Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Friday called for strengthening the autonomous district councils to protect the tribal identity.

He said that the biggest problem the ADCs are facing is that of the scarcity of funds.

“The purpose of setting up ADCs has been accomplished. They have protected tribal identity and we must strengthen them,” he said, while addressing a programme also attended by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

The chief minister said people who question the effectiveness or necessity of ADCs draw their conclusions based on what is visible on the surface.

“The biggest problem the ADCs face is that of financial crunch. Under Article 280 of the Constitution, there is a provision of Finance Commission funding for panchayats and civic bodies but not district councils,” he said.

Citing the example of Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, he said the body’s expenditure is more than its revenue. “ADCs don’t get much support from the Centre and the Finance Commission. Because of this, district councils appear to be failing but they are not getting financial support, which affects their performance,” he said.

The chief minister said that there is political instability in the district councils due to the absence of the Anti-Defection Law. He suggested that Khasi and Garo languages be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

“To assure people of the Northeast that they are being given equal importance, recognition of our languages is important,” he said.

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