Mahendragarh is one of the most backward districts of the country and suffers from acute water shortage for decades. This has harmed its agriculture and made lives miserable for the majority of the people of the predominantly rural agro-based economy as they remain a victim of neglect by successive governments in the state.
Every elections, water scarcity, canals and irrigation surface as the key issues in the district. Time and again politicians have promised to make water from Satluj Yamuna canal available to the farmers in the district. Yet there have always remained empty promises and the result of such crass neglect is the absence of any significant industry and therefore, large scale unemployment in the district.
The district is among the two districts in the state that get the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF) assistance. It has a total area of 1,859 square kilometres, of which only 22.7 square kilometre area is in the urban stretch. The total cultivable area in the district is 1,58,695 hectare.
One Malik Mahdud Khan, who was a servant of Babur, is credited with the establishment of the town where the great Maratha warrior Tatya Tope too built a fort in the 17th Century. However, in 1861, King Narendra Singh of Patiala named the fort Mahendra Garh (Fort Mahendra) in honour of his son Mahendra Singh and this is how the place came to be known as Mahendragarh -- situated at the bank of Dohan -- a seasonal river now at the verge of extinction.
Narnaul city is the administrative headquarters of the district even though the district is named after Mahendragarh town, which was previously known as Kanaud after the Kanaudia Brahmins who had settled down at this place. The district was created in 1948 with parts of erstwhile princely states of Jind, Patiala, Nabha and Charkhi Dadri merging into it. It was part of the then Patiala and East Punjab States Union. However, once the Union merged with Punjab on 1st November 1956, Mahendragarh district too became a part of Punjab. Finally when Haryana was carved out of Punjab in 1966, the district became a part of the new state.
The district borders Rajasthan from three sides and Bhiwani and Rohtak districts in the north. It comprises four tehsils -- Ateli, Kanina, Narnaul,and Mahendragar; one sub-tehsil, Nangal Chowdhary; eight blocks; 367 villages; and 344 panchayats.
Three of the eight blocks in the district have been created in the last couple of years only --Sehma and Nizampur in 2012; and Satnali block that was notified on 9th may 2014. The other blocks are Narnaul, Ateli, Nangal Chaudhary, Mahendragarhand Kanina.
Yet even earlier too, the map of the district had changed more than once when first Rewari tehsil of Gurgaon district was added to Mahendragarh in 1972, and thereafter in 1989 when Rewari was made a new district.
Yet, such changes are highly ineffectual because of the state government's inefficiency. The four tehsils of the district all primarily agricultural centres, are the sorry picture of utter neglect by the successive state governments of Haryana.
Of the four tehsils in the district, Narnaul is situated right in the middle of the district. The tehsil has 66 villages under the Narnaul block. Besides some villages of Sehma and Nizampur blocks also fall in the Narnaul tehsil. The entire region is dependent on agriculture and the shortage of canal water and the depletion of ground water has not only affected irrigation but also resulted in a severe drinking water shortage in the tehsil.
Mahendragarh town also falls under the Mahendragarh tehsil which too, like Narnaul, has 66 villages. Besides, a few villages of Satnali and Kanina blocks also fall under the Mahendragarh tehsil. The entire region depends on agriculture.
Ateli tehsil has 46 villages of Ateli block besides some villages of Sehma and Kanina blocks. The shortage of water in the region has always been an election issue here. There is no industry in the region and the population here is dependent on agriculture.
Nangal Chaudhary tehsil is comprised of 50 villages of Nangal Chaudhary block and about 30 villages of Nizampur. This entire region bordering Rajasthan has been declared a dark zone where there is no ground water available even at 2500 feet. There is a ban imposed in the region on new tube wells or digging of new well.
As per 2011 census, Mahendragarh's population was 9,21,680, with the male population at 4,86,553, and female population at 4,35,127. The district has a high literacy rate of 80.8 percent. The female literacy rate is 71 per cent while the male literacy rate is at 89.4 per cent.
What is interesting is that the district falls under Bhiwani-Mahendragarh Lok Sabha constituency and has four Vidhan Sabha seats Mahendragarth, Ateli, Nangal Chaudhary and Narnaul. Yet, the elected representatives from the district have hardly done anything for the development of the place.