After a delay of more than two years, Union home minister Amit Shah is likely to chair the Western Zonal Council meeting in Diu on Saturday. Chief ministers from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and administrator from Daman-Diu are likely to attend the meet, held for the first time in Diu, officials added. The last meeting between Centre and States from Western zone was held in August 2019 at Goa, they added.

The five Zonal Councils – Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Central – were set up under the States Reorganization Act, 1956 to foster Inter-State co-operation and co-ordination among the states. The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport etc. The council is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the home minister as chairman of the Zonal councils.

Maharashtra is likely to raise the issue of delay in central assistance during natural calamities while the Centre is likely to convey its concern over rise in smuggling of narcotics from ports in Gujarat and Maharashtra. In the past, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have made large amounts of seizure both from land and sea routes, along with Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guards (ICG). The states in western zone have been a big exporter of sugar, cotton, groundnut and fish and contribute more than 45 percent of the total exports of the country.

Shah is also expected to review state’s preparedness to deal with floods and monsoon in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. During the last meeting, the coastal states were advised to come up with a solution of encrypted QR Code on Aadhaar card for verifying antecedents of marine fishermen.

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