National

Cabinet decides to strengthen Northeast autonomous councils

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a Constitutional amendment to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeast.

The amendment would impact a population of about 1 crore tribals living in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to the Centre.

The Finance Commission would be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to the councils, the government said in an official statement. Till now, the autonomous councils have depended on grants from Central Ministries and the State governments for specific projects.

As per the proposed amendment, at least one third of the seats would be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.

The amendment also provides for transfer of additional 30 subjects including departments of Public Works, Forests, Public Health Engineering, Health and Family Welfare, Urban Development and Food and Civil Supply to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council in Assam.

“The cabinet approves landmark amendment to Article 280 and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The most important part of these amendments is that these will significantly improve the financial resources and powers of the autonomous districts councils in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura, fulfilling long-standing aspirations of the tribal population in these Northeastern States,” the government said.

A Bill in this regard is expected to be introduced in the upcoming session of Parliament, a Home Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “This will be a game changer, as it will substantially enhance the funds available to these local government institutions for undertaking development works in these tribal areas,” the official asserted.

The proposed amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grass-roots level.

The village councils would be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.

The State Election Commissions would hold elections to the autonomous councils, village and municipal councils in the areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura. There would be a provision for anti-defection too.

Meghalaya has for the time being opted out of the provision for elected village and municipal councils and one-third reservation for women.

The amendment proposes renaming the existing autonomous councils as Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC), Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council (DHATC), Garo Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (GHATC), Khasi Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (KHATC), Jaintia Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (JHATC) and Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous Territorial Council (TTAATC) as the present jurisdiction of these councils extend to more than one district.

There would also be an increase in the numbers of seats: in KAATC (from 30 to 50 seats), DHATC (30 to 40 seats), GHATC (30 to 42), KHATC (30 to 40) and JHATC (30 to 34).


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Printable version | Sep 11, 2021 7:50:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-decides-to-strengthen-northeast-autonomous-councils/article26071900.ece

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