Odisha objects to certain provisions in Draft Indian Ports

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Bill, 2021 Bhubaneswar, Jun 29 (PTI) The Odisha government Tuesday sought modification of certain provisions in the draft Indian Ports Bill-2021 to address the concerns of coastal states.

The matter was raised by the states Commerce and Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera in a letter to Minister for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways Mansukh Mandaviya apprehending that the new legislation may dilute powers already vested with the states on the management of non-major ports.

'It is requested that the important bill is not hastened and proper deliberations are done with stake-holding states to bring in more effectiveness to this legislation, which can make India a true powerhouse amongst the maritime nations of the world,' the letter read.

Behera drew the attention of the Union Minister on the draft of the Indian Ports Bill,2021 circulated by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) which will supersede the Indian Ports Act.1908'.

'There is no provision in the 'Indian Ports Bill, 2021' to include a state maritime board and a provision is required to be made for the same,' Behera said in the letter.

Odisha, he said, is in the process of constituting the Odisha State Maritime Board.

The bill which was passed in the state assembly last February is now awaiting the Presidents assent.

However, the inclusion of matters relating to safety and security of ports, prevention, and containment or pollution of ports, compliances with the country's obligation in the national interest in the draft bill was welcomed by Behera.

At present, the authority to make regulations for non-major ports for most subjects is the state maritime boards or the state governments of coastal states.

The Union government through the Maritime States Development Council (MSOC) seeks to appropriate the authority of the State through the proposed bill, he claimed.

'We object to this proposed appropriation of state authority by the Union government. The proposed provision, instead of making India a strong maritime nation, through its centralisation of au1hority, will stunt the growth of port-led development in the nation,' he said.

The commerce and transport minister said the proposal in this bill is against the very spirit of cooperative federalism and the empowerment of states.

Noting that the MSDC has been in existence as a notified advisory body since 1997, focusing on integrated planning and development of ports and inland waterways, the minister said the draft Bill proposes to give it a statutory status.

'While we welcome this step, MSDC should only comprise of ministers of coastal states and Union Minister for PSW similar to that of GST council. Officials of the Union government and coastal state governments may be made invitees to MSDC,' Behera said.

The draft Bill mandates centralisation of many routine functions to MSDC like conducting an inquiry, deciding tariff structure, which will be very limiting and less efficient, the minister said.

The MSDC's role should continue to be recommendatory and advisory as before, he said. PTI AAM MM MM

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