Slowly and steadily, the West Bengal Government is ensuring that the border villages of Odisha are made part of WB. It has started collecting land revenue and constructing roads. Now going one step ahead, the West Bengal authorities have electrified parts of a few villages that fall under Balasore district.
The West Bengal dominance over the State came to the fore recently when the officials of the former removed a gate of the Odisha Forest department on Sahabajipur-Udaypur road and erected their police checkpost in its place. Earlier, it had encroached nearly five acres of Odisha land to build new Digha bus stand.
An investigation revealed the West Bengal Government was allegedly eyeing at least 11 villages under Bhogarai and Jaleswar tehsils along with Udaypur sea beach of Balasore district. While they have already started collecting land cess from Sankhamedi village, residents of which recently cast their votes for WB panchayat election, nearby villagers are being lured to become a part of the Bengali-speaking State.
As Digha beach is losing its sheen due to overcrowding, WB is in fact contemplating to get hold of the virgin Udaypur beach which would fetch them huge revenue from tourism sector. If no step is taken by the Odisha government, the beach would soon become part of WB.
Odisha has about 38 villages of Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts that share border with West Bengal. People fear as the State Government does not seem to be serious, Bengal authorities might take over the area in near future.
Guru Prasad Mohanty, State president of Utkal Sammilani, said over 1,000 ha of land on the border areas of both the States was disputed for the last eight decades. ‘’When we met the residents of Udaypur, they claimed WB could intrude as Odisha Government didn’t take any protective measures despite their repeated demands,’’ he said.
The villages such as Sahabajipur, Bajitpur, Dakhinasarisa, Udaypur and Mundabania of Balasore are mentioned as Podhima, Mundala and Duttapur villages in WB revenue records. Even the local markets here have Bengali influence, which is used as first language. Though Odias here have voter I-cards, they are not issued revenue certificates as they don’t have land pattas.
Since 1981, at least 10 settlements and RDC level meetings besides a series of Assembly committee inquiries have been conducted to resolve the issue.
Government chief whip Prabhat Tripathy said the Government had sought a status report from Balasore administration on the latest developments. ‘’The Assembly Committee will give its recommendation accordingly after receiving the report,’’ he added.
Utkal Sammilani has demanded setting up of a special cell to address the disputes and initiate a fresh joint settlement survey to demarcate the border villages of both the States.