Major Port Authorities Bill 2020

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    In News: Recently, Rajya Sabha has passed the Major Ports Authorities Bill 2020.

    • The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha during the Monsoon session in September 2020.

    Key Highlights of the Bill

    • The Bill seeks to provide for regulation, operation and planning of major ports in India and provide greater autonomy to these ports. 
    • Application: The Bill will apply to the major ports of Chennai, Cochin, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Kandla, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Paradip, V.O. Chidambaranar, and Visakhapatnam.
    • Major Port Authorities Board: The Bill provides for the creation of a Board of Major Port Authority for each major port.  These Boards will replace the existing Port Trusts.
      •  Under the 1963 Act, all major ports are managed by the respective Board of Port Trusts that have members appointed by the central government. 
    • Composition: The Board will comprise of a chairperson and a deputy chairperson, appointed by the Centre on the recommendation of a selection committee.
      •  It will have a member each from the state governments, the Railways Ministry, the defence ministry, and the customs department.
      • The Board will also include two to four independent members, and two members representing the interests of the employees of the Major Port Authority.
    • Powers of the Board: The Bill allows the Board to use its property, assets and funds as deemed fit for the development of the major port.
      • The Board can also make rules on (i) declaring the availability of port assets for port-related activities and services, (ii) developing infrastructure facilities such as setting up new ports, jetties, and (iii) providing exemption or remission from payment of any charges on any goods or vessels.
    • Fixing of rates: Currently, the Tariff Authority for Major Ports, established under the 1963 Act, fixes the scale of rates for assets and services available at ports. 
      • Under the Bill, the Board or committees appointed by the Board will determine these rates.
    • Financial powers of the Board: Under the 1963 Act, the Board had to seek the prior sanction of the Centre to raise any loan.
      • Under the new Bill, to meet its capital and working expenditure requirements, the Board may raise loans from any scheduled bank or financial institution within India, or any financial institution outside India that is compliant with all the laws.
    • Corporate Social Responsibility: The Bill provides that the Board may use its funds for providing social benefits. 
      •  This includes the development of infrastructure in areas such as education, health, housing, and skill development.
    • Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects: The Bill defines PPP projects as projects taken up through a concession contract by the Board.  For such projects, the Board may fix the tariff for the initial bidding purposes.   

    Relevance

    • This will empower the Major Ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision making and by modernizing the institutional framework of Major Ports.
    • By this India’s major ports can compete with major world-class ports, as India is the sixteenth largest maritime country in the world, with a coastline of about 7,517 km.

    Major Ports in India

    • 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)

    Source :PIB