Zonal Councils: Structure and Functions

Zonal Councils

After discussing the various aspects of Centre-State relations in the previous articles, today we’d be discussing yet another important aspect of Centre-State relations, Zonal Councils.

Zonal Councils
Image by- iPleaders

Previous articles on Centre-State relations-

Financial Relations between Centre and State

Legislative Relations between Centre and State

Administrative Relationship between Centre and State

Sarkaria Commission: Overview and Recommendations

Rajamannar Committee: Overview and Recommendations

Zonal Councils


The Zonal Councils are established by the States Reorganization Act of 1956. The States Reorganization Act divided the country into 5 zones (Northern, Central, Eastern, Western and Southern) and made provisions for setting up a Zonal Council in each of the 5 zones. So, the Zonal Councils are statutory bodies, as they’re established by an act of Parliament

Zonal Councils
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The States Reorganization Act divided the Country into 5 zones, considering the following factors-

  • Natural divisions of the Country
  • river systems and means of communication
  • cultural and linguistic affinity
  • requirements of economic development, security and law and order

The Zonal Council consists of-

  • Home Minister of the Central Government
  • Chief Ministers of all the States in the zone
  • Two other ministers from each state in the zone
  • The administrator of each Union Territory in the zone

Apart from these members, the Zonal Council can also include the following members as advisors. The advisors, however, have no right to vote in the meetings.

  • A person nominated by the Planning Commission
  • Chief Secretary of the Government of each State in the Zone
  • Development Commissioner of each State in the Zone

Designation of members of the Zonal Council-

  • Home Minister of the Central Government is the common chairman of the five Zonal Councils.
  • Each Chief Minister acts as vice-chairman of the Council by rotation, holding office for a period of one year at a time.
Zonal Councils
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The objectives of the Zonal Council

The main objective of the Zonal Council is to promote cooperation and coordination between States, Union Territories and Centre. They also discuss and make recommendations in matters like social and economic planning, border disputes, inter-state transport, linguistic minorities, etc. However, the Zonal Councils are just deliberative and advisory bodies.

The objectives of the Zonal Councils can be summarized as follows-

  • They seek to achieve an emotional integration of the country.
  • They seek to remove the after-effects of separation in some cases so that the process of reorganization, integration and economic advancement can be synchronized.
  • They help in arresting the growth of acute State-consciousness, regionalism, lingiusm and particularistic trends.
  • To achieve cooperation between the States in the speedy and successful execution of major developmental plans.
  • To achieve the cooperation between the Centre and the States in social and economic matters and in exchanging ideas and experience in order to evolve uniform policies.
  • To achieve a political equilibrium between different regions of the Country.
The North-Eastern Council
Image by- North Eastern Council

In addition to the Zonal Councils, another statutory body was created by an act of Parliament. The North-Eastern Council was created by the North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.

The North-eastern Council includes States in the North-Eastern region of the Country. The members are- Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

The functions of the North-Eastern Council are similar to the Zonal Council. however, there are some additions in its function, these are-

  • To formulate a unified and coordinated regional plan covering the matters of common importance.
  • Periodically reviewing the measures taken by member-states for maintenance of security and public order in the region.
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