Amit Shah to chair EZC meeting in Patna on Sunday; Mamata unlikely to attend
It would be the first time when Anit Shah and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar would be interacting face to face ever since the latter walked out of the NDA to form the Mahagadbandhan government in August 2022
Union home minister Amit Shah will chair the 26th meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council (EZC) in Bihar’s capital Patna on Sunday.
The Eastern Zonal Council comprises the states of Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand.
“The EZC will be attended by the chief ministers of the member states along with two senior ministers from each state. The chief secretaries and other senior officers of the state governments and senior officers of the central government will also participate in the meeting,” the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement. The meeting is being organised by the Inter-State Council Secretariat under the MHA in collaboration with the government of Bihar.
The meeting assumes significance as it would be the first time when Shah and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar would be interacting face to face ever since Kumar walked out of the NDA to form the Mahagadbandhan government in August 2022.
Kumar did not attend the last EZC meeting held in Kolkata on December 17, 2022, citing ill health and sent deputy chief minister Tejasvi Prasad Yadav to represent the state.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to skip the EZC’s meeting, official familiar with the matter said on Saturday, adding that West Bengal finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharjee will be representing his state at the EZC meeting in place of the chief minister.
The Bihar government is likely to rake up the issue of special status at the meeting, besides other demands.
Water resource minister Sanjay Kumar Jha said that the demands of special status for Bihar’s growth and Kosi High Dam to save the state from flooding would be presented by the state government at the meeting.
Officials said that in the meeting issues like minimum price for a number of minor millets, creation of infrastructure, water sharing are expected to be discussed. The state is also likely to raise demands of caste-based census in the country.
A high-level meeting to oversee the preparations was held under the chairmanship of additional chief secretary (home) S Siddharth wherein many senior officials outlined the issues for discussion. The ACS directed the departments concerned to feed updates on the status of various issues likely to come up in the meeting.
During the earlier zonal council meetings, many important decisions were taken such as the minimum support price of Kodo, Kutki and other minor millet crops at par with Ragi, the release of the National Framework for Sediment Management in 2022 by the Ministry of Jal Shakti under the Comprehensive Silt Management Policy, the decision by the State Level Technical Committee to decide the scale of finance for lac cultivation and to include lac cultivation in Kisan Credit Card from 2022-23.
The Zonal Councils discuss a wide range of issues including mining, central financial assistance on certain items, creation of infrastructure, land acquisition and land transfer, water sharing, implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme (DBT), state reorganisation and other matters of common interest at the regional level.
Over the last nine years, since 2014, a total of 55 meetings of various Zonal Councils have been held including 29 meetings of Standing Committees and 26 meetings of Zonal Councils.
The Zonal Councils play an advisory role, but over the years these councils have emerged as an important mechanism for promoting mutual understanding and cooperation in various fields.