A day after neighbouring Andhra Pradesh conducted rural polls in some villages under Odisha territory, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday (February 14) expressed concern over the matter and cautioned the state government that the situation may aggravate if required pre-emptive measures were not taken to resolve the inter-state dispute.
Pradhan in a statement said that though the Odisha government has taken legal recourse to resolve the border discord, it should be taken to a conclusive end.
“We may encounter worse situations if timely measures are not taken at proper time,” he said, adding that AP holding panchayat polls in the border villages by including people of Koraput, Ganjam and Gajapati, has certainly created bitterness between the two states.
Ignoring opposition from Odisha government, Andhra Pradesh on Saturday (February 13) conducted gram panchayat polls in Kotia area of Koraput district, the region on which both the states have been staking their claim.
Even though the district magistrate of Koraput Abdaal Akhtar had written a letter to his Vizianagaram counterpart, requesting not to hold elections in the disputed Kotia region as the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court, the Andhra government set up polling booth at Potu Senari and voting was held under a thick security cover.
The Odisha government had approached the Supreme Court against Andhra Pradesh for holding panchayat polls in Kotia and the Apex Court had on Friday served notice to the Andhra government and posted the case for February 19.
Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, said the state government should give utmost priority to the border villages by implementing welfare schemes.
“It is our responsibility to protect the boundary of our state and ensure that our brothers and sisters living in the border villages avail all the benefits of the welfare schemes of the state government,” Pradhan said.
He also urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, to seriously take up the matter and do the needful at the earliest before it is too late.
The Union Petroleum minister pointed out that the border disputes with Andhra Pradesh or any other state, many times generate hostilities which should not happen at all.
He said all political parties, social organisations and individuals should put their best efforts to keep Odisha’s boundary intact.
“A collective effort is required for maintaining the states territory and resolves the border disputes with other states,” Pradhan said.
The issue has sparked a political row in the eastern state with opposition BJP and Congress accusing the BJD government of failing to protect the states territory.
Congress had on Saturday criticised the state’s BJD government, saying the chief minister’s incompetence led to Andhra Pradesh holding polls in the Odisha territory.
The state BJP president Samir Mohanty also came down heavily on the state BJD government, accusing it of not being able to protect the state’s territory.
He said BJP will soon set up a border security cell to look after the grievances of the people living in the bordering areas.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)