At the Central Zonal Council meeting under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the state governments on Monday asked the Centre to “share the maximum burden” in controlling naxalism in the affected areas.
The governments proposed that the Centre and the state share the burden in the ratio of 90:10, to which Singh promised it will be considered by the Home Ministry.
Suggestions and requests for “cooperation” flew across in Lucknow as the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand — all represented by their respective Chief Ministers — and the Central government held talks after “a gap of four years”.
The four states were unanimous also on the demand for relaxation in the norms under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and amendment in the Right to Education Act, 2009.
Giving details of the issues raised in the meeting, Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan said: “Fund sharing for controlling left-wing extremism, relaxing norms under Forest conservation Act, bringing amendment in policy of the government not to fail any student till Class 8, funds for groundwater recharging, implementing National Food Security Act by April — these were some of the issues commonly raised in the meeting today.”
Ranjan further informed that Chhattisgarh raised the issue of low density of road in the state and about the need to add more National Highways, the demand which both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh associated themselves with while pointing out their respective population density.
UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, host of the meeting, used the opportunity to place before the Home Minister a proposal of Rs 6,500 crore for mordernisation of police force in the state.
Shifting focus, both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand raised the issue of their asset-sharing and dispute over ownership of dams and canals. The ensuing discussion saw the Chief Secretaries of the two states signing a Memorandum of Understanding for completion of Jamrani dam project in the next 15 days.
Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat, whose flight delayed his arrival at the meeting by nearly one-and-a-half hour, later told media persons that he is hopeful that “UP will play the role of a big brother in resolving issues of asset-sharing with Uttarakhand.”
The Home Minister, during his turn, asked the states to cooperate in ensuring that trains are not stopped following any protest. Railways also asked the states to close traffic movement on all those railway crossings where Rail over Bridges have been constructed.
Secretary of Zonal Councils, H K Das spoke to The Indian Express about the “idea” behind such meetings.
“This meeting is based on the idea of co-operative federalism floated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A similar meeting had taken place four years ago during the previous (UPA’s) regime. It was realised that while planning was done and policies were formed, implementation could not take place due to lack of coordination. These meetings would bridge that gap,” Das said, as he spoke of the recently-organised Eastern Zonal Council meeting held in Patna, while informing that similar meetings of three remaining Zonal Councils would be organised in next few months.