Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the 23rd meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council meeting on Monday, October 1, 2018. The meeting was attended by the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of Jharkhand Raghubar Das, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi and ministers from the states of the council, including Odisha, as well as senior officers from central and state government.
Emphasising that it has been the endeavor of the government to strengthen the institution of the zonal councils as well as the inter-state council, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in his opening speech, said that it is of utmost importance to promote and maintain a good federal atmosphere of cooperation among the states and between the Centre and the states as well.
Singh added that in the last four years, 13 Zonal Council meetings and 15 Standing Committee meetings have been held. In these meetings, about 700 issues had been discussed, out of which about 450 were resolved.
The council reviewed the progress of many unresolved issues from the last meeting including that of Phulbari Dam under the Agreement of 1978 between Bihar and West Bengal release of central share under post-matric and pre-matric scholarship schemes for SCs/STs/OBCs, scheme for modernisation of state police forces, allocation of land for the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research at Kolkata and Hajipur, maternal and child nutrition through Integrated Food Fortification Project among others.
15 new issues were taken up in the council meeting, including development of allocated coal mines, implementation of various National Programs of Health, establishment of shelters for urban homeless under DAY-National Urban Livelihood Mission, expeditious clearance for right of way for laying optical fibre cable, teachers education, land acquisition for development of 11 airports in these States, implementation of provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, among others.
Prior to this meeting, the Standing Committee of the Council met on December 21, 2017 in which seven issues, including curbing of drug trafficking in these states, issues relating to fisheries, productivity of livestock and poultry, model flood code for chronically flood-affected areas, communal situation in these states, installation of Doppler radar at Ranchi, implementation of recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, rationalisation of funding pattern under centrally sponsored schemes.
The five zonal councils (Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern, and Central) were set up under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 to foster inter-state co-operation and coordination among the states.
They are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-state transport. The next meeting is scheduled to be held in Bihar 2019.