Union Minister and senior BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan has sought personal intervention of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for harmonious resolution to border issues with Andhra Pradesh.
Writing a letter to the Chief Minister, Pradhan said border dispute issues emerged in the villages in South Odisha, namely Kotia gram group of villages in Pottangi block in Koraput district and Manikapatna in Gangabada GP of Rayagada block in Gajapati district.
“As you would be aware, administrative outreach by the Andhra Pradesh government in these villages has been reported in the past few days. This illegitimate and unfortunate outreach by Andhra Pradesh government is now not only confined to Kotia but is also gradually spreading to other villages in South Odisha,” he said.
Reportedly, 21 such villages have been included in the newly carved Parvatipuram Manyam district of AP, with changed nomenclature, with its headquarters just 40 km away from various villages of Kotia.
The BJP leader said that Andhra Pradesh has been proactively implementing different schemes and developmental activities in these villages luring these residents to be a part of Andhra Pradesh.
The Odisha government needs to be proactive on the ground, thereby bringing the government and administration closer to the residents of these border villages, he suggested.
“Being far away from the district headquarter, people may find the Andhra Pradesh administration more accessible. The neighbouring state may use the same to alienate these citizens from Odisha, and thereby sever their age-old socio-cultural umbilical cord with their motherland,” the Union Minister said.
He further said that the neighbouring state is strategically trying to sway these border villagers by offering ration cards, healthcare, education and other facilities.
To counter this, Pradhan said, Odisha should take the local population and organisation into confidence and address multiple developmental issues by ensuring people staying in bordering villages are not lured by Andhra Pradesh government facilities and, expediting the swift implementation of developmental activities of the Odisha government.
Such administrative face-offs and disputes will not only create a disharmonious environment for the people of these areas but also hinder the development of these villages, he said.
Besides, it will also derail the ongoing development process which goes against the socio-political objectives of both States, and sow seeds for anti-establishment sentiments to take root in this region.
Irrespective of party lines, all political parties agree unanimously on the development and protection of Odia interests in these border villages. Therefore, he urged the Chief Minister to convene an all-party meeting over these issues and review the progress made by the inter-state committee and briefing on developmental activities taken up in border villages.