Indian Ports Act, 1908 to be Replaced by the Proposed Indian Ports Bill, 2023

The proposed Indian Ports Bill, 2023 is intended to replace the Indian Ports Act, 1908
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The Indian government is working on a new legislation called the Indian Ports Bill, 2023, to enhance transparency and efficiency in port operations. The bill aims to replace the existing Indian Ports Act, which is over a century old. It will strengthen the Maritime States Development Council (MSDC) and promote integrated planning between states and the central government for port development. The proposed bill also focuses on setting comprehensive port tariffs, ensuring transparency and deregulation.

The control structure of port management, with major ports under the central government and smaller ports under state control, will remain the same under the new law. However, the central government may direct any port to integrate its data into a centralized system electronically. The new legislation seeks to strike a balance between the roles of the central and state governments, addressing concerns about potential encroachment on state government rights.

The bill empowers the MSDC to issue advisory guidelines for port tariffs after consulting with the central and state governments. The boards of major port authorities and state maritime authorities will have the authority to waive port fees in part or in whole. Moreover, the central and state governments will have the power to notify new ports, change existing port boundaries, deactivate ports, or revoke the approval of non-operational ports. There will also be a three-tier dispute resolution mechanism to handle conflicts between state maritime authorities.

To address environmental concerns, each port will be required to develop a plan for waste acceptance and treatment. Overall, the Indian Ports Bill, 2023 aims to modernize port regulations, foster transparency, and promote efficient port operations.

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