Despite the opposition by Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum district of Karnataka, which shares its border with Maharashtra, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday gave his approval to change its name to Belagavi — as pronounced in Kannada.
The issue had been hanging fire for the past eight years after the Karnataka government moved a proposal to change Belgaum’s name as well as 11 other cities and towns in 2006.
Although the JD(S)-BJP government in Karnataka had announced its intention to change the names of these cities and towns, the previous UPA government at the Centre did not take any decision.
Rajnath gave his approval to the proposal of the Karnataka government made on October 27, 2006 to change the names of the 12 towns and cities in consonance with their pronunciation in Kannada language. Karnataka and Maharashtra, where the Assembly elections had just concluded, are locked in a boundary row over Belgaum.
The state government had taken the decision to rechristen these cities on the occasion of the golden jubilee of formation of the state of Karnataka on November 1, 2006.
The other cities and towns which will be known by new names are Mangalore (Mangaluru), Bellary (Ballari), Bijapur (Vijapura), Chikmagalur (Chikkamagaluru), Gulbarga (Kalaburagi), Mysore (Mysure), Hospet (Hosapete), Shimoga (Shivamogga), Hubli (Hubballi) and Tumkur (Tumakuru).