On a Wednesday afternoon, it’s all quiet on the major college in Phattuseneri village in Kotia gram panchayat in Koraput district. The college, with a map of Odisha on one in all its partitions, is shut — it’s open solely two days every week owing to the pandemic — however the college students are away, on the close by Telugu-medium Mandal Parishad major college.
The Telugu-medium college, propped up by bamboo poles and an asbestos roof, got here up 5 months in the past. All across the momentary construction are banners and posters asserting schemes of the Andhra Pradesh authorities. As a bunch of youngsters recite numbers in Telugu, the instructor, A Ganesha, says, “There are seven students enrolled in Class 1 in this school. The same students are enrolled in the Odia-medium school as well.”
Phattuseneri is one in all 21 villages in Kotia gram panchayat that lie on the centre of a longstanding border battle between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
On August 31, the Supreme Court suggested each the state governments to resolve the border dispute after Odisha filed a case of contempt within the apex court docket over Andhra’s resolution to conduct rural elections in six villages within the area. The bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna granted each states six weeks to carry political discussions to resolve the dispute.
But on the bottom, little has modified, with the states solely intensifying their interventions by social schemes. Two weeks in the past, a workforce from Andhra Pradesh arrived right here and performed bhumi puja for an anganwadi centre, an arogya centre, a farmers’ corridor and a panchayat workplace, moreover finishing up a plantation drive. That prompted a workforce from Odisha to hurry to the spot a day later.
It’s this tug of warfare that has dominated the lives of individuals and officers in these components.
In Phattuseneri, whereas electrical energy is supplied by the Andhra Pradesh, each the governments present consuming water and make it a degree to promote the identical by banners and hoardings on water tanks.
Around 5 km from Phattuseneri are two villages — known as Upra (Upper) Sembi and Tala (Lower) Sembi in Odia and Yeguva (Upper) Sembi and Takkuva (Lower) Sembi in Telugu — the place some folks have Aadhar playing cards from Odisha and the others from AP.
“Both the states have been fighting over this region. Often, development work gets stopped because of their tussle. At the end of the day, we are okay being part of whichever state that provides us better opportunities,” says Pilku Tadingi, 27, of Upra Sembi village, talking in Odia. His Aadhaar card idntifies him as being from Upra Sembi village, Koraput district, Odisha.
Three homes away, in the identical village, is Tadanki Sriram, 26, whose Aadhaar card says he’s a resident of Yeguva Sembi, Sariki, Vizianagram district, AP.
Around 12 km from right here, in Madkar village, every technology speaks a distinct language. Babula Tadingi, 18, a primary technology learner, speaks Odia, one of many few who can. Others converse Kui, a language of the Kondh tribe. The youthful kids converse fluent Telugu, with many being enrolled in Telugu-medium residential faculties in Salur.
Officials say contradictions additionally come up whereas figuring out beneficiaries for presidency schemes. For occasion, the Rana and Dora communities have tribal standing in Andhra Pradesh, whereas they’re within the OBC class in Odisha.
Apart from laying basis stones for varied initiatives, the AP authorities has additionally been conducting citizen redressal and veterinary camps, distributing land pattas and increasing welfare schemes. The Koraput district administration has usually resorted to barricading the border areas and deploying police officers to ban “unwarranted entries”.
In 2018, the AP authorities had supplied Aadhaar playing cards and initiated the development of roads within the area. In retaliation, the identical 12 months, Odisha declared a Rs 150-crore growth bundle for the area. In mid-2019, for the primary time, all of the villages within the disputed area turned accessible by street. In January, the primary ever cell tower was arrange by the Odisha state authorities within the space, adopted by an announcement the next month that Kotia can be developed right into a mannequin panchayat.
“Our claim is that we have been exercising jurisdiction in the region since Odisha was formed and our rule is clear that in all these villages, our schemes, development activities, and additional support in terms of infrastructure and livelihood will be extended to the residents of Kotia,” Koraput District Collector Abdaal M Akhtar stated.
AP income officers, then again, maintained that the disputed villages are administered by their state authorities and the villagers additionally obtain advantages of assorted schemes by the AP authorities.
But like most disputes, this one goes again a good distance.
Prior to April 1, 1936, the villages of Kotia panchayat have been a part of Jeypore princely state. In 1936, the Government of India issued an order to create a separate province on linguistic foundation. The order demarcated Odisha from the erstwhile Madras presidency, with the latter together with present-day Andhra Pradesh. However, in 1942, the Madras authorities contested the boundary and appointed G S Gilby to demarcate the 2 states. In a joint survey of Odisha, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, seven villages of Kotia gram panchayat below Pottangi block have been recorded as income villages below Odisha. At the time of the survey, 21 villages have been disregarded and never surveyed. At the time of creation of the state of Andhra Pradesh in 1955, the villages weren’t surveyed by the Andhra Pradesh authorities both.
There has been no decision since then, with each states claiming the realm as a part of their territory.