Western Zonal Council Meeting: HM Amit Shah chaired

Western Zonal Council

Western Zonal Council Meeting: Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah chaired the 26th Meeting of the Western Zonal Council at Gandhinagar, Gujarat today. On this occasion, Shri Amit Shah inaugurated an e-Resource web portal https://iscs-eresource.gov.in of Inter State Council Secretariat, MHA. This portal will facilitate functioning of Zonal Councils.

The meeting was attended by Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Administrator of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra and other distinguished Ministers, Chief Secretaries from the States in the Western Zone, Union Home Secretary, Secretary, Inter-State Council Secretariat and other senior officers from the States and Central Ministries and Departments.

In his remarks, the Union Home Minister said thatafter the recent success of the country\’s Chandrayaan mission, the whole world is praising the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). He said that in the last 9 years,with his foresight, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has not only given a new direction to India’s space sector, but has made a time-bound program and framework to take India to the forefront of the world in the field of space by year 2030. On Home Minister’s call, all members of the Western Zonal Council applauded the entire team of scientists behind Chandrayaan Mission and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for the changes he has brought in India’s space sector in the last 9 years.

The 26th Western Zonal Council meeting held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat discussed a total of 17 issues, out of which 09 issues were resolvedand remaining issues, including issues of national interest, were kept for monitoring after in-depth discussion. Some crucial issues concerning the member States in particular and the country as a whole were ‘Transfer of land related issues, Issues related to water supply, operationalization of Auctioned Mines, cash deposit facility at Common Service Centre, Coverage of villages by Bank Branches/Postal Banking facilities, Speedy investigation of cases of sexual offence/rape against women and children, Implementation of the Scheme of Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) for expeditious disposal of rape and POCSO Act cases,Utilisation of Bharat Net infrastructure by States for providing broadband connectivityto households in villages, Adoption of Telecom RoW Rules by States for facilitating roll out of 5G, Implementation of Motor Vehicles (Registration and Functions of Vehicle Scrapping Facility Amendment) Rules, 2022, Strengthening of Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), etc.

Union Home Minister asked Zonal Council member states to work sensitively on three issues of national importance – POSHAN Abhiyaan, reducing the dropout rate of school children and taking benefits of Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana to every poor. Shri Shah said that co-operatives are the only way to connect 60 crore people of the country with the economy so that they can contribute in the progress of the country. He said that by creating 2 lakh new Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) and making existing PACS viable, the country’s cooperative sector will witness a huge change.

Shri Amit Shah said that between 2014 and 2023, a total of 23 meetings of the Zonal Councils and 29 meetings of its Standing Committees were held, whereas from 2004 to 2014, there were 11 meetings of the Zonal Council and 14 meetings of the Standing Committees. He said that during the meetings of Zonal Councils held between 2014 and 2023, 1143 issues were resolved, which is more than 90 percent of the total issues, which shows the importance of Zonal Councils. Shri Shah, while appreciating the role of the Zonal Councils, mentioned that though the Zonal Councils are advisory in character, but over the years, they have proved to be a significant factor in promoting healthy bond of mutual understanding and cooperation in various spheres.

Union Home Minister said that the Zonal Councils provide the opportunity for personal inter-action at the highest level amongst the members and serve as a useful forum for resolving issues of difficult and complex nature in an atmosphere of amity and goodwill. Through discussion and exchange of views, the Zonal Councils help in developing a coordinated approach among the States on important issues of socio and economic development. The Zonal Councils also discuss and make recommendations on issues of common interest of the States. He said that the Zonal Council is an important platform for cooperative federalism for resolving the issues between the Centre and the States and between the States with Whole of Government Approach, which believes in consensual solution in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. Good practices adopted by the member states/UTs were also shared in the meeting.

Shri Amit Shah highlighted the importance of Zonal Councils that were established under the State’s Reorganisation Act in 1956, and, informed the participants that the objective of Government is to strengthen the institution of the Zonal Councils as well as the Inter State Council to promote and maintain a good federal atmosphere of cooperation among the States and between the Centre and the States as well. He mentioned that now the meetings of different Zonal Councils are convened regularly and this could happen only with the proactive initiative of the Inter State Council Secretariat under the Ministry of Home Affairs and the cooperation of all State Governments/UTs as well as the Central Ministries and Departments.

The Union Home Minister referred to the vision of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to leverage cooperative and competitive federalism to achieve all round growth of the country and mentioned that the Zonal Councils provide the platform to foster such collaboration through a structured mechanism for dialogue and discussion on continuous basis on the issues affecting one or more States or the Centre and the States, in the spirit that strong States make a strong nation.

Shri Amit Shah said that the Western Zone is an important zone of the country and with a contribution of 25% to the country\’s GDP, this region is the hub of finance, IT, diamond, petroleum, automobile and defence. He said that the member states of the Western Zonal Council share long coastlines where there are highly sensitive institutions and industries and there is a need for sustained efforts towards ensuring tight security.

The Home Minister said that after the passage of the 3 new Bills – Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, BharatiyaNagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 and BharatiyaSakshya Bill, 2023 – recently introduced by the Modi government in the Parliament, no case can continue for more than 2 years, which will result in elimination of 70% negative energy. He asked all the states to work towards creating the necessary basic infrastructure and capacity for the implementation of these laws.

The portal launched by the Union Home Minister, today, is a repository of the important documents, that is, minutes and agenda of the various meetings of the Inter-State Council & its Standing Committee since its constitution on 28.05.1990 and Zonal Councils & their Standing Committee since their inception i.e. from 1957. This digital resource can be used by the Central Ministries/Department as well as State Governments/UTs for policy intervention.