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Addressing major issue between the Centre and maritime States

  • Published
    14th Sep, 2022
Context

Though the government issued the Draft Indian Ports Bill (IP Bill), 2022 for stakeholder consultation, main issue between the Centre and maritime States are intact.

About

Ports in India:

  • Approximately 95 per cent of India’s trade by volume and 68 per cent by value are moved through maritime transport facilitated by 212 ports (12 major and 200 minor ports) along its 7,517 km coastline.
  • Most of the non-major ports are small fishing harbours and only a few of them cater to international shipping.
    • Major ports figure in the Union List and come under the jurisdiction of the Central government.
    • Non-major ports are in the Concurrent List and come under the respective State governments, but the Centre has overriding legislative and executive powers.
  • The major ports are governed under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.
  • All the non-major Ports (minor ports) are governed under the Indian Ports Act, 1908 which regulates the berths, stations, anchoring, fastening, mooring and unmooring of vessels.

Need for new bill:

  • The draft IP Bill 2022 seeks to repeal and replace the 114-year-old Indian Ports Act of 1908.
  • The Indian Ports Act, 1908 has become imperative that the Act is revamped to reflect the present-day frameworks, incorporate India’s international obligations, address emerging environmental concerns, and aid the consultative development of the ports sector in the national interest.

Key objectives of the draft bill

  • promote integrated planning between States inter-se and Centre-States through a purely consultative and recommendatory framework;
  • ensure prevention of pollution measures for all ports in India while incorporating India’s obligations under international treaties;
  • address lacunae in the dispute resolution framework required for burgeoning ports sector and
  • Usher-in transparency and cooperation in the development and other aspects through the use of data.

Key features of the bill

  • establish a national council for fostering structured growth and development of the port sector, and ensure optimum utilisation of the coastline of India
  • empower and establish State Maritime Boards for effective administration, control and management of non-major ports in India;
  • provide for adjudicatory mechanisms for redressal of port related disputes and,
  • prevention and containment of pollution at ports, and take measures for conservation of ports

What are the key international obligations addressed under the bill?

The new Bill incorporates several international instruments, to which India is a party, in the national legislation namely,

  • International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code 2004
  • International Convention for the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL) 1973
  • International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments (Ballast Water Management Convention) 2004
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