Union Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Cooperation, Amit Shah will chair today the 29th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council comprising of the States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, and Union Territories of Puducherry, Lakshadweep and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands here in Tirupati.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed the need to leverage cooperative and competitive federalism to achieve all-around growth. Zonal Councils provide the platform to foster such collaboration through a structured mechanism for dialogue and discussion on a continuous basis on the issues affecting two or more states or the Centre and States, in the spirit that strong States make a strong nation. According to a press statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Shah has given impetus to this vision of cooperative federalism to empower States and promote a better understanding between the Centre and States in the policy framework. He has emphasised on using the platform of the Zonal Council for dispute resolving and promoting cooperative federalism.
The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh is the Vice Chairman and host. Other Chief Ministers from the States in the Zone along with two Ministers each are the Members. Chief Secretaries and senior officers from the State Governments and the Central Government will also attend the meeting. The Zonal Councils take up issues involving Centre and States and one or many States falling in the Zone. The Zonal Councils, thus, provide a forum for resolving disputes and irritants between Centre and States and among many States in the Zone. The Zonal Councils discuss broad range of issues which include boundary related disputes, security, infrastructure related matters like road, transport, industries, water, and power etc., matters pertaining to forests & environment, housing, education, food security, tourism and transport etc.
Five Zonal Councils were set up in the year 1957 under Section 15-22 of the States Re-organization Act, 1956. 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.