Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s welfare programmes are not only a hit in his state but are also tempting people residing in the disputed villages on the Andhra Odisha border to come under the jurisdiction of the Telugu state. This is despite the Supreme Court ordering status quo in 2006 on the disputed villages including Kotiya, when both AP and Odisha claimed them as their territory.
When the villagers in Kotiya panchayat were asked why they were inclined towards Andhra Pradesh, they reasoned that their area was neglected with no road communication and other basic amenities and faced an identity crisis due to the dispute in the court. “Hence, whoever takes care of us, we will go to that side,” the villagers said.
Citing an example, the villagers said: “Jagananna Amma Vodi scheme provides Rs 15,000 annually to mothers for sending their kids to school; free school bags, uniform, books and shoes for students and land patta and other schemes, are a boon for the people. We want our children to get these benefits and they can do so if they take residency documents from AP.” The villagers continued: “The Odisha government is no doubt launching various developmental projects and built roads but that would not suffice.”
Some of the residents of the disputed villages are said to have been keeping the voter identity of both the states and avail dual benefits too. Recently, in a bid to attract the villagers into its jurisdiction, the Odisha government unveiled projects worth over Rs 150 crore. Ores and natural resource deposits are said to be present in and around the Kotiya area, located at the bottom of the hills. The possibility also remains high as it is also close to the bauxite mines being mined by NALCO in Koraput.