The Union Minister for Home and Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah, chaired the 30th Southern Zonal Council meeting in Thiruvananthapuram today. The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, the Lieutenant Governors of Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Administrator of Lakshadweep, Chief Secretaries of Southern Zonal Council States, Union Home Secretary, Secretary Inter-State Council Secretariat and other Senior officials of State and Central Ministries and Departments.l

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The Union Home and Cooperation Minister in his opening address extended ‘Onam’ greetings to the people of Kerala- the abode of natural beauty. He said Onam is a major festival not only of Kerala but of Indian culture.

Shri Amit Shah said this year is very important in the history of the country as this year is being celebrated as the year of Azadi ka  Amrit Mahotsav. He said that in the ‘Har Ghar Tricolor’ campaign launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, countryman rose above their State affiliations, caste, religion and set an excellent example of unity and patriotism by hoisting the tricolor in their homes. Shri Shah thanked all the States  for celebrating the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. He said that for the bright future of the country, everyone needs to work together to bring this spirit of patriotism at the ground level in the next eleven months of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

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The Union Home Minister said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the nature of the Zonal Councils has changed in the last eight years and the number of its meetings has increased significantly. Before 2014, the zonal councils used to have an average of two meetings in a year, which this government has increased to 2.7. On an average, the Standing Committees used to have 1.4 sittings, this government has also almost doubled this to 2.75. Prior to 2014, the percentage of issues resolved in the meetings of the Zonal Councils was 43, now it has increased to 64 percent. Between 2006 and 2013, 104 issues were discussed in the zonal council meetings, from 2014 to 2022, 555 issues were discussed and 64 percent of these were resolved by mutual consent. He said out of the 9 coastal States, 4 States and 4 out of 3 Union Territories are members of the Southern Zonal Council, which means that out of the total 7,500 kms long coastline ,about 4,800 kms coadtline comes under these States. Shri Shah said out of 12 major ports of India, 7 major ports are in this region. With this, now out of the total 3,461 fishing villages in India, 1,763 fishing villages are in this zone and there is immense potential for increasing trade and export of marine products.

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Shri Amit Shah said the Prime Minister has a special attachment to Southern India, that is why after becoming the Prime Minister in 2014, Shri Narendra Modi, along with the Sagarmala Project has started various schemes for the upgradation of major ports for the development of coastal States. Out of these, 108 projects worth Rs. 76,000 crore have been completed while 98 projects worth Rs. 13,2000 crore are under implementation. Thus in total projects worth more than Rs. 2,00,000 crore are being implemented under Sagarmala for coastal States. He said 61 projects are under implementation at a tune of Rs. 7,737 crore for the overall development of coastal districts. Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana is being run for the Blue Revolution. Since 2015, Rs. 4,206 crore has been sanctioned for the Fisheries Infrastructure Development Fund Scheme in the Southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh 56 projects have been approved for the development of basic infrastructure of ports and fisheries in the States at a cost of Rs. 2,711 crore.

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The Union Home Minister said that in the 30th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council held in Thiruvananthapuram today, 26 issues were discussed, 9 issues were resolved, 17 issues were reserved for further consideration, out of which 9 issues were related to the reorganization of Andhra Pradesh. Shri Shah urged Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to settle their pending issues, which will not only benefit the people of their States but will also lead to all-round development of the entire Southern region. He called upon all the member States of the Council to find a joint solution to the issues related to sharing of water. Shri Shah said that in the 12th meeting of its Standing Committee, a total of 89 issues were discussed and out of this 63 issues were settled by mutual agreement which is a significant achievement.

The Union Home and Cooperation Minister said  the main objectives of the Zonal Council meeting are – amicable settlement of disputes between the Centre and the States and inter-State through mutual agreement, promotion of regional cooperation between States, providing a forum for all States to brainstorm on issues of common national importance and setting up a collaboration system for strengthening cooperation among all stakeholders. Shri Shah said that for the all-round development of the country, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has put the concept of Team India before the nation and all the States together form Team India.

Shri Amit Shah said that the Ministry of Home Affairs has tried to crack down on the problem of Narcotics with utmost strictness. He stressed on holding regular meetings of NCORD from all the States and taking them to the district level. Shri Shah informed that QR-enabled PVC Aadhar cards have been given to more than 12 lakh fishermen. This will not only give recognition to the fishermen of the coastal States but will also strengthen coastal security. The Home Minister said that a policy for establishing forensic science labs has been prepared and sent to the States. This will increase the  Conviction Rate. He said that the target of the Modi government is to have a bank branch in every five kilometres, for this, the member States of the Southern Zonal Council should make efforts to provide banking facilities within five kilometers of every village in their area and persuade cooperative banks to open branches. This will help in delivering the benefits of government schemes directly to beneficiaries through DBT.