Thiruvananthapuram. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the 27th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council at Thiruvananthapuram December 28.
During the occasion, Mr Singh said that the Government is committed to further strengthen the Zonal Councils and the Inter State Council. He said that the meetings of five Zonal Councils and their Standing Committees were held in 2015 after a long gap. Earlier, all the five Zonal Council meetings were held in one year only in the years of 1972 and 2005.
The Home Minister said that the Zonal Councils provide a common meeting ground for the States to promote and facilitate coordinated efforts for fostering economic and social development.
He said that he was happy to note that both the member States and the Central Ministries have brought forward many important issues for consideration of the Southern Zonal Council and expressed happiness to note that the Standing Committee of the Southern Zonal Council, which met here a couple of months ago, had made the council’s task easier by sorting out many issues and making useful suggestions.
Mr Singh said that, in the recent past, the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) had been assuming serious dimensions in certain parts of the country. The recent incidents that occurred in Kerala underscored the paramount need for further tightening up of administrative and police machinery, he added.
The Home Minister said: “All possible steps will be taken to preserve and strengthen the integrity and safety of our country, be it either from external or internal threat.” He said that State Governments must ensure better inter-State coordination and take up joint operations in common border areas.
The Council reviewed progress of implementation of various recommendations made in the last meeting relating to issues of fishermen, Peninsular Region Industrial Development Corridor, Extension of High Speed Rail Corridor between Thiruvananthapuram up to Mangalore and Udupi, introduction of peninsular tourism trains in the zone and Amendments to the New Road Transport & Road Safety Bill.
Thereafter, the Council took up issues which relate to uniformity in allocation of funds for scholarships in proportion of population of SC/ST for all courses, revision of ceiling on profession tax by Government of India, prevention of communicable diseases, Naxalism, promotion of oilseeds and oil palm cultivation and development of Puducherry Airport. Out of the 22 items discussed, 16 were resolved in the meeting.
The deliberations of the Council were warm and cordial, in the true spirit of cooperative federalism and ended with the decision to host the next meeting in Karnataka. With this, meetings of the three Zonal Councils (Eastern, Western and Southern) are complete.
The meetings of the remaining two Zonal Councils (Central and Northern) are also expected to be held soon.
The five Zonal Councils were set up under the States’ Reorganization Act, 1956 to foster Inter-State cooperation and coordination among the States. The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on the matters of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities and inter-State transport etc.
They are regional fora of cooperative endeavour for States linked with each other geographically, economically and culturally. Being compact high level bodies, especially 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.
The meeting was attended by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, Andhra Pradesh Minister for Finance and Planning Y Ramakrishnudu, and others.
The meeting was also attended by Naini Jayasheelan, Secretary, Inter State Council Secretariat and senior officers from Central and State Governments.