CHENNAI: Trade chambers now have joined hands with the Tamil Nadu government in opposing the draft Indian Ports Bill, 2021 which is alleged to be encroaching upon the State’s powers in regulating minor ports. Tamil Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce, Tamil Nadu chapter, have backed the State government in this regard.
A statement released by FICCI’s State chapter said the Bill will reduce current opportunities available for local businesses and industrialists to jointly develop minor ports and share revenue generated with State government.
“In Tamil Nadu alone, more than 85 ports have been notified which are viable for development. The Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Kattupulli, and Karaikal ports in Puducherry have been already developed. With this background, the introduction of the Draft Indian Ports Bill should be stopped and the planning, regulating and managing the minor ports should be with coastal states,” FICCI stated.
Opposing the draft Indian Ports Bill, Tamil Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Chozha Naachiar Rajasekar told Express that when the Major Ports Act was amended the representations for the public interest category like Chambers of Commerce of respective states were denied the opportunity in the board of major ports.
“Though Tamil Chamber of Commerce took up the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and participated in the parliamentary sub-committee meeting and opposed the move by stating the foreign exchange earning and payment of Customs Duty are being fully contributed by members of Chambers of Commerce in all major ports. Although the Shipping ministry agreed to consider the request, it was ignored,” he said while urging the state to oppose the draft bill.
Meanwhile, Minister for Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports, E V Velu during the 18th Maritime State Development Council held through Video Conferencing stated that as per the existing Indian Ports Act, 1908, the powers to plan, develop, regulate and control the minor ports vests with the State Government.
However, the draft Bill would take away many of these powers from the State Government, he said. The minister said that Maritime State Development Council (MSDC) is at present an advisory body. The provisions of the draft Bill are such that it would start functioning as a regulatory body for the minor ports.
Further, the composition of the MSDC is being modified with the addition of the officials of only the Central Government and not the State Governments. “Even, the Rule making power with regard to minor ports at present vests with the State Governments. As per the draft Bill, the Rule making power with respect to many aspects will go to the Central Government,” the minister stated.
The appellate powers against the orders of the State Maritime Board lies with the respective State Governments. However, as per the draft Bill, this power will go to the Appellate Tribunal which has been constituted by the Central Government basically for the major ports. The minister said that the powers of the state governments in matters of minor ports should not be disturbed in any manner.