February 19, 2021 2:28:56 am
Opposition BJP and Congress on Thursday staged a walkout on the first day of the Budget session of Odisha Assembly over the state’s ongoing boundary dispute with Andhra Pradesh.
Opposition legislators interrupted the Governor’s address to the Assembly and created ruckus, prompting adjournment of the session until Friday. The Opposition alleged that the state government has been unable to resolve the long-standing boundary dispute and facilitated Andhra Pradesh to occupy parts of the state due inaction.
“The Odisha government has been a mute spectator despite all the red flags,” Leader of Congress legislature party Narasingh Mishra said. “They could not stop the elections in the villages, conducted by Andhra Pradesh. This is a big issue which should have been addressed by the Governor, which he did not.”
Ahead of the session, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Nayak of the BJP had written to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and proposed constitution of an independent agency to resolve the issues. “I visited the villages and saw that people there are inclined towards the neighbouring state because our government has failed to provide them the facilities,” he said. “I have urged the state government to ensure and improve education, healthcare, food and drinking water facilities for residents in bordering areas.”
The region, he said, has schools and offices set up by the Odisha government but no officials are present. “But there are officials from Andhra Pradesh government and the district administration to attend to the natives,” Naik said. “An independent agency by the name of Kotia Cluster Development Authority should be set up to resolve the issue.”
Amid the allegations, BJD MLA from Khandapada, S R Patnaik, had on Tuesday said that the Koraput administration had “failed to win confidence of people” in Kotia cluster of villages.
“The issue could have been resolved with better efforts at the grassroots level. There is no point defending and ignoring the callous behaviour of the administration which led to the villagers participating in panchayat elections of Andhra Pradesh,” Patnaik had said.
On February 13 and 17, Andhra Pradesh had held elections in Kotia region despite the Koraput district collector writing to his counterpart in Vizianagaram against holding the elections since the matter is sub judice. The Odisha government had moved the Supreme Court challenging AP State Election Commission’s move to notify rural polls in the village cluster.
Earlier this month, the AP government had issued a poll notification for village panchayats in Talaganjeipadar, Phatuseneri and Phagunaseneri villages under Salur block. The jurisdictional dispute between the two states dates back to five decades. The dispute had first reached the Supreme Court in 1968. In 2006, the apex court held that interstate boundaries did not fall under its jurisdiction and only Parliament could resolve it.
Residents of the panchayat receive benefits from both states and also hold identity cards from both states.
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