Millennium Post

Cabinet nod to Major Ports Authority Bill to replace existing law

New Delhi: To provide autonomy to India's top 12 major ports and improve their efficiency and competitiveness, the government on Wednesday gave nod to much-awaited Major Ports Authority Bill to replace a 1963 law governing the sector and said it will be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament.

Earlier, the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016 and thereafter referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee but got lapsed after the dissolution of previous Lok Sabha.

"The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Major Port Authority Bill, 2020 to replace existing Major Port Trust Act. It will provide more operational autonomy to ports and fast decisions will be possible at port level only. The Bill will be introduced in ensuing session of Parliament," Shipping Minister Mansukh Lal Mandaviya said.

This will empower the major ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision making and by modernising the institutional framework of major ports, Mandaviya said.

This will not only boost India's EXIM trade but generate employment, he added.

"With a view to promote the expansion of port infrastructure and facilitate trade and commerce, the proposed bill aims at decentralising decision making and to infuse professionalism in governance of major ports," a Ministry of Shipping statement said.

The new Major Ports Authority Bill, 2020 would help to impart faster and transparent decision making benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability, it said.

The Bill is aimed at reorienting the governance model in central Ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice, it said and added, this will also help in bringing transparency in operations of Major Ports.

The government said the proposed Bill has been prepared after extensive consultation with all the stakeholders and Ministries/Departments after taking into account the recommendations of a parliamentary standing committee.

It said the Bill is more compact in comparison to the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 as the number of sections has been reduced to 76 from 134 by eliminating overlapping and obsolete Sections.

The role of Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) has been redefined as Port Authority has now been given powers to fix tariff, which will act as a reference tariff for purposes of bidding for PPP (public private partnership) projects.

"The Board of the Port Authority has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets including land...The Boards of the Port Authority have been delegated full powers to enter into contracts, planning and development, fixing of tariff except in national interest, security and emergency arising out of inaction and default," it said.

The Board of each Major Port shall be entitled to create specific master plan in respect of any development or infrastructure established or proposed to be established within the port limits, it said and added that provisions have been made for safeguarding the pay and allowances and service conditions including pensionary benefits of the employees of major ports.

Earlier, the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016 and thereafter referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC).

The PSC, after taking evidence and wide spread consultations, submitted its report in July 2017. Based on this, the Ministry of Shipping introduced the official amendment to the Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2018. However, the Bill got lapsed after the dissolution of previous Lok Sabha.

India has 12 major ports -- Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia).

These together had handled 699.04 million tonnes (MT) of cargo during 2018-19.

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