Latest UpdatesIndiaRajasthanMaru Pradesh: A demand for a separate state in the Thar Desert

Maru Pradesh: A demand for a separate state in the Thar Desert

Jaipur: A movement for the creation of a new state called Maru Pradesh, comprising parts of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, has been gaining momentum in recent years. The proponents of the demand claim that the desert region has been neglected and discriminated by the successive governments of Rajasthan and that a separate state would ensure its development and security.
Maru Pradesh or Marusthali is a geographical region within the Marusthal, or Thar Desert, in the Indian state of Rajasthan . It is also a proposed state in India with its proposed capital being Bikaner, the fourth largest city of Rajasthan. It would be carved out from the state of Rajasthan.
The proposed state would consist of the districts of Barmer, Churu, Hanumangarh, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Pali, Sikar, Sirohi and Sri Ganganagar . These districts cover an area of 213,887 square kilometres and have a population of 28.1 million as per the 2011 census.
The demand for Maru Pradesh has a long history dating back to the formation of Rajasthan in 1956. When Rajasthan was being formed by merging several princely states and provinces, Jodhpur and Bikaner states strongly opposed the merger and favoured creating a desert state. The then ruler of Jodhpur, Hanwant Singh, even wore a black turban in protest against the merger in the first Lok Sabha.
However, the demand was ignored by the central government citing security reasons as the desert region shares an international border with Pakistan. Since then, several leaders and organisations have raised their voice for Maru Pradesh from time to time. Some of them include former MP Swami Keshavanand, former Maharaja Gajsingh of Jodhpur, former foreign minister Jaswant Singh and former chief minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
The supporters of Maru Pradesh argue that the desert region has a distinct culture, language and identity that is different from the rest of Rajasthan. They also claim that the region has been lagging behind in terms of development indicators such as education, health, infrastructure and employment. They allege that the desert region does not get its fair share of resources and representation from the state government.
They also point out that the region faces several challenges such as water scarcity, droughts, desertification and migration. They believe that a separate state would be able to address these issues more effectively and efficiently. They also hope that a separate state would boost tourism, trade and industry in the region.
The demand for Maru Pradesh has also received support from some political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). However, the ruling Congress party in Rajasthan has opposed the demand and said that it would not allow any division of the state.
The central government has not taken any official stance on the issue so far. However, some experts have suggested that the government should consider forming a second states reorganisation commission to look into the demands for new states across the country. They have also urged that any decision on new states should be based on objective criteria such as population, area, economic viability and administrative feasibility.

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