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Zonal Councils

  • 13 Jun 2022
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: Zonal Councils, its structure, objectives and functions

For Mains: Cooperative Federalism, States Reorganisation Act of 1956

Why in News?

Recently, the Minister of Home Affairs chaired the 25th meeting of the Western Zonal Council at Diu.

What are the Issues discussed in the Meeting?

  • Improvement of banking services in rural areas.
  • Monitoring of rape and sexual offences cases against women and children, implementation of Fast Track Courts for such cases.
  • 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 encouragement of Make in India initiative through Preference in Public Procurement.
  • Various issues related to boundary, security, infrastructure transport, and industries pertaining to western States.

What are Zonal Councils?

  • About:
    • Zonal Councils are the statutory (and not the constitutional) bodies.
    • They are established by an Act of the Parliament, that is, States Reorganisation Act of 1956.
    • The act divided the country into five zones- Northern, Central, Eastern, Western and Southern and provided a zonal council for each zone.
    • While forming these zones, several factors have been taken into account which include:
      • 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.
    • In addition to the above mentioned Zonal Councils, a North-Eastern Council was created by a separate Act of Parliament, the North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.
      • Its members include Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim.
      • These are advisory bodies that make recommendations with regard to any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning between the Centre and States border disputes, linguistic minorities, inter-State transport or matters connected with the reorganisation of States.
  • Composition:
    • The Northern Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh,
    • The Central Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh,
    • The Eastern Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal,
    • The Western Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli,
    • The Southern Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, 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 included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one 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 included in the zone.
    • Advisers: One person nominated by the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone.
  • Objectives:
    • Bringing out national integration.
    • Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies.
    • Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences.
    • Establishing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and speedy execution of development projects.
  • 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 transport,
    • Any matter connected with or arising out of, the reorganization of the States under the States Reorganisation Act.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question

Q. Which of the following bodies does not/do not find mention in the Constitution? (2013)

  1. National Development Council
  2. Planning Commission
  3. Zonal Councils

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (d)

Source: PIB

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