The ministry of shipping is set to overhaul the 100-year-old Inland Vessel Act, a move inspired by government’s ambitious plan to develop inland waterways.
A senior shipping ministry official said a proposed new version of the Act has been sent to the law ministry for its approval. Once the bill is approved, it will be sent to the cabinet for consent, after which it will be introduced in Parliament. The official didn’t want to be named.
The ministry expected to introduce the proposed new law in the summer session of Parliament.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) chairman Amitabh Verma confirmed the move, but refused to comment. He said the proposed law is still to be finalised.
Development of inland waterways is a pet project of minister for shipping Nitin Gadkari. Last year Parliament had approved developing 106 inland/national waterways.
According to IWAI estimates, waterways are cheaper to develop than roadways and railways. Waterways cost around Rs3 crore per km, compared to Rs5-6 crore for roads and Rs8-10 crore for railways.
The Inland Vessel Act deals with inland water limits, safety of vessels, employment, control of pollution and insurance matters, among others. Under the proposed new law, the government wants to introduce changes pertaining to the extension of inland water limits, division of work between the Centre and states and higher penalties and fines in case of accidents and lapses.