Shillong, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on Friday that the key objective behind setting up the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) is to protect the rights of the tribal communities of northeast India, provide them equal rights in the decision-making process and ensure that their administration is carried out in accordance with their traditions and conventions.
The Lok Sabha Speaker said that the northeastern states are quite distinct from a geographical and socio-cultural point of view. Keeping this in view, a special provision for ADCs for these states has been made in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
“In fact, the functions of these ADCs are like that of a mini state legislative body. Therefore, the objective of the discussion and dialogue held here should be to ensure accountability of the executives. ADCs hold a pivotal place in the process of local development. Their members have full knowledge of the strengths of local areas which can be optimally utilised for their socio-economic development,” Birla said.
The Lok Saba Speaker was speaking after inaugurating the ‘Outreach and Familiarisation Programme for Local Bodies of Meghalaya and Other Northeastern States’, organised by the Parliamentary Research and Training Institute for Democracies (PRIDE) at the state convention centre in Shillong.
He also said that the Union government intends to give a boost to local area development through the ‘Vocal for Local’ mission.
“The ‘Act East Policy’ has opened up immense possibilities for the development of the northeast. You need to be prepared to tap the new opportunities to their maximum. The ‘local self government’ is a symbol of both democracy and development. It provides a framework for decentralisation of democracy,” he added.
According to Birla, the local self government strengthens the democracy at the grassroots level through which citizens get an opportunity to become a stakeholder in the local self government of their area.
He said the Mawlynnong village in East Khasi Hills district, which is regarded as the cleanest village of India, is the best example of this.
“This could be made possible only due to the efforts of the local bodies. Be it Panchayati Raj institutions or ADCs, the prime objective of every institution is to address the issues facing the masses through democratic discussion and dialogue. It should be our endeavour that all the panchayats and local bodies may formulate a nationwide system to share their knowledge, experience and best practices among themselves,” the Lok Sabha Speaker said.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, MoS Rameshwar Teli, Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh and Meghalaya minister Lahkmen Rymbui also spoke on occasion.