After Gujarat it is the turn of Andhra Pradesh to oppose a central
legislation, the Indian Port's bill 2020
which will have control over minor ports of the state, hitherto run by the
Andhra Pradesh has opposed the
Centre’s move to snatch control of even minor ports from the states through the
proposed Indian Ports Bill, 2020.
Describing the Bill — that can decide which minor port should remain
operational and whichhas to be shut down
— as blot on the federal spirit, the state government has sent a letter tothe Centre asking the latter to convene a meeting
with all the maritime states before proceeding furtheron the proposed legislation.
GMB also opposes
several provisions of the Bill
AP’s objections come close on the heels of the Gujarat Martime Board(GMB), the oldest autonomous authority that
revolutionised the maritime sector in Prime MinisterNarendra Modi’s native state, also opposing
several provisions of the Bill. but Gujarat has made the minor ports into major ones mostly in the
private sector. For instance the Mundra Port owned by the Adanis is the largest
port in both public and private sector categories.
While GMB soft-peddled onthe Bill apparently due to political compulsions, the AP Maritime Board
explained in detail how the Billis ultra vires the Constitution. “The Centre under the guise of the new
Bill cannot step into the shoesof states and take away all their powers,” said N.P. Ramakrishna Reddy,
APMB chief executive officer,in his latest letter to the Union ministry of shipping.
Pradesh is setting up three ports in collaboration with the Private sector and
all these projects will become a question mark once the bill becomes the law.
West bengal government is also constructing a port near the Sagar Islands.
Tamil Nadu has several private captive ports to cater to the requirements of
particular industries in the state.
insisted that minor ports should remain with the states
Earlier, too, the state authorities had expressedconcern over the provisions of the Bill and
insisted that minor ports should remain with the states.
Ramakrishna Reddy explained that sub clause 5 specifies that all ports
operating prior to the appointeddate shall not function after two years, unless permitted by the Centre.
“This cannot be accepted as itis against the long-term concession agreements signed with private
developers,” he pointed out.
Whilethe state developed
or proposed to develop a few minor ports on its own, it alloted a few others toprivate players to develop under the public
private partnership mode. The Centre proposed a singleentity, the Maritime Port Regulatory Authority,
which will have control over the 130-odd minor portsnationwide. Though the states will have their
boards, the Centre will appoint the constituents and willplay big brother to every decision of the state
boards. Ramakrishna Reddy drew the Centre’s attentionto previous enactments on subjects included in
the concurrent list and empowering the states toregulate them as in the case of labour, industrial
and energy laws.
Another feature of
the Bill that threatens Centre has the power to publish a plan for development
Another feature of the Bill that maythreaten to lead to biased development of the maritime sector is the
Centre’s power to decide andpublish a plan for development of ports. “Waterfront and land in the sea up
to the baseline belong tothe state and we should decide development of our 974-km long coastline,
not the Centre,” the APMBchief said.
The Bill is likely to hamper the states’ growth if the Centre ignores
development of minorports in a
particular state due to reasons other than technical and commercial, which, in
other words,mean political.
The dispute resolution and adjudication process suggested in the Bill is
also faulty andwill not withstand
the legal scrutiny, he pointed out in the letter.