India Introduces Major Port Trust Authorities Bill

India has approved the proposal of Ministry of Shipping to replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 with the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2016.

The proposed bill is expected to enable India’s Major Ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision making and by modernizing the institutional structure of the ports.

The bill is aimed at reorienting the governance model in central ports to landlord port model. The bill has proposed a simplified composition of the Board of Port Authority which will comprise of 11 members instead of the present 17 to 19 members representing various interests.

The role of Tariff Authority for Major Ports has also been redefined. Port Authority has now been given powers to fix tariff which will act as a reference tariff for purposes of bidding for public-private partnership (PPP) projects. PPP operators will be free to fix tariff based on market conditions. The Board of the Port Authority has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets including land.

An independent Review Board has been proposed to be created to carry out the residual function of the erstwhile TAMP for Major Ports, to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires, to review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to revive such projects and to look into complaints regarding services rendered by the ports/private operators operating within the ports would be constituted.

The Boards of the Port Authority have been delegated full powers to enter into contracts, planning and development, fixing of tariff except in national interest, security and emergency arising out of inaction and default. In the present MPT Act, 1963 prior approval of the central government was required in 22 cases.

The new bill also allows the Board to lease land for port related use for up to 40 years and for any purpose other than the purposes specified in section 22 for up to 20 years beyond which the approval of the central government is required.

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