Patna: The Odisha chief secretary, Asit Kumar Tripathy, and development commissioner, Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, raised the issue of setting up of electric locomotive periodic overhauling workshop at Kalahandi in the 11th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eastern Zonal Council, held here on Wednesday.

Both Tripathy and Mohapatra also put forth the Odisha government’s views regarding revision of coal royalty, allotment of coal blocks, and MMDR Act regarding granting mining leases in the meeting.

The chief secretary joined the meeting through video conferencing from Bhubaneswar while Mohapatra personally attended the Council meeting.

The Committee meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of Bihar chief secretary Deepak Kumar, reviewed the progress of implementation of the recommendations made at the last meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council relating to issues of water sharing at Phulbari dam under agreement signed by the States of Bihar and West Bengal on Upper Mahananda Water Scheme; new Railway line projects of Tarkeshwar-Bishnupur and Bhadutola Jhargram; and, land acquisition for development of Bagdogra airport. 

The issues related to setting up of electric locomotive periodic overhauling workshop at Kalahandi, train between Bhubaneswar and Nayagarh, implementation of prohibition policy in Bihar, determination of pension liability between Bihar and Jharkhand, issues related to coal blocks, royalty on washed coal,  MMDR Act regarding grant of mining lease, adoption of model laws relating to marketing and contract farming of agricultural produce and livestock,  review of critical central sector health schemes, devolution of powers by the States to Panchayati Raj Institutions, speedy investigation of cases of sexual offence/rape against women and children, implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mission, impediments in development of coal mines, use of UIDAI database for verifying the antecedents of marine fishermen in high seas, land acquisition and forest clearance for doubling/extension/new line projects of railways in the States of Eastern Zone. Out of the 43 items discussed today, 36 items (81.39%) were resolved in the meeting itself or a mutually agreeable timeline was arrived at. 

Union home ministry’s Inter-State-Council Secretariat (ISCS) secretary Sanjeev Gupta made a detailed presentation to flag key issues in 43 agenda items that were deliberated upon. He also pointed out that the union home ministrer had stressed in the recent meetings of Zonal Councils about (i) coverage of all villages which have hitherto remained without any banking facilities within 5 km radial distance by a banking institution; (ii) Enhancement of DBT Portal to include scheme/village-wise details by collecting real time information from respective portals of beneficiary-oriented schemes to give village level DBT fund transfer & benefits; and, (iii) Monitoring of investigations into heinous offences like POCSO Act, NDPS Act, murder etc. by State chief Secretary and DG Police.

Besides Mohapatra, the meeting was attended by Jharkhand additional secretary, home, Sukhdev Singh, West Bengal additional secretary, irrigation, Navin Prakash and other senior officers of the union government and the States in Eastern Zone. 

All Zonal Councils have constituted Standing Committees consisting of the Chief Secretaries of the member States to screen agenda items to be placed before the respective Zonal Council for discussion apart from keeping a watch on the progress of implementation of the Council’s recommendations.