Brief on zonal councils

There are five Zonal Councils which are statutory bodies set up under the States Re-organization Act, 1956 to provide a common meeting ground to the States and UTs in each zone for resolution of inter-State and regional issues, fostering balanced socio-economic regional development and building harmonious Centre-State relations. The Zonal Council meetings are chaired by the Union Home Minister. The Chief Ministers and two Ministers from the member States are the members in each Zonal Council. In case of UTs, there are two members from each UT.

Each Zonal Council has set up a Standing Committee consisting of Chief Secretaries of the member States of the respective Zonal Councils. The Standing Committees meet from time to time to resolve the issues or to do necessary ground work for further meetings of the Zonal Councils. Senior Officers from the NITI Aayog (erstwhile Planning Commission), Central Ministries and State Governments are associated with the meetings depending upon necessity.

Meetings of Standing Committee and Zonal Councils

Considering the great potential of this forum in resolving regional and inter-state issues through cordial discussions, the present government after coming to power reviewed the work of Zonal Councils and instructed the Inter State Council Secretariat to reactivate the Councils and convene regular meetings. The Zonal Councils have now been reactivated and the meetings of the Zonal Councils and their Standing Committees are being conducted regularly. All meetings of the 5 Zonal Councils were held during the year 2015-16, which earlier happened only in the year 2005.

During the period 2014-17, 9 meetings of the Zonal Councils under the Chairmanship of the Hon’ble Home Minister and 11 Standing Committee Meetings under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretaries were held as detailed below:

Zonal Council Meetings

Name of Zone

Date and place

 Items

discussed

 Items

Resolved

Eastern Zonal Council

16.01.2015

 (Patna)

25

3

27.6.2016

 (Ranchi)

30

9

Western Zonal Council

29.09.2015

 (Panaji)

23

17

21.10.2016

 (Mumbai)

18

15

Northern Zonal Council

25.04.2015

 (New Delhi)

25

14

12.5.2017       (Chandigarh)

(Chandigarh)

18

5

Southern Zonal Council

12.12.2015

 (Vijayawada)

19

11

28.12.2016

 (Thiruvananthapuram)

25

14

Central Zonal Council

19.01.2015

 (Lucknow)

34

4

 

                           Total

217

92

Standing Committee Meetings

Name of Zone

Date and place

Items

discussed

 Items

Resolved

Eastern Zonal Council

07.11.2014

(Patna)

49

20

29.1.2016

(Ranchi)

60

28

Western Zonal Council

02.12.2014

(New Delhi)

35

23

22.3.2016

(Panaji)

28

16

Northern Zonal Council

27.11.2014

(New Delhi)

44

21

26.5.2016

(Srinagar)

35

28

Southern Zonal Council

19.11.2014

(Hyderabad)

62

36

14.10.2016

(Thiruvananthapuram)

39

17

Central Zonal Council

31.10.2014

 (New Delhi)

50

16

22.09.2015

 (Raipur)

59

41

4.8.2016

 (New Delhi)

34

12

 

                         Total

495

258

Some of the important issues discussed in these meetings were Bringing Green Revolution to the East Zone, issues relating to Fisheries, Productivity of Livestock & Poultry, measures to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE) etc. Issues relating to Security of Marine Fishermen and Coastal Security, issuance of biometric identity cards to marine fishermen and card readers, bringing back fishermen belonging to Gujarat languishing in Pakistani Jails, steps to check pollution in Damanganga and Kolak Rivers due to discharge of untreated effluents from the industries located in the Vapi Industrial Area of Gujarat etc. Sharing of Water & Power among the Northern States, curbing pollution in Delhi from neighboring States, need to check smuggling of drugs and illicit firearms etc., improvement of airport infrastructure, steps to increase housing stocks in the country under the GoI policy “Housing for All-2022″, need to increase density of roads and upgradation of existing highways, etc. Uniformity in allocation of funds in proportion to population of SCs/STs for scholarship for all the courses, containing Maoists activities in tri-junction area of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, High Speed Rail Corridors and introduction of Peninsular Tourism trains etc. Joint efforts for export of fruits, flowers and vegetables from the States, Sharing of Water and power, contamination of water in Canals of Rajasthan off-taking from Harike Barrage, Setting up of 27 Mini Hydel Power Projects by Punjab on Bhakra Main Line with Generation capacity of 63.75 MW etc.

In June, 2016 Hon’ble Home Minister chaired a meeting of the Home Ministers/DGPs of all the Coastal States/UTs at Mumbai and reviewed the progress relating to issuance of biometric identity cards to fishermen & card readers etc. Central Ministries and concerned States/UTs were asked to take time bound action for completing issuance of bio-metric identity cards and card readers. The State Governments were also requested to provide mobile numbers of fishermen to Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) so as to enable INCOIS to give information relating to potential fishing Zones, ocean state forecast, high wave alert, Tsunami early warning etc. to the marine fishermen.