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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Koraput/Bhubaneswar: On the heels of the ongoing border dispute between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, the district Collector of Koraput, Madhusudan Mishra has been removed from his position and placed as the Additional Secretary of Forest and Environment department.

Cuttack Project Director of District Rural Development Agency (PD-DRDA), Mohammed Abdal Akhtar will be replacing Mishra as the new Collector of Koraput.

The development came at a time when Andhra Pradesh Government, which not only claims three villages under Kotia Gram Panchayat on Odisha - Andhra border as its own but has even gone to the lengths of announcing Panchayat elections in the region.

The Andhra Pradesh government issued notifications on January 31 to conduct Panchayat elections in the villages of Tala Ganjeipadar, Patu Sineri and Fagun Sineri villages by changing their names to Ganjaibadra, Pattuchennuru and Pagulchennuru respectively.

To make matters worse, no less than 15 locals from these villages have filed nominations on Thursday to contest elections conducted by AP.

As per the poll officer of Kurukuti Panchayat in Andhra's Salur block, out of the 15, a total of 13 members have filed nominations from Ganjeipadar renamed as Ganjaibadra. Similarly, one each has filed papers from Patu Sineri and Fagun Sineri renamed as Pattuchennuru and Pagulchennuru respectively by Andhra Pradesh.

Earlier in the day, the Bharatiya Janata Party targeted the Odisha government over its alleged lacklustre attitude in addressing the border dispute with Andhra Pradesh.

Terming the poll bugle by AP in the bordering villages, a 'Gigantic Failure' by the Odisha government, BJP's State General Secretary, Lekhashree Samantsinghar said, "AP Managed to assert its presence in Kotia because it is actually present there. I want to ask, where is Odisha government and what is it doing."

She did not mince words in criticising the 5T model of Odisha's governance too. Pulling 5T Secretary VK Pandian in to the mix, she said, "If Pandian can go to Harishankar and Nrusinghanath temples to review developmental projects then what stops him from visiting Kotia and prepare a proper plan that could keep the locals motivated to stay with us."

It is pertinent to mention here that, Andhra Pradesh has time and again tried to flex its muscles in the bordering areas of Koraput by claiming these three villages as their part in the map.

Whilst the border dispute involving Kotia is sub-judice in the Supreme Court, the Revenue Minister, Sudam Marndi said, "The Government is aware of the situation in Kotia, we will take appropriate steps at fitting time."

In the meantime, some development works carried out by Odisha government in Kotia area are scheduled to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on February 5. Prior to the inauguration, the Andhra Pradesh government seems to have challenged its Odisha counterpart by claiming the three villages as its own.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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