Union Home Minister Amit Shah presided over the 30th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council held at Jaipur, Rajasthan. The Council deliberated on the issues of internal security, road, transport, industries, water, power, cyber-crime and other subjects of common interests for eight northern States and Union Territories.
- The idea of creation of Zonal Councils was mooted by the first PM Nehru in 1956.
- This was suggested during the course of debate on the report of the States Re-organisation Commission.
- It was suggested that a high-level advisory forum should be set up —
- to minimise the impact of linguistic hostilities prevailed at that time;
- to create healthy inter-State and Centre-State environment.
- In the light of the idea promoted by the then PM Nehru, five Zonal Councils were set up under the States Re-organisation Act, 1956. Zonal Councils are the statutory and not the constitutional bodies.
- The five councils are — The Northern Zonal Council; The Central Zonal Council; The Eastern Zonal Council; The Western Zonal Council; The Southern Zonal Council.
- The North Eastern States are not included in the Zonal Councils. Their special problems are looked after by the North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972.
The main objectives of setting up of Zonal Councils are as under:
- Bringing out national integration;
- Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguistic 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.
Organisational structure of the zonal councils –
- 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
- Union Ministers are also invited to participate in the meetings of Zonal Councils depending upon necessity.
- Each Zonal Council is an advisory body and may discuss any matter in which some or all of the States represented in that Council have a common interest.
- It may advise the Central Government and the Government of each State concerned as to the action to be taken on any such matter.
- In particular, a Zonal Council may discuss, and make recommendations with regard to:
- 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 re-organisation of the States under the States Reorganisation Act.