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  • Be N By IAS, Delhi
  • 10, Feb 2021
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For: GS-3: Economy, Infrastructure: Port Sector


  • Parliament Wednesday saw the first instance of division voting in times of the pandemic, with Major Ports Authorities Bill 2020 passed in Rajya Sabha as members voted through slips in view of social distancing norms in place.


  • The Bill was passed with 88 votes for and 44 against.
  • Division voting: The idea of holding division voting at a time when electronic voting is not an option as members are not sitting at designated places initially caused some confusion.
  • Union Minister Piyush Goyal then requested that all members of Rajya Sabha be allowed to come to the House chamber for the voting, but then Secretary General Desh Deepak Verma announced that voting will take place through slips.


  • Regulation of major ports: The Bill provides for regulation of major ports.
  • It will replace the Major Port Trusts Act of 1963.
  • Major Port Authority: A board of Major Port Authority for each major port will replace the current port trusts.
  • Autonomy to Ports: In the new Bill, the government has “brought in a provision that will allow ports to take their own decisions”.
  • Tariffs: To change tariffs, the ports have to now approach the ministry.
  • “In the port sector in the last six years, we have doubled the profit. Profit has increased, liabilities have come down. For modernisation, 300 projects are ongoing,”
  • Competitive Edge: Countering the Opposition charge that the Bill is aimed at privatising ports, Mandaviya said, “This Bill is not to privatise any port, but it is to ensure that our ports can properly compete with private ports.”


  • Opposition parties Congress, the Left parties, DMK, Trinamool Congress, RJD and the SP opposed the legislation and BJD and YSRCP supported it.
  • Affect states’ rights: Many Opposition members said the legislation would adversely affect states’ rights.
  • Crony Capitalism: “First the airports were given to a friend… now sea ports… hope this Bill has not been brought to hand over ports to a friend.”
  • Singapore model of corporatisation: “This Bill is nothing but a retraction of the Singapore model… When there was hue and cry that there cannot be privatisation of ports, it adopted a policy of so-called corporatisation. Thereafter, it ultimately privatised its ports. So, corporatisation is the first step. The next in the offing is privatisation.”

Source: Indian Express