The Union Cabinet has approved a Constitutional amendment to grant increased powers
to Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the North East, the Home Ministry announced on Wednesday. The proposed amendment to Article 280 would give greater financial resources to the councils that administer the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura and enable them to undertake development works.
The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution provides for decentralised self-governance and dispute resolution through local customary laws in parts of the North East, mainly tribal areas.
The Rajnath Singh-led ministry said that the Finance Commission will recommend the devolution of financial resources to 10 Autonomous District Councils, village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas.
The amendment also proposes to rename the existing autonomous district councils as autonomous territorial councils because the jurisdiction of the councils extends to more than one district.
The ministry also announced the establishment of state finance commissions in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council will have access to decision-making in 30 more subjects than earlier, including public works, forests, health, urban development and food.
The statement said the state Election Commissions would hold elections to autonomous councils, village and municipal councils in the scheduled areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura. One-third of these seats will be reserved for women, and at least two nominated members in all autonomous councils will be women, the ministry said.
Meghalaya is not currently included under the provision for elected village and municipal councils and the one-third reservations for women, The North East Today reported, quoting an official.
The development fulfills the commitments of the Memorandum of Settlements signed by the Centre, states of Assam and Meghalaya, United People’s Democratic Solidarity, Dima Halam Daogah and Achik National Volunteers’ Council, the ministry said.