The 30th Southern Zonal Council meeting was presided over by Shri Amit Shah, the Union Minister for Home and Cooperation.
- The Zonal Councils were conceptualized by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1956, during discussions on the report of the States Re-organisation Commission. These Councils aimed to foster cooperative working among the reorganized States and mitigate linguistic hostilities and bitterness.
- With the objective of creating a healthy inter-State and Centre-State environment, a high-level advisory forum was proposed that intends to address inter-State problems and promote balanced socio-economic development within respective zones.
- In accordance with Pandit Nehru’s vision, five Zonal Councils were established, each comprising specific states and union territories.
- The Zonal Councils consist of the Northern Zonal Council, Central Zonal Council, Eastern Zonal Council, Western Zonal Council, and Southern Zonal Council.
- The North Eastern States have a separate body called the North Eastern Council, which addresses their special problems. Additionally, the North Eastern Council includes the state of Sikkim as well.
- Each Zonal Council has a Standing Committee composed of Chief Secretaries from member states. These committees meet periodically to resolve issues and prepare for subsequent Zonal Council meetings.
- The organizational structure of the Zonal Councils involves the Union Home Minister serving as the Chairman. The Chief Ministers of the states within each zone act as Vice-Chairmen on a rotational basis. The members include the Chief Minister and two other nominated Ministers from each state, along with two members from the included Union Territories.
- The Zonal Councils play a crucial role in facilitating discussions and consultations between the Center and the States, as well as among the States themselves. These advisory bodies offer a platform for free and frank exchange of views.
- The primary objectives of establishing the Zonal Councils include promoting national integration, curbing acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism, and particularistic tendencies. They aim to foster cooperation and the exchange of ideas and experiences between the Center and the States. Moreover, the Zonal Councils aim to create a cooperative atmosphere among the States for the successful implementation of development projects.
- As advisory bodies, each Zonal Council can discuss and provide recommendations on matters of common interest related to economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities, inter-State transport, and issues arising from the States Reorganisation Act.
These Zonal Councils serve as important regional platforms, encouraging cooperative efforts among economically, politically, and culturally linked States. By addressing specific regional factors while considering the national context, the Zonal Councils contribute to the overall development and harmonious functioning of the country.