Mrunal Manmay Dash

Fuelling an already flared up controversy surrounding the encroachment of Kotia Panchayat under Odisha’s Koraput district by Andhra Pradesh, the southern neighbour once again ‘intruded’ into the ‘contended territory’ and laid foundation stones for several projects on Thursday.

As per reports, the Project Director of Parbatipuram Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) under the AP government laid foundation stones for health centre, Anganwadi centre and a Panchayat building at Phatusineri under the Panchayat.

Apart from this, the foundation stone for a Krishak Bandhu Centre was also laid at the Phagusineri village under the same Panchayat.

Earlier on Monday, the local administration in Koraput had foiled an attempt by an MLA from the neighbouring state to host a series of political events at Phatusineri village under the Panchayat.

The MLA of Salur Legislative Constituency (AP), Rajan Dora was due to host several political and cultural events at Phatusineri. The Project Director of Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) at Parvatipuram, among others, was supposed to join the programme.

However, taking cognizance of the sensitivity of the ground situation in Kotia where the AP Government had conducted Panchayat elections recently, the Koraput district administration and local political leaders foiled their bid by placing barricades at the State border between Odisha’s Phatusineri and AP’s Nandagram.

It has been suspected that after the barricades were removed from the border and the officials left the place unguarded, the Andhra officials trespassed into the area and laid the foundation stones.

Notably, Kotia was recently in the limelight over the conduct of Panchayat elections by Andhra Pradesh while the dispute over 21 villages under the panchayat is still sub-judice at the Supreme Court of India.