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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: Following an announcement by the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh government regarding conduct of elections in three villages under Kotia Gram Panchayat on Odisha – Andhra border (OAB), senior Congress leaders criticised CM Naveen Patnaik for his alleged failure in providing security and amenities to the people of the region. Odisha Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Narasingha Mishra has described Naveen as a 'weak leader' who cannot protect the State.

"The fact that an outside State is conducting elections in Odisha is enough to prove that Odisha is in the hands of weak leadership. CM Naveen cannot ensure safety of the State, it proves that his leadership is weak. The Odisha-Andhra border issue in Kotia is a long-standing controversy and a mere transfer of Collector won't work. In spite of being in power for over 20 years, Naveen government has not taken any step for security of the State and its citizens," criticised Narasingha Mishra.

Senior Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati said that most of the Kotia residents are leaning towards Andhra as they are getting deprived of basic amenities from Odisha government. "Andhra Pradesh has fixed its eyes on Kotia only for gold mines. Locals of the region are also inclining towards the neighbouring State as Odisha government has done no concrete developmental works. Instead of just launching projects, CM Naveen should visit Kotia to review the ground situation," said Bahinipati.

Andhra's intrusion speaks of its dominance in Kotia, and it is only because of Odisha government's callousness, alleged senior BJP leader Jayaram Pangi. "The State government seems to be in deep slumber. Despite SC directive, the administration here is not trying to resort to discussions with its counterparts to end the continuing territorial dispute," Pangi said.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has also called for united efforts to resolve the border dispute at Kotia.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday unveiled a slew of developmental projects for the Kotia region. Several welfare projects including a primary health centre, boys and girls hostels and other projects at Kotia panchayat were inaugurated by Patnaik through video-conferencing today. Speaking on the occasion, the CM said, “Odisha government is working for the all-round development of the State. Steps will be taken to transform Kotia into a model panchayat.”

The move comes days after Andhra Pradesh earlier this week announced panchayat elections in villages of Kotia panchayat in Koraput district. As per a notification issued by the AP government on January 31, it has decided to conduct Panchayat elections on February 13 and 17 in the villages of Tala Ganjeipadar, Patu Sineri and Fagun Sineri villages under Kotia by changing their names to Ganjaibadra, Pattuchennuru and Pagulchennuru respectively.

On the heels of the ongoing OAB dispute, State government on Thursday removed Koraput Collector Madhusudan Mishra from his position. He has been transferred as the Additional Secretary of the Forest and Environment department. Cuttack Project Director of District Rural Development Agency (PD-DRDA), Mohammed Abdal Akhtar replaced Mishra as the new Collector of Koraput yesterday.

ALSO READ | Border Row: AP Starts Road Construction At Dispute Site In Koraput Defying Status Quo

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