JEYPORE/VIZIANAGARAM: A day after holding Janmabhoomi meeting in Koraput’s Kotia panchayat which took Odisha Government by surprise, the Vizianagaram district administration on Wednesday said it saw no wrong in doling out freebies to the inhabitants in the disputed area.
“What’s wrong here? The border dispute related to Kotia tribal pockets is still pending with the Supreme Court and both the Governments are implementing welfare schemes for the benefit of the tribals,” Vizianagaram Collector Vivek Yadav told TNIE on Wednesday.
When he and his team visited the villages on Tuesday, Yadav said the residents urged them to lay roads. The matter would be brought to the notice of AP Government, he said.
The Odisha Government’s response, however, was knee-jerk. “Koraput Collector has been asked for a report. We are examining the situation,” Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Maheswar Mohanty said. He also added that the House Committee on Boundary Issues is seized of the matter.
In the recent past, the Odisha Government started laying cement roads in the tribal pockets. Though Odisha claims complete control over 21 villages of Kotia panchayat in the district, it had no inkling of the Janmabhoomi-Maa Vooru programmes of the neighbouring State. In the past, the AP Government used to distribute such freebies during the time of elections But for the first time, a District Collector visited Kotia without informing the Koraput administration.
The AP team not only distributed `1,000 as pension to 65 persons along with blankets, they also provided medicine and mosquito nets with promise for more in the future.
Though Koraput Collector Anupam Saha sent a team, led by Sub-Collector Pitabas Raut to the village on Tuesday evening, the AP officials were gone. However, another source said that Raut and a few other officials stopped the vehicles of Andhra officials when they were returning after the Janamabhoomi programme at Diguva Ganjayiguda village and heated arguments were exchanged.
Meanwhile, Sub-Collector Raut interacted with public representatives of Kotia panchayat and visited Talganjai Padar where the AP team had conducted the meeting.
The Andhra Pradesh team apparently spent the entire day in the area to review the development works. They assured the villagers that more funds will be pumped in for development schemes in the coming days if they stand by their side.
The locals reportedly told Raut that AP officials had given them money to switch over to their side. However, the villagers vowed before the team that they will continue to remain with Odisha. Later, the Sub-Collector submitted a report to the Collector.
The tribal villages are located in the areas bordering Koraput district of Odisha and Salur mandal in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh. Both the State governments claim that the areas fall within their respective territories. The dispute has been there since 1960 and is still pending with the Supreme Court.