Trekking 15 km in the challenging mountains of eastern ghat region by two retired senior government servants of Odisha has sparked a new hope in rendering justice to the much-neglected people of Kotia group of villages in Koraput district.
Gadadhar Parida, former district collector and Gadadhar Swain, retired revenue inspector,walked down about 1,000 ft. from Pottangi to Neredivalasa after a little climbing through Budiaguda, Parajaseura, Simaguda, Raipadu, Tadingi Gabbar, Badruguda, Kumbiguda, Tadivalasa turning to the lap of the mountains from Sisaguda in the outskirts of Pottangi on Saturday.
They were not on any trekking or mountaineering expedition, but on a social cause. At a time when the high level official team from the state government were trying to find the solution to the issue of Kotia group of villages by visiting the villages near Kotia which were reachable by motor vehicles , these two former government servants wished to see if there was a solution by establishing communication to villages which had no road connections to the panchayat headquarter at Kotia or to the block headquarter at Pottangi.
Getting tips from Gadadghar Swain on the existence of a heritage road from Pottangi to Neredivalasa which was possibly carved out in the mountains by the British in the 1930s and later forgotten by the rulers of modern India after using the alternate route from Salur to Pottangi via Sunki, Mr.Parida walked to Neredivalasa.
The team of two found that the road still exists even though it was covered by bushes and trees. The British had done and thought of welfare of inaccessible people while the modern elected governments did not.
They were surprised to find that the state government had not thought of reviving and restore this road to establish connectivity to 15 villages of Kotia despite a plethora of schemes like PMGSY, Biju Sadak Yojana etc.
If this road were to be rebuilt people of 15 villages could travel a distance of 15 km to reach Pottangi, the block headquarter, without entering an inch of land of Andhra Pradesh. It is crucial given the dispute over the Kotia group of villages between AP and Odisha. Presently, the villagers travel by a government bus to Andhra Pradesh from Neredivalasa to Salur and then by another bus to Pottangi covering about 70 Kms.
According to Koteswar Rao, a local businessman in Sisaguda of Pottangi, his forefathers used to do business by bringing rice from Dumuriput weekly market near Koraput in bullock carts to the Sarki weekly market Neredivalasa using the old road route.
The route needs construction of a couple of culverts and bridges in addition to cleaning of bushes & trees to connect a long standing problem of Odisha with the possible solutions through establishing shortest road communication, Mr.Parida said.
This route being made with better technical know how has less challenging curves in comparison to Sunki and Salur ghat, once opened could attract even the commuters from Salur to travel through this road leaving the road through Sunki which could also act as a trigger to the economy of the Kotia group of villages he added.