Odisha, West Bengal share a village and its votes
By Hemant Kumar Rout - BALASORE
Published: 28th Jul 2013 09:05:03 AM
Even as Odisha Government opposed the recent move of West Bengal to acquire land in Udaypur area of Balasore district, hundreds of people in Sankhamedi village last Sunday voted during the West Bengal panchayat election. People of this border village have voter I-cards of both states. They vote during elections in both the states. The villagers enjoy ration supplied from both the states, they speak Odia and Bengali, and use SIM cards of both the state telecom circles.
On record, the people come under two villages—Sankhamedi (ward No. 18 of Analia Panchayat) of Bhogarai block in Odisha and Bagbrajakishore (ward No. 14) of Ramnagar block in West Bengal. While Sankhamedi has about 320 voters, Bagbrajakishore has over 700 voters, including the rest from nearby West Bengal hamlets. Despite ‘dual-voting’ for the last 30 years, as revealed by the villagers themselves, the Election Commission has apparently not taken note of it.
Basanta Jena, a villager, said his family had been receiving rations provided by both the governments. The village also has been receiving financial benefits from both Odisha and West Bengal governments. Odisha has built a primary school for Odia-speaking students with two teachers. A concrete road leads to this school. The West Bengal government has also built a school where Bengali-speaking children have been enrolled. The villagers, however, do not have residential certificates.
Sankhamedi village is in the block record of Bhogarai, but there is no mention of it in the tehsil record. The residents said no official has come to take land revenue since 1983. Ward member Gouri Jena said the villagers had filed several petitions urging the Odisha Government to include them in the state territory and issue residential certificates, but no step had been initiated. Former Zilla Parishad member Ashish Mohanty said even as they belonged to Scheduled Caste, the villagers had not been issued houses under IAY just because they could not show their land records. The villagers pay roaming charge on their Odisha circle SIM card.
-The Sunday Standard