The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 was recently passed in Lok Sabha. The bill aims to regulate, operate and plan major ports in India. It seeks to provide greater autonomy to ports in the country. It will replace Major Ports Act, 1963.
Key Features of the bill
- The bill applies to major ports such as Vishakhapatnam, V.O.Chidambaranar, Paradip, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Kandla, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Kandla, Chennai, Cochin.
- The ports will be managed by Port Authorities Board. Every port will have a port authority. These authorities will act under the leadership of a central board. The boards will replace the existing port trusts
- The board will comprise of chairperson, members from respective state governments, representatives from Defence Ministry, Railway Ministry and Customs Department. The chairperson of the board is to be appointed by the Central Government
- It will include two to four independent members representing the interests of the port authorities.
- The board will be empowered to use its properties and fix scales of rates for assets. They shall determine rates
- for different classes of goods, vessels
- Access to and use port assets
- For services performed at ports
Financial Powers of the Board
The board can raise loans from any scheduled banks, financial institutions. However, for loan amounts greater than 50% the board will require prior sanction from the central government.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The board has been empowered to use its funds to provide social benefits as well. It includes health, education, environment, skill development and housing. It can also be used to provide benefits for employees, local communities and society at large.
The Adjudicatory Board will carry out the functions of the tariff authority of the ports. It will review stressed PPP projects. It will also adjudicate on disputes related to rights of major ports.