Why in the news?
The Minister of Home Affairs recently presided over the 25th meeting of the Western Zonal Council in Diu.
What issues were discussed at the meeting?
- Rural banking services should be improved.
- Monitoring of rape and sexual assault cases involving women and children, as well as the establishment of Fast Track Courts for such cases.
- Identity verification of marine fishermen on the high seas.
- Development of local contingency plans for mass rescue operations at sea by coastal states, as well as encouragement of the Make in India initiative through preference in public procurement.
- Various difficulties concerning the western states’ borders, security, infrastructure, transportation, and industry.
What exactly are Zonal Councils?
- Zonal Councils are statutory (rather than constitutional) bodies.
- They are founded by a Parliamentary Act, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956.
- The act split the country into five zones: Northern, Central, Eastern, Western, and Southern, with each zone having its own zonal council.
- Several variables were considered when creating these zones, including:
- The country’s natural divides.
- River systems and communication methods
- The shared cultural and linguistic heritage.
- Economic development, security, and law and order requirements
Aside from the Zonal Councils described above, a North-Eastern Council was established by a separate Act of Parliament, the North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.
Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Sikkim are among its members.
These are advisory organisations that provide recommendations on any item of shared interest in the realm of economic and social planning between the Centre and the States, such as boundary disputes, linguistic minorities, inter-State transportation, or issues related to state reorganisation.
- The Northern Zonal Council is made up of the following states:
- Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.
- The Central Zonal Council includes Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
- The Eastern Zonal Council is made up of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim, and West Bengal.
- The Western Zonal Council is made up of the states of Goa, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, as well as the union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
- The Southern Zonal Council is made up of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry, as well as the Union Territory of Puducherry.
Structure of the Organization:
- Each of these Councils is chaired by the Union Home Minister.
- Vice Chairman: By rotation, the Chief Ministers of the States involved in each zone serve as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone, each for a year at a time.
- Members: The Chief Minister and two other Ministers from each state selected by the Governor, as well as two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
- Advisers: The Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) nominates one person for each of the Zonal Councils, as well as Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner appointed by each of the Zone’s member states.
- Bringing forth national integration is one of the goals.
- Putting a stop to the rise of acute state consciousness, regionalism, linguism, and particularistic inclinations.
- Allowing the Center and the States to collaborate and share ideas and experiences.
- Creating a climate of cooperation among states for the successful and timely completion of development initiatives.
Functions of the Councils:
Any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, Any matter concerning border disputes, linguistic minorities, or inter-State transportation, Any matter connected with or arising from the reorganisation of the States under the States Reorganization Act