Foreign vessels engaged in coastal shipping in India may be required to obtain a license from the Director General of Shipping, besides building whole or part of the vessel in the country, the Centre has proposed. The shipping ministry on Thursday issued the draft Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020, proposing the change, among others, that will encourage domestic participation in the sector.


The criteria for grant of the license may include the availability of Indian vessels, the compliance record of the foreign vessel and other factors that the Director General may decide. Further, conditions imposed may include nationality requirements for the crew of each foreign vessel that is granted a licence, requirements of the whole or part of such foreign vessel to be built in India.


The shipping ministry has also sought to expand the definition of coastal shipping and coastal waters in a bid to create competition in the sector and reduce cost of transportation. The bill, issued in lieu of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, proposes integration of coastal maritime transport with inland waterways. There is a provision for National coastal and inland shipping strategic plan for seamless integration of inland waterway routes with maritime coastal transport.


The aim here is to enable transportation of goods solely via water-based modes of transport, from inland waterways to coastal shipping routes, the ministry has proposed. “As the shipping sector grows and evolves in the country, a need was felt to have a separate legislation on coastal shipping which considers it an integral part of the transport chain and recognizes the policy priorities of the sector to meed the demands of the Indian Shipping industry,” the shipping ministry said in a statement.


Global best practices have also been considered while drafting the bill, it said. Among other key provisions of the bill is a National register of coastal shipping, which contains all information about the coasting trade of India. “Such a register would ensure transparency of procedure and aid in information sharing between the regulators and the industry and other participants,” the government said.

Source: Economic Times