Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill that seeks to provide greater autonomy in decision-making to 12 major ports in the country and professionalise their governance by setting up boards. The Major Ports Authority Bill, 2020 was passed through ballot votes with 84 in favour and 44 against it in the Rajya Sabha.
The Lok Sabha had on September 23, 2020 passed the bill. Allaying fears of members, Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Mansukh Mandaviya categorically said it was not intended towards privatisation of major ports and rather aimed at boosting their decision-making powers in order to compete with private ports. The bill aims to provide for regulation, operation and planning of major ports in India and to vest the administration, control and management of such ports upon the boards of major port authorities and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, be taken into consideration. Taking a strong objection to some members remarks that it would result in ruining of the ports, the Minister said rather it would turn them into world class ports and enable board to take decision on their own.
In terms of volume, 70 per cent of cargo movement is through ports while 90 per cent in value terms. India has 12 major ports — Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia). These together had handled 705 million tonnes (MT) of cargo in 2019-20.