A Constitutional amendment Bill was approved by the cabinet to provide more powers to the 10 autonomous territorial councils of the Northeast. They are set to get more financial and executive powers. The amendments when approved by the Parliament will benefit 1 crore tribal people living in Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura.
The Proposed Amendments:
- As per the approved amendments, the devolution of financial resources to the councils will be recommended by the Finance Commission. Generally, the councils get grants from central and state Ministries depending on the project.
- Another proposal mandates at least one third of the seats in village and municipal councils of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura to be reserved for women. The three states are chosen as they are part of the sixth schedule of the. Constitution.
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- 30 more subjects will be transferred to the autonomous councils. They include including the departments of Public Works, department of Forests, department of Public Health Engineering, department of Health and Family Welfare, department of Urban Development and department of Food and Civil Supply to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council, and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council in Assam.
- The amendment calls for elected village and municipal councils for which the state Election Commission will hold elections.
Which Article is Going To Be Amended?
- Article 380 of the Constitution – To make it mandatory for Finance Commission to recommend the amount of financial resources to be devolved to the councils.
- Sixth Schedule of the constitution – For providing more executive powers in the form of transfer of subjects. This schedule consists of special provisions related to the administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura.
The proposed amendment to provide financial autonomy to the councils enables them to utilise the funds for their development needs decided by the members themselves. Also, the transfer of more subjects under the jurisdiction of the councils will truly enable democracy at the grass-roots level.
It is to be ponder whether the same can be provided for panchayats and municipal councils across the country. Lack of control on finances and decision making on key issues are hampering the progress of villages and municipal areas in the country. The political leadership should shed their myopic view of losing their power if panchayats and municipal councils are given more powers. It is high time India gave autonomy to its third-tier of government for a real change.