The 22nd meeting of the Western Zonal Council was recently held at Mumbai, Maharashtra under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The Western Zonal Council consist of the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli
- The meeting was attended by Chief Ministers and ministers of these States and Union Territories administrators as well as senior officers of Union and State Governments.
- The Council reviewed issues related to internal security, coastal security, issuance of bio-metric identity cards to fishermen and card readers, modernization of police force, formulation of plans for countering terrorism etc.
- It also reviewed other important issues such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (Urban) Mission, providing shelters to the urban homeless, and surplus lands of Union Government for ‘Housing for All: 2022’.
- Issues related to checking pollution in Daman Ganga River and Kolak River due to discharge of untreated effluents from Vapi industrial area was also discused.
What are Zonal Councils?
- Zonal Councils were set up under the States Reorganization Act, 1956 (so it is not constitutional body) to foster Inter-State co-operation and co-ordination among the States.
- Currently, there are total five zonal councils viz. Northern, Western, Eastern, Central and Southern.
- The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in field of social and economic planning, linguistic minorities, border disputes or inter-State transport etc.
- Thus, Zonal Councils are regional fora of cooperative endeavor for States linked with each other economically, culturally and politically.
- They are specially meant for looking after the interests of respective Zones and focus attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors, while keeping national perspective in view.
- The north eastern states are not included in these five zonal Councils. Their special problems are looked after by North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972. It is also headed by Union Home Minister.
- The North Eastern Council includes Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Sikkim was included in the North Eastern Council in 2002 and excluded from the eastern council.