Odisha commerce and transport minister Padmanabha Behera has written a letter to Union ports, shipping and waterways minister Mansukh Mandaviya, pointing out that bills should not be expedited in the House

The Odisha government has protested to the Centre against the lack of provision of a state maritime board in the proposed Indian Ports Bill, 2021

In a letter to Union ports, shipping and waterways minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Odisha commerce and transport minister Padmanabha Behera said, “Odisha is in the process of constituting Odisha State Maritime Board. The proposed bill for the same is now with the ministry of home affairs awaiting the assent of the President after being passed by the Odisha Legislative Assembly in February 2021. There is no provision in the Indian Ports Bill, 2021 to include a State Maritime Board which is constituted at a later date by a state enactment. The Union government, through Maritime States Development Council (MSDC), seeks to appropriate this authority of the state through the proposed bill,” Behera wrote. While passing the bill in February this year, the state government had said the State Maritime Board will be the authority that allows construction, maintenance and operation of ports in the state directly or through PPP mode. It will also regulate and control navigation within the limits of the port and port approaches.

“The proposed provision, instead of making India a strong maritime nation, through its centralisation of authority will stunt the growth of port-led development in the nation. Also, this proposal is against the very spirit of cooperative federalism and empowerment of states,” he said.

Behera said MSDC has been in existence as a notified advisory body since 1997, focusing on integrated planning and development of ports and inland waterways. “MSDC should only comprise ministers of coastal states and the Union minister for ports, like the GST council…The draft Bill mandates centralisation of many routine functions to MSDC such as, conducting enquiry, deciding tariff structure etc. which will be very limiting and less efficient. MSDC’s role should continue to be recommendatory and advisory as before,” Behera said in the letter. Behera also requested that important bills are not expedited and proper deliberations are done with stakeholder states.

Source: Hindustantimes