Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said that the eastern region needs more focus in speeding up its development as he chaired the 24th meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council (EZC) in Odisha. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, as the Vice-Chairperson, hosted the meeting. Bihar's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, West Bengal's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Jharkhand's Finance Minister Ramesh Oraon, and senior officers from the Central and state governments were present in the meet.
Amit Shah hoped that it would be a fruitful meeting where all the issues having Centre-state and inter-state effects would be resolved.
Stressing on fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision, Shah stated that after contemplation, collective decisions should be implemented to further strengthen the federal structure of the country. The Home Minister also expressed his satisfaction at the usefulness of the Zonal Council mechanism and informed that more than 70 per cent of issues have been resolved based on the recent meetings of the Zonal Councils and remaining issues are also under resolution.
While Naveen Patnaik raised the issue of an increase in royalty on coal, Mamata Banerjee addressed the issue of delay in payments of GST proceeds and devolution of funds. Nitish Kumar sought to form a National Silt Management Policy to look after floods in the Ganga river. Nitish Kumar also reiterated the demand to provide special category status for Bihar.
Several other issues discussed in the council include Phulbari Dam agreement of 1978 signed by Bihar and West Bengal on Upper Mahananda Water Scheme, the extension of Nuapada-Gunupur-Therubali Rail Link Project in northern Odisha, pension liability between Bihar and Jharkhand, use of state government land by coal companies, land transfer by CPSUs for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), and speedy investigation into cases of sexual offence/rape against women and children.
Prevention of cattle smuggling/illegal transportation of cattle to the Indo-Bangladesh border, lack of telecom and bank connectivity in Odisha, illegal cultivation and trading of hemp/cannabis in Odisha, and inadequate funding and delayed land-related issues of petroleum projects were also discussed in the meeting.
Out of the 48 issues discussed, 40 were resolved in the EZC meeting.