The idea of creation of Zonal Councils was mooted by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1956 when during the course of debate on the report of the States Re-organisation Commission, he suggested that the States proposed to be reorganised may be grouped into four or five zones having an Advisory Council 'to develop the habit of cooperative working” among these States. This suggestion was made by Pandit Nehru at a time when linguistic hostilities and bitterness as a result of re-organisation of the States on linguistic pattern were threatening the very fabric of our nation. As an antidote to this situation, it was suggested that a high level advisory forum should be set up to minimise the impact of these hostilities and to create healthy inter-State and Centre-State environment with a view to solving inter-State problems and fostering balanced socio economic development of the respective zones.
MEETINGS OF ZONAL COUNCILS
COMPOSITION OF ZONAL COUNCILS
In the light of the vision of Pandit Nehru, five Zonal Councils were set up vide Part-III of the States Re-organisation Act, 1956. The present composition of each of these Zonal Councils is as under:
- The Northern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh;
- The Central Zonal Council, comprising the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh;
- The Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal;
- The Western Zonal Council, comprising the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli;
- The Southern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
The North Eastern States i.e. (i) Assam (ii) Arunachal Pradesh (iii) Manipur (iv) Tripura (v) Mizoram (vi) Meghalaya and (vii) Nagaland are not included in the Zonal Councils and their special problems are looked after by the North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972. The State of Sikkim has also been included in the North Eastern Council vide North Eastern Council (Amendment) Act, 2002 notified on 23rd December 2002. Consequently, action for exclusion of Sikkim as member of Eastern Zonal Council has been initiated by Ministry of Home Affairs.
COMMITTIEES OF 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. Senior Officers of the Planning Commission and other Central Ministries are also associated with the meetings depending upon necessity. :
ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE OF 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 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.
ROLE AND OBJECTIVES OF THE ZONAL COUNCILS
The Zonal Councils provide an excellent forum where irritants between Centre and States and amongst States can be resolved through free and frank discussions and consultations. Being advisory bodies, there is full scope for free and frank exchange of views in their meetings. Though there are a large number of other fora like the National Development Council, Inter State Council, Governor’s/Chief Minister’s Conferences and other periodical high level conferences held under the auspices of the Union Government, the Zonal Councils are different, both in content and character. They are regional fora of cooperative endeavour for States linked with each other economically, politically and culturally. 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.
The main objectives of setting up of Zonal Councils are as under :
- 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
Each Zonal Council is an advisory body and may discuss any matter in which some or all of the States represented in that Council, or the Union and one or more of the States represented in that Council, have a common interest and 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-organization of the States under the States Reorganisation Act.
MEETINGS OF ZONAL COUNCILS
As per Section 17(1) of States Re-organisation Act, each Zonal Council shall meet at such time as the Chairman of the Council may appoint in this behalf. Since their inception in 1957, the Zonal Councils have met 106 times. The last meetings of the Zonal Councils were held as under:
MEETINGS OF ZONAL COUNCILS
|Sl.no||Name of the Council||Place of meeting||Date of Meeting|
|1.||Eastern Zonal Council||Ranchi||30.5.2005|
|2.||Western Zonal Council||Panaji||29.09.2006|
|3.||Northern Zonal Council||Shimla||25.10.2005|
|4.||Southern Zonal Council||Hyderabad||12.2.2007|
|5.||Central Zonal Council||Bhopal||24.5.2005|
Deliberations at Zonal Councils have led to important initiatives in regard to Internal Security, Coastal Security, Mega City Policing, Sharing of information on crime and criminals by the concerned states, Jail Reforms, Communal Harmony and the resolution of the socio-economic problems like trafficking in women and children, National Disaster Management and strengthening the preparedness for disaster management, implementation of Right to information Act, Implementation of National Employment Guarantee Bill, Coastal Secretary and Good Governance etc.
SECRETARIAT OF ZONAL COUNCILS
The Secretariat of the Zonal Councils has also been created by the statue itself. Section 19 of the States Re-organisation Act deals with the staff of Zonal Councils whereas Section 20 deals with office of the Council and its administrative expenses.
Office of Zonal Councils:
As per Section 20(1) of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 the office of Zonal Council for each zone shall be located at such place within the zone as may be determined by the Council. However, since 1963, a single Secretariat looking after the affairs of all Zonal Councils is functioning from New Delhi. The Secretariat is located 9/11, Jamnagar House, New Delhi and functioning under administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Zonal Councils Secretariat explores centre-State, inter-State and zonal issues which are to be deliberated by the Councils or the Standing Committees. The Secretariat also follows up on the recommendations of the Councils/Standing Committees, if necessary drawing the attention of the Chairman and other Central Ministers/Chief Ministers.
Organisational set up of Zonal Council Secretariat
According to Section 19 (1) of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, each Zonal Council shall have a secretarial staff consisting of a Secretary, a Joint Secretary and such other officers as the Chairman may consider necessary to appoint
The Chief Secretaries of the States represented in such Zonal Councils act as the Secretary of the respective Council by rotation, holding office for a period of one year at a time.
The Joint Secretary of Zonal Councils is as a Director Level officer from All India Services or Central Secretariat Services.
To assist the Joint Secretary, there are other 19 sanctioned posts in the Zonal Council Secretariat. The posts of Joint Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Chowkidar are temporary ones whereas other posts are permanent.The details in respect of incumbents of all the 20 posts are as given below:
BUDGET ALLOCATION FOR THE CURRENT FINANCIAL YEAR 2010-11
The Zonal Council Secretariat interacts with State Governments, Union Government and institutions like Planning Commission to explore issues of relevance for deliberations of Zonal Councils /Standing Committees. However, it is open to the enlightened citizens to identify such issues and bring them to the notice of the Zonal Council Secretariat. The Zonal Council Secretariat can be contacted at:
FOR THE CURRENT FINANCIAL YEAR 2010-11
FOR THE CURRENT FINANCIAL YEAR 2010-11 Object/Head description BE 2009-10 agreed
(Rs. in thousands)
Salaries 7300 Wages 15 Overtime allowance 50 Medical Treatment 100 Domestic Travel Expenses 200 Foreign Travel Expenses - Office Expenses 1000 Banking Transaction Tax - Information Technology (Office Expenses) 135 Total 8800
PROCEDURE FOLLOWED IN DECISION MAKING PROCESS, INCLUDING CHANNELS OF SUPERVISION & ACCOUNTABILITY AND NORMS SET BY ZONAL COUNCIL SECRETARIAT FOR DISCHARGE OF ITS FUNCTIONS
Functions relating to meetings of Zonals Councils:
Functions of Zonal Councils are performed as per States Re-organisation Act, 1956 and Rules of Procedure of all the five Zonal Councils, which may be seen at ANNEXURE I-VI. States Reorganisation Act, 1956 is a published statutory document. Rules of Procedures of Zonal Councils have also been printed and are made available to public on demand. (The updation of these rules is done by Ministry of Home Affairs when considered necessary).
All issues relating to convening of meetings of Zonal Councils are submitted to the Union Home Minister, through CS Division of Ministry of Home Affairs.
Administrative functions of Zonal Council Secretariat:
All administrative and financial functions are performed as per existing rules and instructions of the Government of India. Updation of these rules and orders is being done by concerned nodal Ministries when considered necessary. Further, guidelines provided under the Manual of Office Procedure are followed in dealing with day to day office work. While Deputy Secretary, Zonal Councils Secretariat being Head of Office and Branch Officer of Councils, Administration and Hindi Sections disposes of day to day work within his delegated powers, he takes the orders of Joint Secretary, Zonal Council Secretariat on important cases requiring approval of Head of Department.
STATEMENT OF CATEGOREIS OF DOCUMENTS THAT ARE UNDER CONTROL OF ZONAL COUNCIL SECRETARIAT
Agenda papers and proceedings of Zonal Councils and their Standing Committees are permanent records, which are got bound and kept in safe custody. Proceedings of Zonal Councils are also placed in the Parliament’s library. Service records are maintained as per relevant orders/instructions issued by Ministry of Home Affairs/Department of Personnel & Training.
Zonal Council Secretariat has been allotted budget allocation for the current financial year 2009-10 under Grant No.51 – Ministry of Home Affairs as per details given below:
Contact Information Telephone 011-23388883, 011-23389818 Fax 011-23388883 Address 9/11, Jamnagar House, Mansingh Road, New Delhi – 110 011.