Hyderabad, May 21: The seeds of autonomy and regional grouping have again been sown, but this time it is not politicians but bureaucrats who have mooted the proposal for a separate union of southern states.
Bureaucrats of Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, who met here today under the aegis of the Zonal Council of Southern States, suggested that a separate platform be set up for the these states to resolve economic issues.
They all agreed that the states could do better economically and administratively if inter-state problems were resolved regionally instead of running to Delhi at every instance.
Politicians of the region had been crying for autonomy to the southern states in finance and policy-making besides demanding more share in the Central pool of devolvement fund.
J.P. Sharma, additional chief secretary of Karnataka, sprung the proposal for creation of a union either on the lines of the European Union or Saarc. It was endorsed by all the members of the council — Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. “The pace of economic development can be doubled and implementation of various schemes speeded up if the states co-ordinate their economic activities — tax rebates, subsidies, industrial promotional policy and so on,” he said.
The concept had emerged out of a draft presentation by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on the possible growth chart if the states worked together and framed rules and regulations that would benefit all of them.
The next meeting of the standing committee will review the CII presentation and make recommendations for a policy framework. “Contentious issues, like river water disputes and border litigations, will be out of the purview of the union as they are normally taken up at the inter-state council at the Centre,” said Sudarshan, the council’s convener.
The meeting felt that there were many areas where the union could work out a formula like subsidies, uniform rules and regulations of excise and entry, migration laws, water transportation systems, horticulture and agricultural marketing.