A Bill to increase the financial and executive powers of the ten autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the Northeast has been introduced by the Union Home Ministry in the Rajya Sabha, officials have confirmed.
At present, the autonomous councils depended on grants from Central ministries and the state government for specific projects. At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after the amendment is approved.
A Home Ministry official said that the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced amid din on February 6 in Rajya Sabha.
“It was decided to introduce in the Upper House of the Parliament in order to ensure that the legislation remains alive even after the House has adjourned sine die. Introducing it in Lok Sabha would have meant that the Bill’s life is co-terminus with that of the term of the Lok Sabha, which will see the last sitting of the current House on February 13,” the official said.
The proposed legislation was announced last year in wake of the protest in Northeast following passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha. It is is likely to impact over 1 crore tribals in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram, officials said.
The proposed amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, empowering democracy at the grassroots level. The village councils will be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice, including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries, and social forestry.