Kotia Villages in Odisha Reel under Identity Crisis, Andhra Pradesh Claims Territory

Reported by

Faizi AhmadLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

March 16, 2021

Location of Conflict

Kotia

Koraput

This is a Left Wing Extremism Affected District

This is A Schedule Five District

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Border Dispute

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

5500

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

Starting Year

1953

State

Odisha

Sector

Land Use

Twenty-one villages in Koraput district in Odisha, more commonly known as the Kotia group of villages, have been caught in an identity crisis since the 1950s. Both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh claim jurisdiction over them, as they are situated along the inter-state border, although the villages are part of the Kotia panchayat in Koraputs Pottangi constituency. After Odisha was formed in 1936, the state government wrote to the then government of Madras Presidency to take steps for delineation of the interstate boundary with Andhra Pradesh. H.S. Gilby, the then assistant director of Survey and Land Records, was appointed to demarcate the boundary in 1942. According to his report, the 21 villages fell within the boundary of Andhra Pradesh. The dispute started in March 1955 when some subordinate government officers from Andhra Pradesh tried to collect rent from the village residents, following the formation of the state in 1953. Y.V. Chavan, the then home minister of India, tried to bring the chief ministers of both the states together to resolve the dispute in a meeting in September 1968. Chavan noted that based on Gilbys report of 1942, which Odisha had accepted, it was difficult to support the states claim over the disputed villages. The Odisha government filed a case in the Supreme Court in 1968. In the original suit, 73 villages were specified to be disputed, but, subsequently, the number was reduced to 21 in 1980. The disputed villages are Doliamba, Madakaru, Kotiya, Digurasembi, Equrasembi, Gangaibhadra, Dhulipadar, Sidivalasa, Arjuvalasa, Panika, Narlavalsa, Tadivalsa, Ranasingi, Simageda, Mahipani, Pattuchenaru, Pagulchenaru, Solapguda, Harmadangi, Kanadora and Barnaguda. The suit claimed that the villages falling within the territory of Odisha were being trespassed upon by Andhra Pradesh. It questioned whether the disputed villages were part of Salur or Pottangi tehsils. The court noted that Pottangi appears to be within the territory of Odisha while Salur comes within the territory of Andhra Pradesh. On March 30, 2006, the suit was disposed of by the Supreme Court, which held that the Parliament alone is authorised to determine the territorial limits of states. At least 5,500 people are caught up in this border war, which has lasted for over 60 years. The villages have two sarpanches (village panchayat heads): Biswanath Khila who represents Odisha and Bisu Gemel who represents Andhra Pradesh. In a bid to woo residents towards them, the two states have provided various benefits to the people in these villages, such as ration, houses, roads and healthcare facilities. In February 2020, the Andhra Pradesh government distributed forest land rights to 19 families of Arjuvalasa village. On February 13, the state also held panchayat polls in three of the disputed villages. On February 25, the Odisha Assembly witnessed ruckus over the issue and the session had to be adjourned. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Andhra Pradesh government over a contempt of court plea filed by Odisha. The plea states that the disputed villages have been under the control of the local administration of Odisha and that the state has undertaken several infrastructure initiatives in these villages.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Supreme Court of India

Case Number

Original suit number 10 of 1968, decided on March 30, 2006

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Odisha Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department, Chief Commissioner of Land Administration, Government of Andhra Pradesh

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
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Documented By

Faizi Ahmad

Reviewed By

Faizi Ahmad

Updated By

Faizi Ahmad

Edited By

Faizi AhmadLand Conflict Watch
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