The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday through ballot votes with 84 in favour and 44 against it; the Lok Sabha had cleared it in September last year.
Union minister of state for ports, shipping and waterways Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday that the Major Ports Authorities Bill, 2020 would encourage good competition among major and private ports. He added that it would also boost port land usage and amplify competition in port tariffs.
The bill seeks to provide more autonomy in decision-making to the 12 major ports of the country- Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia)- and also professionalise their governance through the formation of boards.
Speaking to the news agency ANI, Mansukh said, “Major Ports Authorities Bill will encourage good competition between major & 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.”
Several opposition parties including the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) etc opposed the bill by alleging that it was aimed towards the privatisation of ports and depleting the powers of states with regard to land use.
Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil pointed out that 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. Echoing Gohil’s argument, DMK leader P Wilson said that the bill had been passed to serve private players and also reduce the state governments’ say in the development of ports.
Responding to all these allegations of the opposition leaders, Union minister Mandaviya said that the bill was not intended towards privatising major ports. It would rather boost their decision making powers so that they can compete with world-class ports.
Source: Hindustan Times