none of the port projects, conceived by the NDA government more than four years
ago, having taken off the ground, the Shipping Ministry intends to invoke a
rarely used constitutional provision permitting it to seek exemption from
various laws especially on the environment front to get Port Projects caught in
a complicated process, off the ground according to sources.
ministry has referred the provision under Article
364 of the Constitution to the Law Ministry, seeking its clarification
of how the government can issue a notification, which will help the projects
stay out of the ambit of “any law”, the sources said.
Article 364 of the Constitution empowers the President issue a public notice
specifying, “Any law made by Parliament or by the state legislature of a state
shall not apply to any major port or aerodrome
or shall apply thereto subject to such exceptions or modifications as may be
specified in the notification.”
a meeting with Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhury on August second,
Shipping Minister Nitin
Gadkari is understood to have pointed out that several
port projects were caught in red tape, especially those related to the
environment ministry. There are 12 major ports across the country, which are
under the shipping ministry with around 10 projects involving investment of Rs
10,000 crore are caught in red tape.
minister”s pet port project in Maharashtra Dahanu to relieve the pressure on
JNPT has not taken off for the past several years due environment and other
local issues. The port project as Sagar islands have almost been given up since
the West Bengal government wanted the Port to come at some other location. The
second port project at Andhra Pradesh near Nellore has been abandoned due to
pressure from an existing private port.
government announced with fanfare the setting up of an International
Transhipment Terminal at Colachel at the Southern tip of the country in a bid
to save foreign exchange since bulk of the EXIM cargo from the country’s East
Coast Ports are routed through Colombo
Port as the Mainline vessels do not enter Ports like Chennai or Tuticorin for
want of adequate cargo. The project at Colachel was given in principle approval
by the Union Cabinet four years ago but has not moved forward.
then the project site has been shifted twice but the VOC Port authorities
entrusted with the job of preparing Detailed Project Report are yet to complete
the job. Sources said while UPA government was able to steer through violent
fishermen agitations to set up two units of Kudangulam Nuclear power project in
the same region a few years ago, the NDA government is unable to push the
projects like Colachel Port despite being close to the state government.
Chennai based shipping agent said the centre is not keen on the Colachel
project and instead has been eyeing on taking over a berth at Colombo East Port
Project to serve the purpose. The job of taking over the terminal at Colombo
East Port has been entrusted to the state owned Container Corporation of India
said the notification under this constitutional provision could alter the
manner in which major ports expand and do business. “The government can look
into which law can apply and which won’t and that too up to what extent for
port projects. That will bring huge relief to the port sector. In most of the
cases proposals are caught in files and departments take long time to approve
or reject them citing different legal provision, which government those
particular ministries,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.
constitutional provision, which can speed up the clearance of Port Projects,
was brought to the notice of Mr Gadkari recently. He had asked the ministry
officials to study the provisions under the article and prepare a strong case,
which could be taken up with the Law Ministry.