About: Zonal Councils

About: Zonal Councils:

  • The idea of creation of Zonal Councils was mooted by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1956.
  • Subsequently, through States Reorganization Act of 1956, Zonal Councils were established as statutory bodies.
  • Objective: To promote cooperation and coordinationbetween states, union territories and the Centre.
  • The Act divided the country intofive zones (Northern, Central, Eastern, Western and Southern) andprovided a zonal council for each zone.

Division of Zonal Councils:

  • Northern Zonal Council: Himachal Pradesh, Haryana,Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi,Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmirand Ladakh.
  • Central Zonal Council: Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand,Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Eastern Zonal Council: Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal andOdisha.
  • Western Zonal Council: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Dadraand Nagar Haveli and Daman andDiu.
  • Southern Zonal Council: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana,Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala andPuducherry.

Composition:

  • Each zonal council consists of following members:
    • Union Home Minister
    • Chief Ministers of all the states in the zone
    • Two other ministers from each state in the zone
    • Administrator of each union territory in the zone

  • The Union Home Minister is the common chairman of the five zonal councils.
  • Each Chief Minister acts as avice-chairman of the council by rotation, holding office for a period ofone year at a time.

Functions of Zonal Councils:

  • Zonal Councils discuss and make recommendations regarding matters like economic and socialplanning, linguistic minorities, border disputes, interstate transport,and so on.
  • They are only deliberative and advisory bodies.
  • The functions of the zonal councils are as follows:
    • To achieve an emotional integrity of the country.
    • To help in arresting the growth of acute state-consciousness,regionalism, linguism and particularistic trends.
    • To enable the Centre and states to cooperate with each other insocial and economic matters and exchange ideas andexperience in order to evolve uniform policies.
    • To cooperate with each other in the successful and speedyexecution of major development projects.
    • To secure some kind of political equilibrium between differentregions of the country.

About: North-Eastern Council (NEC)

  • Apart from the 5 zonal councils, a separate North-Eastern Council was created through North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.
  • Its functions are similar to those of the zonal councils, but with few additions.
  • It has to formulate a unified and coordinatedregional plan covering matters of common importance.
  • It has toreview from time to time the measures taken by the member statesfor the maintenance of security and public order in the region.
  • Members: Assam,Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripuraand Sikkim.

How Issues are resolved in Zonal Councils:

  • Each Zonal Council has set up a Standing Committee consisting of Chief Secretaries of the member States of their respective Zonal Councils.
  • These Standing Committees meet from time to time to resolve the issues or to do necessary ground work for further meetings of the Zonal Councils.
  • Since these are advisory bodies, there is full scope for free and frank exchange of views in their meetings.
  • Being compact high level bodies, specially meant for looking after the interests of respective zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors while keeping the national perspective in view.

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