Why in News?
Recently, the Minister of Home Affairs chaired the 25th meeting of the Western Zonal Council at Diu.
Issues discussed in the Meeting-
- Observing of rape and sexual offences cases against women and children, implementation of Fast Track Courts (FTCs) for such cases.
- Advancement of banking services in rural areas.
- Verification of identity of Marine fishermen in high seas.
- Development of local contingency plan by coastal States for Mass Rescue Operation in high seas and promotion of Make in India initiative through Preference in Public Procurement.
- Several issues related to security, boundary, infrastructure transport, and industries pertaining to western States.
About Zonal Councils-
- Zonal Councils are the statutory bodies (and not the constitutional).
- They are set up by an Act of the Parliament, known as States Reorganisation Act of 1956.
- The act divided the country into 05 zones- Northern, Central, Eastern, Western and Southern and provided a zonal council for each zone.
- While forming these zones, various factors have been taken into account which involve,
- The natural divisions of the country.
- The river systems and means of communication.
- The cultural and linguistic affinity.
- The requirements of economic development, security and law and order.
- Furthermore, a North-Eastern Council was created by a separate Act of Parliament, the North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.
- Its members comprise Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
- These are advisory bodies that make recommendations regarding any matter of common interest in the field of social and economic planning between the Centre and States border disputes, linguistic minorities, inter-State transport or matters related to the reorganisation of States.
- Composition of councils-
- The Northern Zonal Council- It consists the States of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
- The Central Zonal Council- It contains the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh,
- The Eastern Zonal Council- It includes the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal.
- The Western Zonal Council- It includes the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
- The Southern Zonal Council- It involves the States of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
- Organizational Structure-
- Chairman- The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
- Vice Chairman- The Chief Ministers of the States involved in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of 01 year at a time.
- Members- Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories (UTs) involved in the zone.
- Advisers- One person nominated by the NITI Aayog for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer or Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone.
- Promote national integration.
- Preventing the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies.
- Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and share ideas and experiences.
- Developing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and prompt execution of development projects.
- Functions of the Councils-
- Any matter of common interest in the field of social and economic planning,
- Any matter regarding border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport,
- Any matter connected with or arising out of, the reorganization of the States under the States Reorganisation Act.