The Major Ports Authorities Bill 2020 will bring about good competition among major and private ports, and boost port land usage and increase competition in port tariffs.
Mansukh, Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, said the bill seeks to provide more autonomy in decision-making to the 12 major ports of the country, and professionalize their governance through the formation of boards.
“Major Ports Authorities Bill will encourage good competition between major and private ports. It’ll boost port land usage and amplify competition in port tariffs. India’s major ports will be able to survive while competing with non-major and private ports,” he said.
As per the Statement of Objects annexed to the bill, Major Ports are facing severe competition due to the development of private ports. Further, regulation of tariff in Major Ports by the Tariff Authority under the 1963 Act and their administrative control by the Central Government are some of the critical factors hindering growth and development. The bill seeks to enable the ports in India to compete in the evolving market conditions by providing greater autonomy.
However, the opposition parties have opposed this bill, alleging that it was aimed towards the privatization of ports and depleting the powers of states with regard to land use. Shaktisinh Gohil, Congress MP, pointed out the loopholes in the draft copy of the bill were intentionally kept with a view to assist the backdoor entry of the friends into the sector. P Wilson, DMK leader, also said that the bill had been passed to serve private players, and also reduce the state governments’ say in the development of ports.
The union minister insisted that the bill does not seek to privatize the ports. He reiterated that it aims to strengthen all major ports so that they can compete with existing private ports. Mansukh assured the members that such decentralization of power at major ports will provide autonomy to the boards and will enhance their decision making, with respect to infrastructural development and tariff fixing.