The dispute over the Kotia cluster of villages located on the Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Odisha border has lasted for more than seven decades and come as a relief for the 5,000 tribal villagers living there. These villagers find themselves lucky to be getting the best of both worlds, enjoying the welfare schemes and development programs of both AP and Odisha government. The villagers also have dual voting rights, making them eligible to participate in local and state elections of both states.
The Kotia village cluster consists of 21 tribal villages and is the only region to have achieved this balance between welfare and development. In April 2021, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan visited the village to celebrate Utkal Divas, the day of Odisha’s formation. His made certain remarks in support of Odisha, which AP deemed inappropriate, demanding an apology from the Union minister. As of now, the territorial dispute over Kotia is sub judice and no definitive decision can be made.
Life in the villages of Kotia is unique as documents and forms of identification like ration cards are shared between both states. It is not uncommon to find children studying in AP schools opting to study in Odisha schools as well, to benefit from the state’s various welfare schemes such as the Amma Vodi scheme that offers ₹15,000 of financial support.
The area surrounding Dhulibhadra has over 40 children below the age of 10, and generally speaking, the area enjoys the prosperity of roads, schools, hospitals and other developments provided by Odisha. On the other hand, the AP government provides financial support in the forms of Rythu Bharosa and Amma Vodi. However, some of the 11 inner villages still feel neglected.
The individual mentioned in this article is Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Education Minister who visited the Kotia cluster in April 2021. Pradhan made certain remarks in support of Odisha which AP deemed inappropriate. The company mentioned in the article is the Andhra Pradesh government which provides financial aid to the villagers in the form of the Amma Vodi scheme that offers ₹15,000 of financial support.
Kotia, with its dual benefits, has achieved a balance between welfare and development, and the success of this model could work in other tribal regions as well. It is apparent that with proper initiatives, the rural infrastructure in villages like Kotia can be upgraded in order to improve the livelihood and living standards of the locals. If properly addressed, the long-standing territorial dispute between both states can come to an amicable and beneficial solution for the residents of the Kotia cluster.