Bhubaneswar: Amidst ongoing border conflict between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh over ownership of disputed villages in Kotia, the neighbouring State reignited the controversy by adding the contentious panchayat to its newly demarcated map.
Andhra Pradesh Government has created 13 new districts by dividing 13 existing districts and expanding its periphery with inclusion of Kotia into its State. With this, a total of 26 districts were formed in Andhra.
According to reports, 28 border villages in Kotia cluster now come under a new district known as ‘Manyam’.
The new district Manyam consists of Parvathipuram revenue circle of Vizianagaram district and Palakonda revenue circle of Srikakulam district. With formation of the new district, Parvathipuram will be its headquarters. The Andhra Government announced it as the backward district.
While the distance between Vizianagaram and Kotia is 120 km, source said that with formation of the new district, the distance will be reduced to more than half after Parvathipuram was declared as new district headquarters of Manyam.
The formation of 13 new districts by adding Kotia to Andhra’s revised map drew sharp reactions from various quarters in Odisha.
“Odisha has a huge geographical area. As Andhra was separated into two States, it wants to occupy a few area of neighbouring Odisha,” said senior political leader and former Odisha MP Jayaram Pangi.
BJP MLA Jayanarayan Mishra launched a scathing attack on Odisha CM over the issue.
“The border villages do not want to be part of Odisha. As the neighbouring State is providing more facailities than Odisha, the villagers are willing to be part of Andhra. It’s complete failure of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for which border villages are switching off to Andhra now,” said Mishra, raising doubt on Patnaik and his Andhra counterpart Jagan Reddy.
On the other hand, Biju Janata Dal affirmed that Kotia will be in Odisha always.
“The fight with Andhra over Kotia is underway in the Supereme Court. Andhra Pradesh had moved the court against Odisha seeking stay on conducting Panchayat elections in Kotia, but the apex court rejected its petition. The neighbouring State is targeting to merge Kotia for its rich mineral and mining resources. However, Kotia belongs to Odisha and we will never let the region go to Andhra. Kotia was in Odisha, is and will remain in the State in future,” said Rajya Sabha member Munna Khan.
The dispute over jurisdiction of 21 villages of 28 in Kotia panchayat under Pottangi Block in Koraput district had flared up after Andhra Pradesh held panchayat elections earlier in 2021.