Government introduces Bill on northeast

The government quietly introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeastern region. The amendment will impact one crore tribal people in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

The Bill is one of the legislations announced in the past month in the wake of protests in the region following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha. A senior government official said The Constitution (125th Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced amid din on February 6 in Rajya Sabha.

“A call was taken to introduce in the Rajya Sabha so that the legislation remains alive even after the House has adjourned sine die. Introducing it in the Lok Saha would have meant that the Bill’s life is co-terminus with that of the term of the Lok Sabha, which will see the last sitting of the current House on February 13,” said the official.

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

The village councils will 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 Finance Commission will be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them, an official statement said.

The Autonomous Councils now depend on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects. At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after the amendment is approved.

The official said the fate of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, was not known. It was passed by the Lok Sabha but has to be passed by the Rajya Sabha in the current session to become a law.

Assam and other States like Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram have been protesting against the Bill that would make it possible to give Indian citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the 1985 Assam Accord.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 6:18:03 AM |

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