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EZC meet chaired by Amit Shah underway

The 24th EZC meeting is being attended by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his West Bengal and Bihar counterparts Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar respectively.

February 28, 2020 / 12:55 PM IST
Home Minister Amit Shah

Home Minister Amit Shah

A meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council (EZC), chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, is underway here on Friday, with Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren skipping the meet.

The 24th EZC meeting is being attended by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his West Bengal and Bihar counterparts Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar respectively.

Soren, who was unable to attend the meeting, has deputed Jharkhand Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon to represent the state.

Though no reason for Soren's absence at the meeting was cited, it was perhaps because of the commencement of the budget session of the Jharkhand Assembly, according to sources.

Patnaik is the vice chairman of the council and host of the meeting, which is also being attended by senior officers of the states and the Centre.

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Apart from the vexed Left-wing extremism, the EZC meeting is likely to focus on issues like coal-royalty revision, heinous crimes and rail-link projects, according to official sources.

Keeping in view the presence of so many VVIPs in the state, the Odisha police has made elaborate security arrangements, an officer said, adding that special measures had been taken for Shah's public meeting at the Janata Maidan here in support of the amended citizenship law.

The issues set to figure in the EZC meeting include interstate water issues, power transmission lines, royalty and operationalisation of coals mines, land and forest clearance of rail projects, investigation of heinous offences.

The issues related to cattle smuggling across country's borders, lack of telecom and banking infrastructure in remote areas, petroleum projects, sharing pattern on centrally collected revenues and others could also be discussed, the official said.

"We will raise the issues relating to coal-royalty revision and mobile phone connectivity to 11,000 villages in remote Odisha," Chief Secretary A K Tripathy had told reporters ahead of the meeting on Thursday.

Since all the four eastern states -- Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand -- have coal-bearing areas, the respective chief ministers will certainly raise the issue as the Centre has delayed revision of royalty for the fuel by three years, an official said.

The Odisha chief minister has already written several letters to the Centre seeking coal royalty revision and share for the states on green cess.

Meanwhile, Shah, who is on his first visit to Odisha after becoming a Union minister, has been invited to lunch by Patnaik at his residence. Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar have also been invited, according to sources.
PTI
first published: Feb 28, 2020 12:52 pm

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