Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will chair the 26th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council to be held in Vijayawada, tomorrow. The Southern Zonal Council comprises Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Puducherry States. The Chief Ministers of these States and senior officers from both Central and State Governments are expected to participate in the meeting.
The Zonal Councils, created under the States’ Reorganization Act, 1956, are advisory bodies that discuss and advise the Central and State Governments on matters of common interest pertaining to a gamut of subjects, viz., infrastructures, health, security, social welfare, linguistic minorities, border disputes, etc., on the action to be taken in such matter. There are five Councils, one for each Zone viz., Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern, and Central. The secretarial functions of the Zonal Councils have been transferred to the Inter State Council Secretariat with effect from 1 April, 2011. The North-East Council set up under a separate Act of 1971 is under the administrative ambit of the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER). The meeting of each Zonal Council needs to be held once in a year to iron out the differences between the governments on issues of development concerning regional interest and national programmes. However, meetings of most of the zonal councils were quite infrequent during the past.
Given the great potential of these institutions in resolving regional and interstate issues through their consultative mechanism, the present Government immediately after coming to power decided to revive and further strengthen these fora. Inter State Council Secretariat, which looks after the work of Zonal Council since 2011, was instructed to take on the preparatory work to complete meetings of all Zonal Councils, pending for years, by the end of 2015.
The 8th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Southern Zonal Council was held at Hyderabad on November 19 last year to scrutinize the agenda for deliberation and resolution for this meeting.
Issues of Inter-State and Centre-State cooperation and coordination have been flagged for this meeting, such as coastal security, peninsular region industrial corridor, introduction of peninsular tourism trains, finalization of inter-state reciprocal transport agreement, curbing the use of unacceptable levels of pesticides in fruits and vegetables, maintaining uniform standards of nursing courses, etc. Some other substantial issues of Centre State and Inter-State matters are also likely to be raised by Member States in the Council. (NSS)