Parliament passes landmark Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021: Know Key Features of the Bill

The bill provides that the centre will be responsible for the development, maintenance, and management of all general aids to navigation and vessel traffic services.  

Created On: Jul 28, 2021 16:17 IST
Parliament passes landmark ‘Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021’
Parliament passes landmark ‘Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021’

Parliament on July 27, 2021 passed the landmark ‘Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021’ to repeal and replace the 90-year-old Lighthouse Act 1927.

The bill seeks to incorporate best global practices and technological developments as well as India's International obligations in Marine Aids to Navigation field in line with PM Narendra Modi's vision to make the legislative framework user-friendly and promote ease of doing business.

Union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal moved the bill in the upper house of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha on July 19, 2021 and it was passed on July 27th. The bill will now be sent to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind for his assent. 

Marine Aids To Navigation Bill, 2021

•The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 was introduced in the lower house of the Parliament, Lok Sabha on March 15, 2021.  

•The Bill seeks to provide a framework for the development, maintenance, and management of aids to navigation in India.  

•It seeks to repeal the Lighthouse Act, 1927, which provides for the maintenance and control of lighthouses in India.  

Key features of the Bill:

•The bill defines aid to navigation as a device, system, or service, external to the vessels designed and operated to enhance safety and efficiency of navigation of vessels and vessel traffic.

•As per the bill, the central government will appoint Director General, Deputy Director Generals or Directors for districts. The Director General can advise the central government on matters related to aids to navigation, among others. 

•The provisions of the bill will apply to the entire country including various maritime zones including territorial waters, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

•The bill proposes that the centre will be responsible for the development, maintenance, and management of all general aids to navigation and vessel traffic services.  

•It further states that no one will be allowed to operate any aid to navigation (including any ancillary activities) or any vessel traffic service without a valid training certificate.

•The bill provides that the centre will accredit training organisations to impart training to people in the operation of aids to navigation and vessel traffic services.

Marine aids to navigation dues

•The bill also provides that marine aids to navigation dues will be levied and collected from every ship arriving or departing from any port in India. The rate will be specified by the centre from time to time.  

•As per the bill, the centre will have the power to wholly or partially exempt certain vessels from paying the dues for eg: 

•Any government ship that is not carrying cargo or passengers for freight or fares
Any other ship, or classes of ships, or ships performing specified voyages.

•All disputes related to such dues will be heard and determined by a civil court having jurisdiction at the place where the dispute arose.

Heritage lighthouse

The bill also proposes that the centre can designate any aid to navigation under its control as a heritage lighthouse. Such lighthouses will be developed for educational, cultural, and tourism purposes.

Central Advisory Committee

•As per the bill, the centre can appoint a Central Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising persons representing the interests affected by the Bill, or having special knowledge of the sector.  

•The government may consult the Central Advisory Committee on matters such as:

(i) Establishment of aids to navigation

(ii) Additions, alteration, or removal of, any such aids

(iii) Cost of any proposal relating to such aids

(iv) Appointment of any sub-committee. 

The Central Advisory Committee can appoint sub-committees for additional advice on these matters.

Penalties 

The bill proposes penalties for certain offences for example:

Jail term of up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 1 lakh for intentionally causing obstruction, reduction, or limitation in the effectiveness of any aid to navigation or vessel traffic service.  

Jail term up to 1 year and fine up to Rs 5 Lakh for intentionally causing damage, destruction to any aid to navigation or vessel traffic services.

Important Definitions

Vessel: A vessel is a ship or boat, submersible, fishing or sailing vessel and mobile offshore drilling units.

Vessel traffic servic : Vessel traffic service is a service to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and protect the environment.

Background

The Lighthouse Act 1927 governs the administration and management of Lighthouse and Lightships in India. There were only 32 lighthouses spread when the Act was enacted. After Independence, India gained administrative control over 17 lighthouses and now that number has increased to 195 lighthouses. 

Lighthouses have been globally identified as a major tourist attraction as they are located in scenic locations and because of their heritage value and typical architecture.

However, with the evolving of technology there was a need for enactment of a new Act to provide an appropriate statutory framework that reflects the modern role of marine aids to navigation and be in compliance with India’s obligations under International Conventions.

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