The Union Cabinet has approved the draft Major Port Authorities Bill, 2016 to replace the existing Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.
The bill aims to empower 12 major ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision-making.
Salient features of the bill
- The Bill is more compact in comparison to Major Port Trusts Act, 1963. It has reduced number of sections to 65 from 134 by eliminating obsolete and overlapping Sections of previous Act.
- Board of Port Authority: It has been delegated full powers to enter into contracts, planning and development, fixing of tariff.
- However, these powers have exception in case of national interest, security and emergency arising out of inaction and default.
- Empowers the Board to make its own Master Plan in respect of area within port limits and construct within port limits Pipelines, Communication towers, Telephones, electricity supply or transmission equipment.
- It is empowered to lease land for Port related use for upto 40 years and for any purpose other than purposes specified in section 22. The approval above 20 years leasing will also require approval of the Central Government.
- Size of the Board of Port Authority: It has been reduced from 17-19 to 11 members. The compact board with professional independent members will strengthen decision-making and strategic planning.
- Representatives of the Board: It will include representatives of respective state governments, Defence Ministry, Railways Ministry and Department of Revenue along with a member representing employees of Major Ports Authority.
- Rates of other port services and assets: The Board of the Port Authority has been allowed to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets including land.
- Role of Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP): It has been redefined. It has been given powers to fix tariff which will act as a reference tariff for purposes of bidding for PPP projects. PPP operators will be free to fix tariff based on market conditions.
- Independent Review Board: It has been proposed to carry out the “residual function of the erstwhile TAMP for major ports. It will look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires. It will also review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures” to revive such projects.
Significance of the Bill
- Promotes expansion of port infrastructure and facilitate trade and commerce. Bring transparency in operations of Major Ports.
- Decentralize decision making and infuse professionalism in governance of major ports.
- Impart faster and transparent decision making benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability.
- Reorients governance model in central Ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice.
Note: 12 major ports are Kandla (Gujarat), Mumbai (Maharashtra), JNPT (Maharashtra), Marmugao (Goa), New Managlore (Karnataka), Cochin (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ennore (Tamil Nadu), V.O. Chidambarnar (Tamil Nadu), Visakhapatnam (Adhra Pradesh), Paradip (Odisha) and Kolkata (including Haldia, West Bengal).