The border dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha over 21 villages in the Kotia gram panchayat has been ongoing for over five decades. Recently, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, claimed that these villages belong to Odisha during a visit to Kotia on April 1. This has caused controversy, with Andhra Pradesh demanding an apology and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha criticising Pradhan’s visit as politically motivated.
The Kotia cluster of villages, located near Odisha’s Koraput district, are believed to have abundant mineral resources. At the time of Odisha’s formation in 1936, the government had mistakenly skipped surveying these villages, and Andhra Pradesh did not survey them at the time of its formation in 1956. With both states claiming administrative authority over 21 of the 28 villages in Kotia gram panchayat, the matter was taken to the Supreme Court in 1968. In 2006, the court held that inter-state boundaries did not fall within its jurisdiction and only the Parliament could resolve them.
Most residents of these border villages have ration cards and voter identification cards from both state governments and are eligible to avail benefits of welfare schemes of both state governments. Some of these villages reportedly have two sarpanches, representing the two states. Despite efforts by both state governments to strengthen their claim on the villages through development projects, the dispute remains unresolved.
In April last year, Andhra Pradesh was reorganised to create 13 new districts, including the Parvathipuram Manyam district with all 28 villages under Kotia gram panchayat merged with Salur mandal as per the district map. This further aggravated the controversy, with many Odisha leaders protesting the move. Later, in October 2022, Andhra Pradesh Deputy CM Rajanna Dora visited Kotia panchayat and discussed welfare schemes with the residents, triggering another row.
As the residents of Kotia await a resolution, the dispute continues to cause tension between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.