* Financial resources augmented
* Existing autonomous councils renamed
* Reservations of one-third seats for women
* SECs to hold Council polls in Assam, Mizoram & Tripura
NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved a landmark amendment to Article 280 and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The most important part of these amendments is that these will significantly improve the financial resources and administrative powers of the Autonomous District Councils of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura, fulfilling long-standing aspirations of the tribal population in these North Eastern States.
The Finance Commission constituted by Union Government will now be specifically mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to the 10 Autonomous District Councils as well as the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas. It will substantially enhance the funds available to these local government institutions for undertaking development work in these tribal areas. The amendment also provides for constitution of State Finance Commissions in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
The amendment also provides for transfer of additional 30 subjects including Public Works Department, Forests, Public Health Engineering, Health & Family Welfare, Urban Development and Food & Civil Supply to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC) and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council (DHATC) in Assam, thus greatly strengthening the Autonomous Councils and giving them a major role in the day-to-day governance and developmental activities.
The proposed amendments provide for the elected village and municipal councils ensuring democracy at the grassroots level. The village councils will be empowered for preparation of plans for economic development and social justice including those in relation to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
There will be reservations of at least one-third of seats for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura and at least two of the nominated members in all autonomous councils in the North East Sixth Schedule areas resulting in the empowerment of women.
There will be State Election Commissions (SECs) for holding elections to the Autonomous Councils, village and municipal councils in the areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
For the time being, Meghalaya has been kept out of the purview of the provision for elected village and municipal councils and one-third reservations for women.
The amendments will fulfill the commitments made under the tripartite Memorandum of Settlements signed by Government of India, State Governments of Assam and Meghalaya, United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), Dima Halam Daogah (DHD) and Achik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC).
The amendments propose to rename 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 districts.
There will also be increase in seats in KAATC, DHATC, GHATC, KHATC and JHATC. (PIB)