Context: Soon, the 69th Plenary Session of North Eastern Council (NEC) is going to be held in Shillong, Meghalaya, under the Chairmanship of the Union Home Minister. 

More on the news: The Plenary is expected to deliberate on the progress of ongoing projects and plans for the period beyond March 2021 during the term of the Fifteenth Finance Commission.

About North Eastern Council (NEC):

  • It was established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971 as an apex level body for securing balanced and coordinated development and facilitating coordination with the States.
  • Composition: It consists of 8 states (7 NE states + Sikkim). The State of Sikkim has been included in the North Eastern Council with the North Eastern Council (Amendment) Act, 2002.
  • Mandate: 
    • Subsequent to the Amendment of 2002, NEC has been mandated to function as a regional planning body for the North Eastern Area, while formulating a regional plan for this area.
    • The council shall give priority to the schemes and projects benefiting two or more states provided that in the case of Sikkim, the Council shall formulate specific projects and schemes for that State.
  • Chairman: The Union Cabinet (in 2018) approved the proposal of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) for the nomination of the Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC). 
    • The Cabinet also approved that the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER would serve as Vice Chairman of the Council.
  • Members: Governors and Chief Ministers of the eight North-Eastern states. 

Zonal Council:

  • Idea: The idea of creation of Zonal Councils was mooted by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1956.
  • Composition: (Image source: Inter State council secretariat)

Five Zonal Councils (Northern, Central, Eastern, Western and Southern) were set up vide Part-III of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. 

  • The North Eastern States: Are not included in the Zonal Councils and their special problems are looked after by the North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972. 
  • Organisational structure:
    • Chairman - The Union Home Minister.
    • 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.
  • Role: The Zonal Councils, being advisory bodies provide an excellent forum where irritants between Centre and States and amongst States can be resolved through free and frank discussions and consultations.
  • Objective:
    • Bringing out national integration
    • Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies
    • Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences
    • Establishing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and speedy execution of development projects.

Source: Wikipedia