In order to provide a greater degree of autonomy and flexibility to India’s major ports and to make their governance more professional, the Government has recently introduced the Major Port Authorities Bill in Parliament to replace the existing Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.
The new legislation is simpler and less complex and streamlines the running of major ports by reducing the number of board members required to 11-13 from the existing 19-21. The law also provides for the appointment of Independent Members for better decision making.
In future, the major ports’ boards will be able to take more decisions independently from central government. The current legislation stipulates 32 situations where central government approval is needed. The new Bill lists only eight. Once the new law is in place, the major ports will be empowered to develop and implement their own master plan for areas within port limits and to fix tariffs for the use of their assets and services.
The new Bill also makes India’s leading ports more financially independent allowing them to raise loans and seek additional capital from both Indian and foreign lenders.
The major ports in India are Kolkata, Paradip, Visakapatnam, Chennai, Tuticorin, Cochin, Ennore, Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao and New Mangalore. Most of these ports are experiencing significant growth at present. In the period April 2017 to February 2018 the major ports group handled a total of 616.6 million tons of cargo, up by almost 5% compared with the equivalent period in the preceding year. Cochin recorded the fastest rate of growth in this period, at 17.4%, followed by Paradip (+15.6%) and Kolkata (14.2%).