Maritime Sector Current Affairs

Union Cabinet approves introduction of Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016

The Union Cabinet has approved introduction of the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.

The bill is a revamped version of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. It seeks to repeal Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 as well the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838.

Key Features of Bill

  • Allows substantially-owned vessels and vessels on Bare Boat-cum-Demise (BBCD) to be registered as Indian flag vessels.
  • Recognises Indian controlled tonnage as a separate category. Makes separate rules for coastal vessels to develop and promote coastal shipping.
  • Dispenses with the requirement for issuing of licences to Indian flag vessels for coastal operation and for port clearance by the Customs authorities
  • Seafarers held in hostage captivity of pirates will receive wages till they are released and reach home back safely.
  • Mandatory for vessels owners to compulsorily take insurance of crew engaged on vessels including fishing, sailing and whose net tonnage is less than 15.
  • The crew members now don’t need to sign of articles of agreement before the Shipping Master.
  • Incorporates all International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions/Protocols in Indian laws up-to-date by inserting provisions relating to 7 different conventions.
  • These 7 different conventions are Intervention Convention 1969, Search and Rescue Convention 1979, Protocol for Prevention of Pollution from Ships, Convention for Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments 2004, Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention 2007, Salvage Convention 1989 and International Convention for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001.
  • Besides, the provisions for survey, inspection and certification of vessels are placed together in Bill to provide simplified regime for convenience of Indian shipping industry.

Why the bill repeals old laws?

  • As a result of various amendments carried out in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 from time to time, it had become a bulky piece of legislation over the years.
  • It was amended 17 times between 1966 and 2014 which had resulted in increase in the number of sections to more than 560 sections.
  • The new bill has provisions which have been meticulously shortened to 280 sections. It also simplifies the law governing the merchant shipping in India.
  • Further, certain redundant provisions have been removed and remaining provisions have been consolidated and simplified to promote ease of doing business, transparency and effective delivery of services.
  • The Coasting Vessels Act, 1838 was also an archaic legislation of the British era. It provided limited jurisdiction for registration of non-mechanically propelled vessels to Saurashtra and Kutch. The proposed bill allows registration of all vessels for the whole of India.

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Union Cabinet approves incorporation of Sagarmala Development Company

The Union Cabinet has approved the incorporation of Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) to give a push to port-led economic development under ambitious Sagarmala project.

SDC will be incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013, with an initial authorized share capital of 1,000 crore rupees and a subscribed share capital of 90 Crore rupees.

About Sagarmala Development Company (SDC)

  • SDC will be under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Shipping.
  • It will provide equity support to the project Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) and funding support to the residual projects under the Sagarmala Programme.
  • Implementation of the identified projects will be taken up mainly through private or PPP mode. It will also provide equity support for the project Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs).
  • SDC will mainly identify port-led development projects and assist the project SPVs in project development and structuring activities, bidding out projects for private sector participation.
  • It will also put in place suitable risk management measures for strategic projects cutting across multiple States and Regions and obtaining requisite approvals and clearances.
  • SDC will also undertake the preparation of the detailed master plans for the Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) identified as part of the NPP (National Perspective Plan).
  • SDC will provide a holistic framework for ensuring the integrated development of Indian maritime sector.
  • It will also manage the coastal community development scheme and fund coastal community development projects identified under the Sagarmala Programme.
  • SDC will raise long term capital as per project requirements by leveraging resources provided by Union Government and also from multi-lateral and bilateral funding agencies.

About Sagarmala Project

  • Union Government had launched Sagarmala Project with a view to achieve the broad objective of promoting port-led economic development in India.
  • The ambitious Project seeks to harness vast potential of India’s 7,500 km long coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways, and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes.
  • As part of it, a NPP for the comprehensive development of the coastline and maritime sector was prepared.
  • The NPP has identified more than 150 projects across the areas Port Connectivity Enhancement, of Port Modernization & New Port Development, Port-led Industrialization and Coastal Community Development.

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