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Marine Aids to Navigation Bill gets Parliamentarians nod

New Delhi: Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill that will replace 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 to the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021, which also changes the use of the term marine aids to navigation, amid continuing protests by the opposition members over the Pegasus snooping allegations and other issues.

It has already been passed by Lok Sabha on March 22, 2021, in the last session.

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.

While replying to the debate, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways 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.”

“This Bill will repeal the 90 years old pre-independence Act by replacing it. 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.”

It will also encourage safe aligning with the latest forecast technology and pollution-free navigation in Indian waters, Sonowal said while finishing his short reply amid the opposition uproar.

During the debate, Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh requested the opposition members, protesting in the Well, to return to their seats.

“Please go back to your seats,” he said, adding ” I want to allow division (on the bill) but for that you please go back to your seats. You know the rules and until you back to your seats, the division is not possible.”

As members did not go returned to their seats, Deputy Chairman went ahead with the process and the bill was passed.

Immediately after the Bill was passed, Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 4 PM and later for the rest of the day as opposition parties disrupted proceedings.

Through the bill, the government plans to turn old lighthouses into tourist destination to showcase the country’s rich history in navigation.

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.

It 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.

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