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Not aware of AP’s schemes in Kotia: Odisha revenue minister

Bhubaneswar: Members cutting across party lines on Friday expressed concern in the Assembly over the government’s failure to protect border areas from neighbouring states which are trying to draw people with various schemes.

The issue which cropped up during the question hour on Thursday spilled over to the zero hour on Friday as Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramilla Mallick replying to a question from Soumya Ranjan Patnaik (BJD) had said that the State government is not aware of any activities of the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government in the disputed Kotia villages.

Raising supplementaries, Patnaik had wanted to know whether the State government is aware about its AP counterpart’s intensified efforts to win Kotia residents’ confidence by implementing schemes similar to that of the Odisha government.

Accusing the Andhra Pradesh government of distributing forest land deeds and voter identity cards to Kotia residents unlawfully, Patnaik sought to know what steps were being taken by the Odisha government to stop such activities.

Apart from holding health camps, the AP government is reportedly providing ration cards, birth and death certificates, different allowances and land deeds to Kotia people. However, replying to the MLA’s query, the Minister said that the State government is not aware of this issue. If the government comes to know about it, positive action will be taken to stop the AP government, she stated.

The Pottangi MLA Pritam Padhi also alleged that officials from AP cross over to the Odisha side and distribute freebies to the people. He criticised the State government for neglecting the people of Kotia area.

Picking up the issue from here, deputy leader of the BJP Legislature Party Bishnu Charan Sethi came down heavily on the State government and asked why the Odisha ministers are not visiting the disputed areas when their AP counterparts are doing so.

“What do we understand from this – the question posed by BJD MLA Soumya Patnaik and what Pottangi MLA Pritam Padhi is saying is true or that the answer given by Minister Pramila Mallick is true?” he said.

The Odisha Adarsha Vidyalaya has started functioning from the current academic session as per the announcement made by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik earlier. The school has been set up at Ganjeipadar village in Pottangi block of Koraput district.

According to official sources, 59 students have taken admission to Class VI. The school will impart education in the CBSE pattern.