Pottangi: The neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh is regularly trespassing into Odisha villages on the fringes and trying to grab land by luring the locals with the benefits of various welfare schemes.
Not to be left behind, the Odisha government is implementing several developmental projects in these villages to frustrate their bid and wean the locals off Andhra influence.
However, the authorities here are not involving the locals in these developmental works and instead engaging labourers from Andhra Pradesh during implementation of the projects. This has sparked tension and sharp resentment among the local residents.
The engagement of labourers from Andhra Pradesh in a developmental work being implemented in Tadibalsa village on the fringes of the neighbouring state and under Kotia panchayat of Koraput district is a case in this point.
The block administration has ordered for construction of a boundary wall around a state government-owned school at Tadibalsa village. However, the block officials instead of roping in the locals as labourers and providing them with a livelihood are employing labourers from Andhra Pradesh in the project. The money which could have gone into the hands of locals as wages is now passing onto the hands of Andhra Pradesh labourers.
Residents of Neredibalsa village close to Tadibalsa have questioned the wisdom behind the decision to engage labourers from Andhra Pradesh in the projects. They questioned the move saying how far it is right to neglect the border villagers and make them jobless.
The block administration is aware of the matter but refused to comment on the issue. When contacted, a block official said that the contractor is responsible for implementation of the project and it is he who engages the labourers.
This has come at a time when the state government, district and block administrations are trying to gain appreciation for implementing developmental projects to provide livelihood opportunities to the residents.
The opposition parties have questioned how far it is correct to neglect the local residents in the developmental projects especially when the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh is launching a plethora of schemes to lure the Odisha residents to its side. Locals alleged that the block administration has connived with the contractor to usurp the government while the district administration has turned a blind eye to such wrongdoing.
A villager Samalu Khara of Tadibalsa village said that they are not getting any work despite various projects being implemented by the block administration. They approached the block officials in this regard but their pleas are yet to be addressed.
Bimana Manik, another resident of Nredibalsa village alleged that this is regular phenomenon and the contractors of various developmental projects always engage the labourers from Andhra Pradesh instead of the local people who are jobless and seldom get any work when they visit Andhra Pradesh.
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