Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on Tuesday, November 9, decided to work closely on resolving various inter-state issues, including tackling the problem of left-wing extremism and ganja cultivation. The Chief Ministers of the two states, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Naveen Patnaik, issued a joint statement to this effect at the end of their two-hour-long meeting in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday evening.
The Chief Ministers discussed a number of issues of mutual interest, particularly in the field of water resources, common boundary, energy and left-wing extremism. Terming the meeting as "very cordial and fruitful", the Chief Ministers said they decided to work closely on resolving the contentious Kotia border villages issue, construction of Neradi barrage on river Vamsadhara, Janjhavati reservoir, release of water from Bahuda river, the Polavaram multipurpose project and issuing of mutual no-objection certificate for Balimela and Upper Sileru power projects.
The dispute over the ownership of 16 out of 28 villages of Kotia between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh was brought up at the meeting. Both the states had approached the Supreme Court over the issue and the apex court in 2006 had asked them to maintain the status quo. However, the Andhra Pradesh government conducted panchayat polls in three villages in Kotia gram panchayat in Koraput district by changing their names in February this year, officials said. In August, the Supreme Court asked the two states to resolve the Kotia issue through bilateral discussions.
The two neighbouring states resolved to "continue the legacy of mutual cooperation and, in the true spirit of federalism, discuss issues," the statement said. It added, "The Chief Ministers have decided that Chief Secretaries of both states will set up an institutional mechanism to deliberate on outstanding issues and find a solution that is in the best interest of the people of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh."
The two states would also work towards setting up a chair for Odia and Telugu languages at the BR Ambedkar University (at Srikakulam) and Berhampur University respectively. Besides, language teachers would be appointed in schools in border districts of the two states, textbooks supplied and language examination conducted to "promote brotherhood", the joint statement added.
The Vamsadhara Water Disputes Tribunal had recently permitted Andhra Pradesh to go ahead with the construction of the Neradi barrage on the Vamsadhara. The Andhra Pradesh government is reportedly prepared to pay compensation for the submerged lands and rehabilitation of the displaced people in Odisha's Rayagada and Gajapati district. However, Odisha is yet to respond to the proposal.