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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Vice President and Khandapada MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik on Tuesday triggered a row by openly admitting administrative negligence in the Kotia border dispute.

Patnaik was out to get him tested for COVID-19 before the budget session of the Odisha Assembly beginning on February 18, when he spoke his mind on many things including the much-hyped Kotia row.

"The issue could have been resolved if efforts were made at the grassroots level much earlier. Just because I am in the ruling party, I will not defend it blindly," Patnaik said

"I accept negligence on the part of the administrative machinery. However, even though it is late, the government is braced to fight over the issue," he added.

Patnaik further said though the border row is a long pending issue, it is not new in India. Almost all the States have border disputes with neighbouring states, he said.

Responding to the statement of the BJD leader, Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said, "We have always been critical of the government over the Kotia issue and now BJD MLA Soumya Patnaik's statements have proved it. I thank Soumya Babu for accepting government's negligence. If he has the guts, he should raise the issue in the State Assembly."

It is pertinent to mention here that, despite a letter from Koraput district Collector to his Vizianagaram (Andhra Pradesh) counterpart requesting not to conduct the Gram Panchayat election in Kotia, the neighbouring state went ahead with its plan nonetheless on February 13, 2021.

Earlier, the Odisha Government had moved the Supreme Court seeking contempt of court proceedings against Andhra Pradesh, mentioning in its petition that the apex court had earlier ordered to maintain status quo in the disputed area of Kotia.

According to sources, the people of these areas possess dual voter IDs and ration cards of both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

(Edited By Ramakanta Biswas)

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