Odisha Objects Certain Provisions In Draft Indian Port Bill-2021

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Bhubaneswar:  The Odisha government has objected certain provisions in the draft Indian Port Bill-2021, circulated by the Shipping Ministry.

The State Commerce & Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera has written to Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya seeking modification in the draft Indian Port Bill-2021.

In the letter, Minister Behera appraised that “Odisha is in the process of constituting ‘The Odisha State Maritime Board’. The Bill for it is now with Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India now awaiting the assent of the President, 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,”

“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,” read the letter.

Behera further said, “At present, 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 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 Govt. 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.”

“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,” Behera said.

The Odisha Minister has requested the Union Minister’s personal intervention in the matter so that the draft Bill is modified to address the concern of the coastal States.

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