Chennai: Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Saturday welcomed the recommendations of M.M. Punchhi Commission calling for a review of subjects transferred from the state list and demanded the restoration of education from the concurrent list to the state list.
“This is an opportune moment to consider returning the subject of “education” to the “state list” where it originally was. The recommendation of the Punchhi Commission report to include a specific entry on “environment, ecology and climate change” in the Union List appears retrograde. “Forests and wildlife” was transferred from the state list to the concurrent list by the 42nd Amendment and hence “environment, ecology and climate change” should also be included in the concurrent list and not in the Union list”, she said.
In her address read by state finance minister O. Panneerselvam at the eleventh Inter-State Council meeting in New Delhi, she said “The responsibilities for actual delivery of many resource intensive public services — maintenance of public order, public health, agriculture, education, have always been vested with the states which are much closer to the people”.
Although the political, administrative and economic role of the states had grown significantly and a federal polity had become more entrenched, changes in Centre-state relations had clearly not kept pace, she said.
“Many of the efforts of over-centralisation through transfer of subjects from the state to the concurrent lists, uniform Central legislations on subjects in the state list, capture of growing tax bases by the Centre, encroaching into the executive jurisdiction of the states' most notably in the maintenance of public order, had not been reversed”.
She said it might not be appropriate to act with haste on the recommendation regarding providing a fixed term of five years for Governors and removal only through an impeachment process and not at the pleasure of the President.
“The Commission has made some important recommendations on the obligation of the Union Government to protect states from external aggression and internal disturbances. These recommendations are timely re-iterations of the existing Constitutional framework, particularly in the light of the continuing attacks on and apprehensions of poor Indian fishermen fishing in their traditional fishing waters in the Palk Bay by the Sri Lankan Navy. She also supported the recommendations for increasing the transfer of untied resources to the states, sharing by the Centre of the cost incurred by states in the implementation of Central legislations and avoiding the levy of cesses and surcharges which reduces the shareable pool of Central taxes available for devolution. The cesses and surcharges imposed must be added back to the base taxes and made shareable with the states at least in the next fiscal year. Ideally to counter balance the greater expenditure responsibilities of the states against the shrinking revenue sources”, she added.
She also welcomed the draft of the Centre-State Investment Agreement, but termed unacceptable it's move to deduct dues from state governments, saying it was trying to pass on financial burden to states....