Northern Zonal Council meeting was held in Chandigarh in September 2019. Host state was Haryana and thus it was the Vice-Chairman of the Council. It was the 29th Meeting of the Council.
What are the Zonal Councils?
Zonal Councils are advisory bodies consisting of the states and Union Territories which are grouped into five zones to foster cooperation among them.
Are they set up by an Act of Parliament?
Yes. They were set up under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.
What about the North eastern states?
The North Eastern states are not covered by any of the Zonal Councils and their special problems are addressed by another statutory body, the North Eastern Council, created by the North Eastern Council Act, 1971.Its powers are different.
Is every Union Territory a member of the regional ZC?
All but Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep which are not members of any of the Zonal Councils. However, they are presently special invitees to the Southern Zonal Council.
What is the organisational structure of the Zonal Councils?
It is as follows:
Chairman - The Union Home Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of each of these Councils.
Vice Chairman - The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
Members- Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
What are the Standing Committees?
Each Zonal Council has set up a Standing Committee consisting of Chief Secretaries of the member States of their respective Zonal Councils. These Standing Committees meet from time to time to resolve the issues or to do necessary ground work for further meetings of the Zonal Councils. Senior Officers of Niti Aayog and other Central Ministries are also associated.
How often do these Councils meet?
As per the States Re-organisation Act 1956, each Zonal Council shall meet at such time as the Chairman of the Council may appoint in this behalf. There is no specified frequency.
Who are the member States and UTs of the Northern Council?
It comprises Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
What issues can they take up and recommend policy action on?
Any issue that is of common interest to centre and states and also to states in the group. The zonal councils discuss a broad range of issues, including boundary disputes, security, infrastructure-related matters such as roads, transport, industries, water and power, besides matters pertaining to forests and environment, housing, education, food security, tourism and transport. In particular, a Zonal Council may discuss, and make recommendations with regard to:
They are an example of cooperative federalism where Centre and states come together to solve local and regional issues from a common perspective.