The Union Cabinet has approved the constitutional amendment which seeks to increase the powers of the autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the Northeast.
What are the amendments proposed?
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 amendments proposed are:
- Amendments to Article 280 to provide 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 existing autonomous district councils would be renamed as autonomous territorial councils since the jurisdiction of the councils extends to more than one district.
- The devolution of the financial resources to these councils would be based on the recommendations of the finance commission.
- The amendments provide for the transfer of additional 30 subjects to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council in Assam.
- The amendments also provide for elected village municipal councils to ensure democracy at the grassroots level.
- The amendments empower village councils 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.
The amendments are in direction of fulfilling the commitments made under tripartite Memorandum of Settlements signed by Government of India, governments of Assam and Meghalaya, United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), Dima Halam Daogah (DHD) and Achik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC).