For locals of disputed Kotia, life is a blessing in disguise. Located on the AP-Odisha border, the village has been at loggerheads for seven decades now over territorial jurisdiction between the two states. However, the locals have managed to make the best of this dispute, benefiting from the welfare schemes of AP government, and the development programmes of Odisha. They have dual voting rights and can participate in local body and assembly elections in both the states.
The 5,000-plus people living in Kotia cluster receive a unique, dual benefit which would not have been possible otherwise. Despite the political divide between AP and Odisha regarding their claims to Kotia, villagers have been able to relax and enjoy their lives. They possess two sets of documents, such as ration and identity cards, one from each state, and even their children attend schools in both the states to tap into additional financial funds.
The rural infrastructure requires an upgrade to better the living standards of the residents. Dhulibhadra and the nearby areas are home to over 40 children below 10 years of age, and their parents take advantage of the Amma Vodi scheme offered by AP government, by enrolling them in primary schools of either of the states.
Odisha has been particularly active in terms of development work, laying roads and providing better connectivity from Kotia to Nanda, in addition to offering 10 kgs of rice per month to each person, and creating small houses. The AP government has yet to focus on development, but they have been supporting locals with financial aid by implementing welfare schemes and infrastructure related to water supply.
The dispute over Kotia dates back to 1968 when Odisha took the issue to Supreme Court. The court instructed both parties to maintain status quo, and that political leaders and officials of both states could visit the village. In April 2021, AP conducted panchayat, MPTC and ZPTC elections in the cluster, leading some people to ask that the Union Government do a comprehensive survey of Kotia village to get a proper understanding of the ground-level situation.
The best of both worlds are present for the local people of Kotia, in spite of the ongoing political dispute. With a little help and progress, the living standards of the village could quickly rise and make Kotia a better off and more harmonious place to live.