Parliament has passed the Major Port Authorities Bill 2020 Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (I/C) for Ports, Shipping & Waterways, moved the bill in Rajya Sabha on 10 February 2021 and it was passed. The bill will now go to the President of India for his assent.
With a view to promote expansion of port infrastructure and facilitate trade and commerce, the Major Port Authorities Bill aims at decentralising decision making and infuse professionalism in governance of major ports.
The bill is aimed at reorienting the governance model in central ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice.
This will also help in bringing transparency in operations of major ports. This will empower major ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision making and by modernising institutional framework of major ports.
The salient features of the Major Port Authorities Bill 2020 include – more compact in comparison to the Major Port Trusts Act 1963 as the number of sections has been reduced to 76 from 134 by eliminating overlapping and obsolete sections.
The new bill has proposed a simplified composition of the Board of Port Authority which will comprise 11 to 13 members from the present 17 to 19 members representing various interests. A compact board with professional independent members will strengthen decision making and strategic planning.
Provision has been made for inclusion of representatives of state government in which the major port is situated, the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Defence and Customs, the Department of Revenue as members in the board apart from a government nominee member and a member representing the employees of the Major Port Authority.
The role of the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) has been redefined. The Port Authority has now been given powers to fix tariff which will act as a reference tariff for the purpose of bidding for PPP projects.
The public private partnership (PPP) operators will be free to fix tariff-based on-market conditions. The Board of Port Authority has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets including land.
An Adjudicatory Board has been proposed to be created to carry out the residual function of the erstwhile TAMP for major ports to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires, review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to review stressed PPP projects and revive such projects and look into complaints regarding services rendered by the ports/private operators operating within the ports.
The Boards of Port Authority has been delegated full powers to enter into contracts, planning and development, fixing of tariff except in national interest, security and emergency arising out of inaction and default. In the present MPT Act 1963 prior approval of the Central government was required in 22 instances.
The board of each major port will be entitled to create specific master plan in respect of any development or infrastructure.
Apart from this, provisions of CSR & development of infrastructure by the Port Authority have been introduced, and a provision has been made for safeguarding pay and allowances and service conditions including pension benefits of employees of major ports.