarat’s northeastern tip bordering Rajasthan. Named after the Mahi river,referred to as Mahisagar in Gujarati,the district is among the state’s greenest areas with agriculture being the main occupation here. Paddy and maize are the main crops in the new district. Villagers also depend on cattle rearing,and dairy farms boast of a large quantity of milk production.

“Going by the strengths of the new district,we plan to promote agro-products through proper marketing so that farmers are benefitted. We are looking at ways to bring about green and white revolutions to create a new wave of development here,” said District Collector Praful Harshe.

The district covers two talukas of Kheda,Balasinor and Birpur (which were among Kheda’s least developed talukas),and four from Panchmahals — Santrampur,Kadana,Lunawada,Khanpur — with Lunawada being the district headquarters. Lunawada was in news for a communal riot that took place in 2002.

The Mahi river originates from Aravalli range and enters Gujarat at Kadana. The river then passes through all the six talukas of the district before merging into the Arabian sea at Gulf of Khambhat.

The district has a high literacy rate,with a large pool of educated persons serving in various capacities at Godhra and other centres in Panchmahals.

With the new district coming into existence,this educated manpower is likely to serve as a major resource. The district also has the potential to develop into a tourist spot,Harshe said.

In terms of industry,the district is among the most impoverished ones,with just one industrial cluster in Balasinor. Lack of proper rail network remains a major hindrance in the growth of industry here,even though the region is well connected with Vadodara through roadways.

“Having no major industry serves both as its strength and weakness. Lack of industry keeps it pollution-free. I can safely say that this could be one of the districts with least amount of pollution. The area has a pool of educated manpower,which is an advantage,” Harshe further added.

Developing it as a pilgrimage centre is among the major plans,given the religious importance of the Mahi river. “We have religious places such as Mahadev temple and Kaleshwari temple which are frequented by a large number of devotees. Also,Mangadh hill in Santrampur can draw tourists and Kadana dam can be developed for eco-tourism purpose,” said Harshe. Popularly known as India’s Jurassic Park,Balasinor Fossil Park has fossilised bones,eggs of dinosaurs.

Last July,Chief Minister Narendra Modi visited Mangadh to celebrate the centenary of tribal reformist Govind Guru,who had led a struggle against the British rule that resulted in the massacre of 1,500 Bhils in 1913.

Congress MLA from Lunawada Hirabhai Patel is,however,sceptical about the region’s development. “Going by the condition of nearby Panchmahals district where healthcare,one of the basic requirements,remains in a pathetic condition,I don’t think there will be any major development here now that it is a separate district,” he said.

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