Keeping a special provision for securing the development of hill areas of Manipur, the Hills Area Committee of the Manipur Legislative Assembly on Thursday introduced the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021.
Speaking to media regarding the newly drafted bill at Hotel Classic Grande, Imphal, committee chairman K Leishiyo said that the Article 371C of the Constitution of India provides a separate scheme for the administration of hill areas in the state through the Hill Areas Committee and District Councils.
Notably even after getting the statehood in 1972, the ADC has been implementing the Act which was enacted by Parliament since the time when Manipur was a union territory, he said. So, the Hills Area Committee had unanimously drafted the bill for the welfare of the people of the hill areas, he added.
The chairman informed that the bill has been submitted to the state government so that it can be tabled on the floor of the Assembly and for passing it in the interest of the people living in hill areas.
Committee member TN Haokip stated that if the newly drafted bill is passed by the August House and turned into an Act, it will be effective in bringing great development to the hill areas.
Another member of the committee, Alfred Kanngam Arthur supplemented that the bill has been unanimously drafted by the committee after thorough discussion for four-and-half-years and it contains certain special provisions for the development of the hills.
He said that the Hill Area Committee has been constituted with a sole purpose of ensuring accelerated development of the hill areas and to promote unity between the people of the hill areas and the remaining sections of the state.
“Unifying the state cannot be an emotional integration. There has to be a fundamental, sustainable and consistent growth. And it is possible only when there is firm law,” he said.
The very reason Article 371C was inserted, was to empower the state to help its domiciles and residents to grow hand in hand, he further said, adding that the committee has come together to bring a draft bill for the state to legislate and enact which would bring the people closer and grow together to bear the fruit of democracy together.
The newly drafted bill has made it very clear to ensure development of the hill areas at the same time ensuring the unity of the state, added Arthur.
He further said that the draft bill would ensure progress for the future generation, and that they would appreciate the changes which could be achieved by good legislation to bring equitable development for the residents of the state.
According to the copy of the drafted bill released to the media, more autonomy is to be granted to the Hill Areas Committee and the Autonomous District Councils with regard to administration and management of Hill Areas of the State.
It mentioned of provisions to take into consideration the current ground realities in the Hill Areas of the state including increasing the number of constituencies of the Autonomous District Council to 31, of which three members to be nominated and further in the delimitation process of the 28 constituencies, 3/4th of the seats shall be allocated as per population representation of the areas covered under the Autonomous District and 1/4 of the seats shall be reserved for socio-economically backward areas and need based special geographical areas within the respective Autonomous District.
The drafted bill also lists creation of Hill Areas Secretariat for managing and coordinating the working of all the Autonomous Councils, reviewing and monitoring all the projects and programmes undertaken by Autonomous District Council. Coordination and management of the budgetary allocation as per department or area-wise requirement for the Hill Areas of Manipur is also mentioned.
Providing first and second appeal with regard to the adjudication of an election petition under the Bill is also listed.
It also mentions creation of an Executive Committee under the Autonomous District Councils which shall act as a cabinet of the Autonomous District Council and states that the Executive Committee shall have members not exceeding seven.
The draft bill mentions bringing in Hill House Tax within the purview of the Autonomous District Council. It further mentions more effective and active involvement of Hill Areas Committee in development and economic planning including budget planning and allocations for the entire Hill Areas for the state.