Odisha seeks modification in provisions of draft Indian Ports Bill, 2021


Odisha Government on Tuesday sought modification in provisions of Draft Indian Ports Bill-2021 to address the concerns of Coastal States.

In this regard, Odisha, Commerce and Transportation Minister Padmanabha Behera wrote to Union Minister, Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Mansukh Mandaviya.

The letter by Behera read, “My State is in the process of constituting the Odisha State Maritime Board. The Bill for it is now with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, now awaiting the assent of the President of India, after being passed by the Odisha Legislative Assembly in February 2021. There is no provision in the Indian Ports Bill, 2021′ to include a State Maritime Board which is constituted at a later date by a State enactment. A provision is required to be made for the same.”

As per the letter, the inclusion of matters relating to safety and security of ports, prevention and containment of pollution of ports, compliances with the country’s obligation under the maritime treaties and international instruments to which our country is a party in the draft Bill are most welcome in our national interest.

At present, Behera in the letter stated that the authority to make regulations for non-major ports for most subjects is the State Maritime Boards/ State Governments of coastal States. The Union Government through the Maritime States Development Council (MSDC) seeks to appropriate this authority of the State through the proposed Bill. “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 centralization of authority, will stunt the growth of port-led development in the nation. Also, this proposal is against the very spirit of cooperative federalism and empowerment of States”, read the letter.

“The MSDC has been in existence as a notified advisory body since 1997, focusing on integrated planning and development of ports & inland waterways. 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. The concerned officials of the Union Government and coastal State Governments may be made invitees to MSDC. The draft Bill mandates centralization of many routine functions to MSDC like conducting enquiry, deciding tariff structure etc. which will be very limiting and less efficient. MSDC’s role should continue to be recommendatory and advisory as before”, read the letter.

Behera in the letter to Union Minister Mansukh L. Mandaviya requested that important Bills are not hastened and proper deliberations are done with stakeholding States to bring in more effectiveness to this important legislation, which can make India a true powerhouse amongst the maritime nations of the world.

In view of the above, Odisha Minister requested Union Minister Mandaviya’s personal intervention in the matter so that the draft Bill is modified to address the concern of the coastal States.