Its Commerce and Transport Minister cautions Centre against taking up the Bill in haste
The Odisha government has accused the Centre of attempting to appropriate the authority of coastal States through the proposed Indian Ports Bill, 2021.
“At present, the authority to make regulations for non-major ports for most subjects is with the State maritime boards or government of coastal States. The Union government, through the Maritime States Development Council (MSDC), seeks to appropriate this authority of the State through the proposed bill,” Odisha Commerce and Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera said cautioning the Centre against taking up the Indian Ports Bill, 2021 in haste.
“We object to this proposed appropriation of State authority by the Union government. The proposed provision, instead of making India a strong maritime nation through its centralisation of authority, will stunt the growth of port-led development in the nation. Also, this proposal is against the very spirit of cooperative federalism and empowerment of States,” Mr. Behera said in a letter to Union Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
“The MSDC has been in existence as a notified advisory body since 1997, focusing on integrated planning and development of ports and inland waterways. The draft Bill proposes to give it a statutory status. While we welcome this step, MSDC should only comprise Ministers of coastal States and concerned Union Minister, similar to the GST council,” he suggested
The officials concerned of the Union government and coastal State governments may be made invitees to the MSDC, Mr. Behera suggested. “The draft bill mandates centralisation of many routine functions to MSDC like conducting enquiry, deciding tariff structure etc. which will be very limiting and less efficient. MSDC’s role should continue to be recommendatory and advisory as before.”
He said the State was in the process of constituting ‘the Odisha State Maritime Board’. “The bill for it is now with Ministry of Home Affairs and is awaiting the assent of President of India, after being passed by the Odisha Legislative Assembly in February 2021.”
There was no provision in the ‘Indian Ports Bill, 2021’ to include a State Maritime Board, which was constituted at a later date by a State enactment, he pointed out.
The Odisha government urged the Union government to hold more deliberations with coastal States and address their concerns.
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