Political Debate Rages Over Odisha-Andhra Border Kotia Row

Bhubaneswar: With the Budget Session of Odisha Legislative Assembly on and the nagging border dispute between Odisha State and Andhra Pradesh (AP) now sub judice in the Supreme Court, political slugfest heated up today.

Among other major issues, the main opposition parties BJP and Congress have started cornering the ruling BJD today.

Opposition Chief Whip and BJP MLA Mohan Charan Majhi flayed, “Now the State Government has sought four weeks time from the Supreme Court to file rejoinder. After this timeline, again four weeks will be sought. The State Government has completely failed in protecting the border areas.”

“A House Committee should immediately visit there (Kotia area in Koraput district). Concrete steps must also be taken soon to resolve the border dispute by holding discussions with both the Centre and the Andhra Chief Minister. It’s high time or else there is least chance of regaining those cut off areas from Andhra,” the BJP lawmaker opined.

Senior Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja reacted, “It’s a matter of both deep regret and surprise that Kotia has been a sensitive issue as Andhra has already conducted general elections in 2014 and 2016. Recently, panchayat election has also been conducted there. In this matter our State Government has moved the Supreme Court and has also sought time of four weeks to file rejoinder. Doesn’t it evince the negligence of the State’s bureaucracy?”

He burst, “The State Government is least bothered about it. The State Government here is intending to decimate the original map of Odisha that had been on April 1, 1936 when a separate Utkal Pradesh (State of Odisha) was formed. No protection is being given to those existing areas of our mother land.”

The Congress legislator stated, “In a bid to woo the people, the Andhra Government is giving Rs 1500 pension. If ration card is shown, their banks are lending loan upto Rs 50,000. Lots of facilities like road communication, schools, food and everything are being provided to the villagers there (Kotia area).”

He argued, “Most important to note is that Andhra Pradesh has already submitted their claim. Today I had sought that information through my unstarred question, but it has not been answered. Only it has been stated that the cluster of 21 villages are there in Kotia.”

He demanded, “The State Government must immediately depute its officers to submit all the relevant documents with the Supreme Court or else we won’t allow the Assembly to run.”

On the contrary, Odisha Revenue Minister Sudam Marndi defended, “Now the case is sub judice in the Supreme Court. It wouldn’t be wise to comment on it. I believe Supreme Court will take a just decision on it. I hope the verdict will be in our favour.”

Sudam Marndi, Minister, Revenue

Mohan Charan Majhi, BJP Chief Whip

Santosh Singh Saluja, Senior Congress MLA