Union Minister for Home and Cooperation, Amit Shah on Saturday presided over the 25th meeting of the Western Zonal Council in Diu in which he emphasised the need for early investigation of rape and sexual offences against women and children and stringent punishment in a time bound manner.
The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Goa, Gujarat and the administrators of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu senior ministers of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Union Home Secretaries, Chief Secretaries of the member states of the Western Region, Secretaries, Central and State Ministries including the Inter-State Council Secretariat and senior officers of the departments.
This is the first time that the meeting of the Western Zonal Council has been organised in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.Amit shah mentioned the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take advantage of cooperative and competitive federalism while highlighting the importance of Zonal Councils established under the States Reorganization Act in 1956 for achieving all round development of the country.
The Union Home Minister said that meetings of various Zonal Councils are now being organised regularly by the Inter-State Council Secretariat of the Ministry of Home Affairs in collaboration with the State Governments. In the last 8 years under the guidance of PM Modi, the number of meetings of the Zonal Councils and its Standing Committees has increased by almost three times.
Appreciating the role of the Zonal Councils, the Union Home Minister said that the Zonal Councils take an integrated approach through discussion and exchange of views between the States on important issues of social and economic development.
A total of 36 issues were discussed in the 25th meeting and the 12th meeting of the Standing Committee in Panaji on January 28, 2022. Out of these, six subjects have been identified as nationally important subjects and these are being discussed and monitored regularly in the meetings of various Zonal Councils.
These are Improvement of banking services in rural areas, Monitoring of cases of rape and sexual offences against women and children, Implementation of fast track courts for such cases, Verification of identity of marine fishermen at sea, Large scale in seas Development of local contingency plans by coastal states for rescue operations, and, promotion of Make in India through preference in public procurement.
Out of the 30 topics discussed in the 25th Western Regional Council, 27 have been resolved and only three are left for further discussion. It shows the resolve and commitment of the Modi government towards the all-round development of the nation in the spirit of cooperative federalism.
Amit Shah stressed the need for early investigation of rape and sexual offences against women and children and stringent punishment in a time bound manner in these cases. Shah said that additional Director General of Police level officers, if possible, women officers should be entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring the investigation of all such cases in the Police Headquarters of each State.
He expressed satisfaction over the progress made on the issue of QR code based PVC Aadhaar cards to marine fishermen urged the coastal states to make efforts to ensure that 100 per cent sea-goers including migrants and seasonal Fishermen should have Aadhaar cards which can be easily verified.
Highlighting the need for an all-inclusive local emergency plan and its role in mass rescue operations, Shah advised identifying the existing infrastructure along the coast and integrating them with disaster mitigation plans.
Emphasizing on the importance of Direct Benefit Transfer to ensure that the benefits of social security schemes reach the target beneficiaries, he advised that the Direct Benefit Transfer Platform to the States should include schemes of all States, except the Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
The cash deposit facility through Common Service Centres be extended in a time bound manner and all banks should be linked to the platform. He advised that quarterly review should be done with a focus on this.