Tribal people of 22 hamlets enjoying benefits of both Odisha, AP. One can reach these tiny villages from Neradavalasa of Sarakka panchayat of AP or Sunki of Odisha.

For nearly 4,500 tribal people living in 22 hilltop hamlets known as Kotia Group of Villages on the border area, it is a double bonanza.

Border row between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha has led to their inclusion in the census of both the States. As a result, the villagers are able to reap rich benefits using ration cards and other fruits of welfare programmes from both the governments. In fact, there is fierce competition among officials of both the States to dole out benefits on a platter.

One can reach these tiny villages from Neradavalasa of Sarakka panchayat of AP or Sunki of Odisha. All these villages are affected by left-wing extremist activity. Two Maoists were killed in an encounter by District Voluntary Force of Koraput, Odisha last year. This was followed by killing of four BSF jawans in a landmine blast on the highway near Pottangi. “It’s a God given opportunity for us to avail benefits from both the States due to the border dispute though we live with tension due to Maoist activity and frequent visit of police parties. We eke out a living by practising podu (shifting) cultivation and raising paddy and crops pulses on rain-fed irrigation,” said Gannela Manju of Ganjaibhadra.

The villagers alleged that due to corruption in implementation of NREGP, they get just Rs.100 per day. The tribal people regretted non-inclusion of sugar in the ration being given by AP and Odisha.

Liberal funding

Krishna Kora of Ronosingi said communication facility to most of the Kotia villages had improved in last few years due to liberal funding by the two States. “We have road laid by AP and power supplied by Odisha,” he said. In some of the villages, solar power has been supplied by Odisha.

The tribal people get 35 kg of rice per household from AP and 25 kg from Odisha ration depots at Rs. 1 a kg. They also draw old age and widow pensions from both the States. The dispute over control is pending in the Supreme Court.

Majority of the villagers belong to Jataba Dora tribal group. The villages come under Salur Assembly and Araku Lok Sabha of AP and Pottangi Assembly and Koraput LS constituencies of Odisha. The posters of the parties of both States were seen by The Hindu correspondent during a visit to Dhulipadar and other nearby villages.

“We have 50 families most of whom enjoy watching both Odia and Telugu TV channels through by satellite connections. As we live on the border we speak both the languages and have good relationship with the people of both the States in the neighbourhood,” Pangi Latchanna, a farm labourer of Dhulipadar said.

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