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Governance

Draft Aids to Navigation Bill 2020

  • 11 Jul 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Ministry of Shipping has issued the draft of the Aids to Navigation Bill, 2020 for suggestions from the stakeholders and general public.

  • It aims to regulate state-of-the-art technologies of marine navigation which was earlier used to tangle in statutory provisions of Lighthouse Act, 1927.
  • A navigational aid is any kind of marker which aids the traveler in navigation, usually nautical or aviation travel. Common types of such aids include lighthouses, buoys, fog signals, and day beacons.

Key Points

  • Replacement of Lighthouse Act: It is proposed to replace the nine decades old colonial Lighthouse Act, 1927, to incorporate the global best practices, technological developments and India's International obligations in the field of aids to marine navigation.
    • It also provides for identification and development of heritage lighthouses.
    • The Lighthouse Act is an act relating to the provision, maintenance and control of lighthouses. It was enacted by the Brtishers in 1927.
  • Empowerment of DGLL: It provides for empowering Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (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.
  • Offences: 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.
  • Aids to Navigation Cess: Every ship arriving at or departing from any port in India will have to pay cess at rates notified by the Central government.
    • Currently, the Central government, as per the provisions of the Lighthouse Act, levies light dues on all the foreign going ships arriving at or departing from any port in India.
    • Light dues are the charges levied on ships for the maintenance of lighthouses and other aids to navigation.
  • Significance
    • Proactive Approach: The draft bill is part of the proactive approach adopted by the Ministry of Shipping by repealing archaic colonial laws and replacing it with modern and contemporary needs of the maritime industry.
    • Misinterpretation of the Lighthouse Act: It is often seen that the Act is misinterpreted by the custom department under the Customs Act of 1962 and has led to incorrect collection of a huge sum of light dues thereby putting financial & economic burden upon citizens.
    • Modern Technologies: The role of authorities regulating and operating maritime navigation has changed drastically along with the advent improved aids to maritime navigation.
      • The new law encompasses a major shift from lighthouses to modern aids of navigation.
    • Strengthening of the Provisions: The suggestions from the public and stakeholders will strengthen the provisions of the legislation. This is in line with the vision for augmenting people’s participation and transparency in the governance.

Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships

  • It is a subordinate office under the Ministry of Shipping to provide general aids to marine navigation along the Indian coast.
  • Mission: To help the mariners and local fisherman to navigate safely in the Indian waters.
  • Headquarters: Noida, Uttar Pradesh

Source: PIB

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