Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has assured all possible assistance from the Centre to the four Eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal for strengthening internal security.
Presiding over the 21st meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council here yesterday, he emphasized the need for better coordination between state and Central agencies, particularly in the matter of combating Naxalism.
On the issue of fund requirements for modernization of state police forces, Mr Singh said that the Centre would consider it on merit. He also promised to consider the demand for deployment of additional Central forces in the Naxalite-dominated "Red Zone" areas of the four states.
Bihar Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and representatives of Orissa and West Bengal were among those who attended the meeting.
The discussions covered issues such as Naxalism, police modernisation, border disputes, road connectivity, railway projects, water management, flood control, food problem, rural housing and more Central allocation for developmental activities.
The Council, which met after a gap of two years, also reviewed the progress in the implementation of the recommendations made at the last meeting of the Council held in Kolkata in 2013.
The Council also took up issues relating to release of water by West Bengal for the upper Mahananda irrigation project in Bihar, allocation of additional rice to the States, maternal and child nutrition for addressing malnutrition, measures for bringing green revolution to Eastern India and governance issues in relation to States for export promotion, issues relating to Geological Survey of India (GSI) concerning states of Eastern Zone, and implementation of India Statistical Strengthening Project (ISSP) in the States of the eastern zone.
The meeting decided to increase the cross-border coordination and emphasized on timely sharing of information. The issues relating to disaster management and curbing of drugs trafficking in the Eastern Zone were also discussed.
The Council also took up items suggested by the Inter-State Council in relation to amendments in the EZC rules and in relation to holding meeting of the Council as well as of the Standing Committee regularly.
In the meeting, Bihar raised the demand for grant of special status to the state. Further, issues of power shortage, management of river water for draught & flood control were also primarily raised by Bihar during the meeting.
Jharkhand put forth its concern about pending railway projects, need of better road connectivity for development and other issues.
The next meeting of the Council will be held at Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, later this year.