Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 that has now replaced an over nine-decade-old law governing lighthouses and provide a fresh framework to establish and manage vessel traffic services.
Rajya Sabha gave its nod which also changed the use of the term marine aids to navigation. The bill was already passed by Lok Sabha on March 22, 2021, in the last session.
Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, "This Bill will provide a legal framework for the sector to meet the latest technologies and meets the requirements of best global practices for safe and secure navigation and protection of the marine environment."
"It will provide holistic progress and development in the field of marine navigation. This will also help the fisherman and coastal and international trade, lighthouse tourism in and around," he said.
The Bill will provide for the development, maintenance, and management of aids to navigation in India; for training and certification of the operator of aids to navigation, development of its historical, educational, and cultural value.
The Bill will also ensure compliance with the obligation under the maritime treaties and international instruments to which India is a party.
It will also encourage safe aligning with the latest forecast technology and pollution-free navigation in Indian waters, Mr. Sonowal said while finishing his short reply amid the opposition uproar on issues related to farm laws and the Pegasus phone spying controversy.
The Bill also seeks to rename the existing post of Director General of Lighthouse and Lightships to Director-General to provide a framework for the establishment, operation and management of vessel traffic services.
The bill also aims at repealing the colonial Lighthouse Act, 1927, and provides for empowering the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) with additional power and functions.
The bill provides for empowering the DGLL with additional power and functions such as vessel traffic service, wreck flagging, training and certification, implementation of other obligations under international conventions where India is a signatory. It comprises a new schedule of offences, along with commensurate penalties for obstructing and damaging the aids to navigation, and non-compliance with directives issued by the central government and other bodies.