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Centre issues draft ‘Merchant Shipping Bill 2020’

Friday, 27 Nov 2020
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The Centre has issued draft ‘Merchant Shipping Bill 2020’ for public consultation. The proposed legislation aims to repeal and replace the Merchant Shipping Act 1958.

The Merchant Shipping Bill 2020 has been drafted with the primary aim of promoting growth of the Indian shipping industry by incorporating the best practices adopted by other advanced countries like the US, Japan, UK, Singapore and Australia.

The draft of the Merchant Shipping Bill 2020 is issued for seeking feedback and suggestions from the public. All up-to-date International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conventions/protocols, to which India is a party, have been adopted in it.

Adequate provisions are incorporated to ensure safety and security of vessels, safety of life at sea, prevent marine pollution, provide for maritime liabilities and compensations, and ensure comprehensive adoption of India's obligations under international conventions.

The bill proposes to do away with requirement of general trading license for Indian vessels, enable electronic means of registration, and grant statutory recognition to electronic agreements, records and log books, in addition to electronic licenses, certificates and payments.

It also seeks to increase India's tonnage by widening eligibility criteria for ownership of vessels and providing for registration of bareboat charter-cum- demise, thereby increasing opportunities for international trade, among others.

The Bill seeks to introduce for the first-time statutory framework for regulating maritime emergency response against maritime incidents.

The provisions seek to provide for time effective implementation of response mechanisms in order to ensure that the same is prevented from becoming a wreck or other catastrophic event. Provisions for repatriation of abandoned seafarers have been enhanced, in line with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) regulations.

The Bill seeks to provide increased opportunities for investment and provide greater impetus to a self-reliant domestic investment climate in the maritime industry.

The provisions regulating maritime education, training, certification and recruitment and placement of seafarers and ease of registration of ships under the Indian flag will give an impetus to the quality and quantity of Indian seafarers.

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