Vikash Sharma

Odisha is celebrating Utkala Dibasa, its foundation day with much fanfare, today. However, there is a village where its residents are still searching for their identity owing to territorial conflict with the neighbouring West Bengal. We are talking about the Sankhamedi village under Bhograi block of Odisha's Balasore district.

The Sankhamedi village under Analia panchayat is home to nearly 100 families with total voters numbering around 300. The people here are reportedly voters of Odisha and beneficiaries of various schemes but as per revenue department records, the residents do not belong to Odisha; rather, they belong to West Bengal after the neighbouring state staked claim by releasing a map in 1990.

“Houses allotment from West Bengal has stopped. We are getting facilities including rice, roads, school, and others from Odisha,” said Ajay Jena, a local resident.

Around 40 students are studying in the primary school here and are facing difficulties in availing of higher education owing to lack of permanent residentship. Not only students, people here are also facing problems in availing loans from the cooperative society.

Resentment is brewing among the residents as the inter-state territory dispute is yet to be resolved even after 88 years.

“I joined as a teacher in 2022 when there were 38 students. But students' drop out is on the rise. Similarly, there is no provision for higher education,” said Brajagopal Behera, a teacher at the primary school here.

The people of the village want to stay with Odisha. According to them, they were deprived of the benefits of the Central schemes after the Odisha government stopped collecting land revenue in 1990. The people are demanding a permanent solution to the problem by either announcing the village as a part of Odisha or West Bengal.

“Till 1990, the Odisha government was collecting revenue from Sankhamedi village but it stopped collection subsequently. Under Sarva Sikhsya Abhiyan, a primary school was set up here in 2012. After that, the Odisha government went into deep slumber,” said Congress leader Satyashib Das.

Also Read | President Murmu, PM Modi extend greetings to people of Odisha on Utkala Dibasa

West Bengal Minister and Ramnagar MLA Akhil Giri said that there are voters of both Odisha and West Bengal at Sankhamedi village.

Meanwhile, the administrative officials could not be contacted over the matter.

  • Reported by:
  • Ajit Das