Dharmendra urges Odisha CM for all-party meeting to resolve inter-state border disputes

Bhubaneswar: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has written to Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik urging the latter to convene an all-party meeting to resolve the inter-state border disputes.

Pradhan also requested the CM to form a House Committee in the Odisha Legislative Assembly comprising members from different parties for undertaking a detailed study of these issues and presenting their learned findings along with their recommendations.

In the letter, the Union Minister mentioned about two specific incidents of such disputes.

“As you would be aware, tensions have flared up once again along the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border at Pottangi Block in Koraput District. It is understood that the unilateral demarcation claiming certain portions of the Sunabeda Mouza under Sambai Panchayat and digging of a pond in the village of Talaganjei padar by officials of the Andhra Pradesh administration was found unacceptable to Odisha. The matter has now escalated to blockage of Pottangi-Araku road by villagers on the Andhra Pradesh side. This comes a few months after a dispute along the Odisha-West Bengal border in Jaleswar Block of Balasore District due to unilateral sand mining by West Bengal on the Subarnarekha river bed,” Pradhan said in the letter.

“Fourteen out of Odisha’s thirty districts share borders with Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Odisha has a long history of border and water disputes with all these neighboring States owing to historical, cartographic and geological reasons. Dispute over a clear delineation of land overshadows the on-ground issues faced by the people inhabiting it. Taking a holistic view of the situation, it is important to shed light on the developmental issues and infrastructural challenges affecting the people living on both sides of the border such as providing connectivity and infrastructure in remote areas, ensuring implementation of key developmental programmes and jointly tackling the threat from Left Wing Extremism,” he wrote.

It would seem prudent to arrive at an effective and comprehensive resolution of Odisha’s ongoing and long standing border disputes with all its neighboring States, i.e. Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, through bilateral discussions between States. In the spirit of cooperative federalism and brotherhood between States, I believe Odisha should take the lead in initiating these discussions, Pradhan said.

However, it must be ensured that socio-economic interest of the people of Odisha is not compromised in any way and if necessary, the State should also consider legal remedies for resolution of these disputes, he added.

“I request you to convene an all-party meeting, with due participation and inputs from Odisha’s intelligentsia and civil society for discussing these border disputes with neighboring States. Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue, I would also urge you to seek the support of the Central Government in mediating a resolution between Odisha and her neighbouring states for boundary disputes,” he concluded.

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