Amit Shah to chair Western Zonal Council meeting

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah will chair a meeting of the Western Zonal Council on Monday in Gandhinagar where a host of issues like  speedy investigation in cases of sexual offence and rape and matters related to infrastructure and environment will come up for discussion, officials said.

The Western Zonal Council comprises Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and the Union Territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

The meeting will be attended by chief ministers, ministers, chief secretaries, principal secretaries and senior officers of member states and central government, officials said.

The meeting is likely to discuss issues like speedy investigation in cases of sexual offence and rape against women and children, implementation of the scheme of Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) for expeditious disposal of rape and POCSO Act cases.

Facilitation of banks and India Post Payment Bank branches within 5 km in each village, addressing malnutrition among children through Poshan Abhiyan, reducing drop-out rate of school children, participation of government hospitals in Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana and issues of general interest at national level will also be discussed at the meeting.
The meeting will discuss issues of common interests in areas of road connectivity, power, industries and other matters, they said.
According to the established procedure and practice, the meeting is preceded by a standing committee of the council where the agenda items to be placed before the council are scrutinised and prioritised.
The Narendra Modi government has been regularly holding meetings of zonal councils as part of its overall strategy to strengthen and promote cooperative and competitive federalism in the country, officials said.
The regional councils provide a forum for discussion in a structured manner on issues affecting one or more states or issues between the Centre and the states.
In the last nine years, the number of meetings of the zonal councils and its standing committees have increased by three times, they said.
Regional councils help in developing a coordinated approach through discussion and exchange of views between states on important issues of social and economic development.
The zonal councils take up issues involving the Centre and states and one or many states falling in the zone, providing a forum for resolving disputes and irritants between the Centre and the states and among many states in the zone.
The meetings of the zonal councils are used by the states and Union territories (UTs) to share their best practices.
The councils also discuss a broad range of issues which include boundary-related disputes, security, infrastructure matters like road, transport, industries, sharing of water, and power, matters pertaining to forests and environment, housing, education, food security, tourism and transport, among others.
There are five zonal councils in the country which were set up in 1957 under Section 15-22 of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.
The Union home minister is the chairman of each of these five zonal councils and chief ministers of the host state (to be chosen by rotation every year) is the vice-chairman.
Two more ministers from each state are nominated as members by the governor.