Inter-State Council meeting on Saturday after 10 years

New Delhi/Agartala, July 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state Chief Ministers will discuss at the Inter-State Council (ISC) meeting, happening after a hiatus of 10 years, here on Saturday the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission on harmonising centre-state relations.

The meeting, being held after a decade since 2006, will also debate on the use of Aadhaar as an identifier and use of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for subsidies.

However, a top official in Agartala said the council meet has been convened after a long gap of 10 years “following presure” of many states.

“Prime Minister will chair the 11th meeting of the Inter-State Council here tomorrow (Saturday). The Union ministers and chief ministers of all states are expected to attend the meeting.

They will also discuss matters related to improving quality of school education and internal security,” said an official in the capital.

“The ISC meeting would be held tomorrow (Saturday) following the pressure of many states,” a top Tripura government official told IANS in Agartala.

The five-member Punchhi Commission headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi submitted its report to the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram in April 2010.

Set up in April 2007, it had taken a fresh look at the relative roles and responsibilities of the various levels of government and their inter-relations.

A comprehensive assessment of the Centre-state relations had been undertaken earlier by the Sarkaria Commission, the first commission on the issue, in the mid-1980s.

“Improving quality of school education with focus on improving learning outcomes, incentivising better performance would also be discussed in the meeting,” said the official in New Delhi.

The official said that Saturday’s meeting would discuss internal security of the country with focus on intelligence sharing and coordination for combating terrorism, Maoism, insurgency and police reforms and police modernisation.

The last and tenth meeting of the ISC was held on December 9, 2006, in New Delhi.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who is the lone member from the northeastern region in the Standing Committee of the ISC headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, left Agartala for New Delhi to attend the meeting.

“Sarkar in the ISC meeting would underline strengthening of states’ power in some financial and security aspects and close and more better centre-state relations,” the official at Agartala said.

Among other issues, the Punchhi commission had recommended that Inter-State Council need to be “substantially strengthened”. The commission further said the ISC must meet at least thrice in a year on an agenda evolved after proper consultation with states.

“The ISC must be empowered to follow up the implementation of its decisions for which appropriate statutory provisions should be made. The Government will be well advised to evolve an appropriate scheme to utilize the full potential of ISC in harmonizing centre-state relations,” it had said.

Among other issues, it had said that the ISC should have “functional independence” with a professional secretariat constituted with experts on relevant fields of knowledge and supported by central and state officials.

–IANS

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