Koraput: While the Odisha government is embroiled in a dispute with Andhra Pradesh over ownership of several villages in Kotiya panchayat of Koraput district, the State government introduced a new passenger bus service here on Friday.

"Apart from providing better transportation to the local people, the service will boost tribal economy," said Krutibas Rout, Sub-Collector of Koraput.

Villagers say movement of people from villages in the Kotiya panchayat will augur well for the socio-economic development of the tribals.

"We are delighted as bus service has been introduced in the area. Earlier, villagers used to depend on small vehicles to cover 27 km to reach Kunduli and then catch a bus either to go to Pottangi or Koraput. Now we can also transport our produce and sell it in urban areas," said Ajay Pangi, a Kotiya resident.

Officials said the bus service will help over 4,000 villagers of the panchayat. The bus will cover around 250 km every day.

The administration has also erected a check post at Taupadar village, which is on the road leading to Kotiya to check entry of Andhra Pradesh people into Kotiya, said Sadashiv Adhikari, additional block development officer, Pottangi.

Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are entangled in a battle since 1968 over the ownership of 21 out of the 28 villages under Kotiya panchayat.

Last week, the visit of officials from Vizianagaram district in Andhra Pradesh and launching of their flagship programme Janmabhoomi at Tolo Ganjeipadar village in the panchayat had taken Odisha government by surprise, officials said.