Updated: February 6, 2021 5:29:30 am
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday inaugurated a slew of welfare projects in the disputed panchayat area of Kotia in Koraput district’s Pottangi block.
The dispute over the ownership of 21 out of 28 villages in Kotia panchayat between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh dates back to five decades.
The dispute had reached the Supreme Court in 1968. In 2006, however, the apex court held that interstate boundaries did not fall under its jurisdiction and only Parliament could resolve it. Notably, the residents of the panchayat receive benefits from both the states and also hold identity cards from both states.
Last year, the Odisha government had announced a development package of Rs 150 crore for the 21 disputed villages falling under the panchayat.
On Friday, Patnaik inaugurated nine different projects, including primary health centre, hostels for boys and girls, and a school, via video-conferencing.
Addressing the people of Kotia, Patnaik said, “The state government is dedicatedly working towards the all-round development of the area and steps are taken to transform Kotia into a model panchayat…I will also soon visit Kotia and meet you all.”
The move comes a day after the Andhra Pradesh government announced panchayat elections in three villages of Kotia — the first time that Andhra Pradesh is conducting panchayat elections in these villages — further fuelling the jurisdiction dispute between the two states.
In a notification issued for the polls, Andhra Pradesh included Talaganjeipadar, Phatuseneri and Phagunaseneri villages under its Salur block.
After the notification, the Odisha government transferred Koraput Collector Madhusudan Mishra, replacing him with Mohammad Abdaal Akhtar, who had earlier been posted as the director of DRDA in Cuttack. Mishra has been posted as the additional secretary in Forest and Environment department.
“Senior officials from the district are taking stock of the situation. A notification has been issued by the neighbouring state and we are looking into the matter,” a senior official said.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and Jeypore MLA Tara Bahinipati, whose seat falls in Koraput, said it is high time that the situation is reviewed.
“Andhra Pradesh has fixed its eyes on Kotia only for its gold mines. Locals of the region are also inclined towards the state now. Our state government has done no substantial work in the area and its time that the Chief Minister visits the place and reviews the situation,” he said.
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