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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Paralakhemundi: Amid the ongoing border dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha government, the curious case of Manikpatana under Rayagad block of Gajapati district has now caught the attention of the administration as reports suggest that despite being under the revenue map of Odisha, the village is de facto governed by the neighbouring AP government.

What's even surprising is that the locals absolutely have no problem with it.

The village Manikpatana under Gangabada Panchayat has allegedly been long neglected by the Odisha government. With no motorable roads, lack of drinking water supply and a dismal electricity connection, the locals had lost all hopes of a basic standard of living.

Seeing an opportunity in this, in came the AP authorities, bang with roads, drinking water and an uninterrupted electricity to eventually become a potential saviour of these down-trodden.

Alasa Sabar, a local of Manikpatana said, "Our village suffered a lot during rains. With no pucca roads, we had to wade through mud whenever we stepped out of the house. Prior to initiating any work, the Srikakulam administration asked us, whether there will be any objection if they provide us with the facilities. We welcomed their offer and allowed them to construct roads."

"We wanted basic amenities. If Odisha could not provide us, we do not see any problem if any other state does so for us," added Sabar.

Quite evident, the AP government which on many occasions was seen making inroads into gullible villages of Odisha, has already set its eyes on Manikpatana.

After Malkangiri and Koraput, the saga of AP's expansionism policy continues in Gajapati as well. In fact at least 12 acres of land in Cherugudi Mouza under Paralakhemundi Tehsil have been encroached by Andhra's farmers for the last 40 years.

If sources are to be believed, the Srikakulam administration is actively providing all social security measures apart from electricity, water and pucca roads to the villagers which is why they are drifting towards Andhra Pradesh.

Apna Sabar, another local said, "Both Odisha and AP have electricity supplies here. While there are frequent power outages by Odisha, Andhra provides an uninterrupted power supply. It is obvious people will accept AP's offer."

Haribandhu Karji, former Sarpanch of Gangabada is also of a similar opinion. "From healthcare facilities to educational support, AP government is making every service available for them. That is why the villagers do not want to side with Odisha," he said.

However, the long pending dispute pertaining to the encroachment of farmlands in Cherugudi has forced the Gajapati administration to buckle up and conduct a joint survey along with the revenue officials of AP to demarcate the land and identify their actual owners.

"We have constituted a team to enquire into the alleged encroachment in detail. It came to our notice that a few officials of Andhra government were conducting some work in Manikpatana village under MGNREGA. Our BDO and JE visited the spot and stopped the unauthorised work," said, Sangram Sekhar Panda, the Sub-Collector of Gajapati.

(Edited By Devbrat Patnaik)

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