Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

Context: The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 has been passed by the Lok Sabha.

Analysis

Key features of the Bill include:

Application

  • The Bill will apply to the major ports of Chennai, Cochin, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Kandla, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Paradip, V.O. Chidambaranar, and Vishakhapatnam.
  • The existing Board of Port Trusts for each port will be replaced by a Board of Major Port Authority for each major port.  
  • Under the Bill, the Board of Major Port Authority or committees appointed by the Board will determine the rates instead of the Tariff Authority for Major Ports, subject to the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002, or any other laws in force.
  • Under the 1963 Act, the Board has to seek prior sanction of the central government to raise any loan.  Under the Bill, to meet its capital and working expenditure requirements, the Board may raise loans from any: 

    (i) scheduled bank or financial institution within India, or 
    (ii) any financial institution outside India that is compliant with all the laws.  
  • However, for loans above 50% of its capital reserves, the Board will require prior sanction of the central government.  
  • The Bill provides for the constitution of an Adjudicatory Board.
  • Functions of the Adjudicatory Board will include: 

    (i) certain functions being carried out by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports, 

    (ii) adjudicating on disputes or claims related to rights and obligations of major ports and PPP concessionaires, and 

    (iii) reviewing stressed PPP projects.   
  • In February 2020, the Union Cabinet gave its ‘in-principle approval for setting up a Major Port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra.

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