TN opposes revised Draft Indian Ports Bill 2021 at virtual meet

The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday opposed the revised Draft Indian Ports Bill 2021 in the present form, saying it will 'dilute' states' powers vis-a-vis management of minor ports. It would send detailed comments after due scrutiny of the bill, the government said.
TN opposes revised Draft Indian Ports Bill 2021 at virtual meet
Tamil Nadu Minister EV Velu (File Photo)


Since the government received the revised draft for furnishing remarks only on June 14, there was hardly any time to study the bill, Minister for Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports, E V Velu said at the 18th Maritime State Development Council (MSDC) meet held through video conference on Thursday. 
"However, I wish to clearly state that provisions of the Draft Indian Ports Bill 2021 have long term policy implications for coastal states and the subject is of utmost importance." 
"Under the provisions of the Indian Ports Act, 1908, the minor ports in the country have developed well. The draft Bill totally dilutes this good system," the minister said at the virtual meet chaired by Union Minister of State for Ports Mansukh Mandaviya. 
Expressing Tamil Nadu's opposition to the move to ''dilute'' the powers of the state government and converting MSDC into a regulatory body, Velu said, "I would like to request that the present system with regard to the powers of the state governments in matters of minor ports should not be disturbed in any manner." 
As per the existing Indian Ports Act, 1908, the powers to plan, develop, regulate and control minor ports are vested with the state fovernment and the draft bill would take away many of these powers from states, the minister argued. 
The MSDC was at present an advisory body and the provisions of the draft bill are such that it would start functioning as a regulatory body for minor ports. 
Further, the rule making power with regard to minor ports presently vested with the states, as per the draft Bill, will go to the Central Government. 
Also, the present appellate powers against the orders of the State Maritime Board will go to the Appellate Tribunal which has been constituted by the Centre basically for the major ports, he said. 
Hence, the minister said, "the State Government would be sending detailed comments after due scrutiny of the draft bill." 
Earlier, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin called upon his counrterparts of eight coastal states, including Kerala, West Bengal, Karnataka and Maharashtra and the union territory of Puducherry, to express their objections to the new draft Bill and urged them to take joint action to prevent any move to dilute the powers already vested with the states. 
"We have already taken up the issue with the Union Ministry for Ports and Shipping, strongly opposing such steps to reduce the autonomous role of States in the regulation and management of Minor Ports," Stalin had said in the letter.

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