The Financial Year (FY) 2021-2022 has ended. The FY 2021-2022 was a historic year in the Ports Sector in India. The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 passed by the Parliament was notified by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India on 18 February 2021 in the Gazette of India. The Major Port Authorities Act, 2021 has come into force from 3 November, 2021.
1.2. After the severe impact of COVID-19 in the previous year 2020-21, the year 2021-2022 started moving gradually and smoothly quarter by quarter except the months of April and May 2021 when India was severely hit by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
1.3. Meetings and joint hearings with stakeholders continued in virtual form instead of physical form abiding by the Government guidelines / protocols.
2.1. AsAs a part of consultative process in regulating tariff, TAMP organized 17 virtual joint hearings during the year 2021 (from April 2021 till 02 November 2021) jointly with the Ports, Port users, BOT operators and prospective lessees of port lands as well as for other tariff cases. Such joint hearings not only enabled the Ports/ BOT operators to fine tune their tariff proposals but also acted as an effective platform for users to put-forth their views/ grievances.
2.2. The Board of TAMP could meet only 2 times in the year 2021 (from April 2021 to 02 November 2021).
2.3 However, this did not dampen the disposal of tariff cases. The Authority approved many of the tariff cases by circulation. There was no pending registered tariff cases on 3.11.2021 except one which could not be processed as was received at the fag end of October 2021.
During the said period of seven months, the Board of TAMP decided 36 tariff cases of various ports / BOT operators including estate related charges of major ports of which 11 related to fixation of lease rent of Mumbai Port. These 36 tariff cases were approved by the Authority in a record period of seven months as against target set of 45 tariff cases for the whole year 2021-22. TAMP has passed 1087 Tariff orders since its inception from April 1997. With the Major Port Authorities (MPA) Act, 2021 brought into force by the Central Government w.e.f. 03 November 2021, TAMP is not mandated to undertake the tariff setting functions envisaged in the erstwhile Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.
3. The audit of the accounts of the Authority for the year 2020-21 was undertaken by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. As per the Audit Report released by the Comptroller and Auditor General there are no audit paras on the Accounts of the Authority for the year 2020-21.
4. TAMP has observed Swachhata Pakhwada-2021 from 16.09.2021 to 30.09.2021. Since “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” is an all-time activity, the directives for cleanliness are continuously observed throughout the year.
5. TAMP celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022 and also run up to the said event from 2 March 2022 to 7 March 2022 as per the directives of the Government. During this period, office organized various events, competition, etc. showcasing and highlighting Women’s achievements and felicitated women officials
6.1. The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MOPSW) vide Gazette notification dated 29 October 2021 has notified 3rd November 2021 as the date on which the Major Port Authorities Act, 2021 has come into force.
6.2. The MPA Act 2021 provides greater autonomy and freedom to Major Ports in their decision making process and also in fixation of its own tariff. It also provides flexibility to Public Private Participation (PPP) Projects after commencement of the Act..
6.3. After the commencement of the Act from 03 November 2021, the Major Port Authority or a Committee of the Port Authority may frame Scale of Rates in consonance with norms as may be prescribed for implementation with prospective effect. In case of PPP Projects after the commencement of the Act, concessionaire shall fix the tariff based on market conditions and on such other conditions as may be notified.
6.4 The MOPSW has issued the Tariff Policy, 2021 for fixation of tariff by Major Port Authorities and Tariff Guidelines, 2021 for fixation of the market based tariff by future PPP Concessionaires after commencement of the MPA Act, 2021.
6.5 The new MPA Act 2021 along with the Tariff Policy / Tariff Guidelines issued by the MOPSW will enable the major ports to reach to newer heights in terms of traffic, service, delivery, efficiency level and provide good competition to other ports.
6.6 The MPA Act 2021 provides for constitution of an Adjudicatory Board by the Central Government. The Adjudicatory Board shall perform the following functions, other than tariff setting, namely:-
(a). The functions envisaged to be carried out by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports arising from the Tariff Guidelines of 2005, 2008, 2013, 2018 and 2019 and tariffs orders issued by the said Authority;
(b). to receive and adjudicate reference on any dispute or differences or claims relating to rights and obligations of Major Ports and Public Private Partnership concessionaires or captive users for dedicated berth within the framework of their concession agreements and to pass orders after considering and hearing all the parties involved in the dispute;
(c). to appraise, review the stressed Public Private Partnership projects as referred by the Central Government or the Board, and to suggest measures to revive such projects;
(d). to look into the complaints received from port users against the services and terms of service rendered by the Major Ports or the private operators operating in the Major Ports and to pass necessary orders after hearing the parties concerned; and
(e). to look into any other matter relating to the operations of the Major Port, as may be referred to it by the Central Government or the Board, and to pass orders or give suggestions, as the case may be.
6.7 Further, as per Section 32 of the said Act, any person aggrieved by any action of the Major Port Board while exercising its powers under sections 22 to 31 (except section 29) may approach the Adjudicatory Board. Sections 22 to 28, 30 and 31 of the MPA Act 2021 deals with the following powers of the Major Port Board:
(a). Section 22: Usage of port assets by Major Port Board
(b). Section 23: Procedure when immovable property cannot be acquired by agreement
(c). Section 24: Contracts by Major Port Board.
(d). Section 25: Creation of specific master plan in respect of any development or infrastructure.
(e). Section 26: Power of Major Port Authorities to make regulations for the purposes of planning and development
(f). Section 27: Major Port Board or committee constituted empowered to frame scale of rates and statement of conditions for
(i).Assets and services available at Major Port and
(ii). Access to and usage of the port asset.
(g). Section 28: Board’s lien for rates and power to seize and detain goods until rates and rents are fully paid.
(h). Section 30 : Sale of goods and application of sale proceeds in specified cases by Major Port after expiry of time in the manner prescribed in Section 48 of the Customs Act.
(i). Section 31: Recovery of rates and charges by the Major Ports from vessel under distraint.
6.8. Until the constitution of the Adjudicatory Board, as per the MPA Act 2021, TAMP is to discharge the functions of the Adjudicatory Board. The Rules and procedure to be followed by the TAMP/ Adjudicatory Board for discharging the functions envisaged in the MPA Act 2021 is under finalisation. In the meanwhile, TAMP has taken up the matters / references / cases received for processing. Further, TAMP provides necessary guidance, support and hand holding to the Major Ports/ BOT operators during this period for smooth transition whenever required.
6.9. Every employee serving under TAMP shall become an employee of the Adjudicatory Board. We have to gear up ourselves to ensure smooth transition from TAMP to the Adjudicatory Board. All necessary steps are being initiated in this direction. I am confident that the transition to Adjudicatory Board will be smooth and without any glitches.
7. The accompaniments made so far would not have been possible without the active co-operation of all the stakeholders, more importantly our small, but ‘dedicated team’ of staff members. I am confident that role and adjudicatory functions of the Adjudicatory Board mandated under the MPA Act 2021 will also be accomplished with the active co-operation of all stakeholders.
8. I welcome comments and suggestions of stakeholders on our functioning which will provide valuable feedback to us to effect necessary improvements within the statutory mandate and guiding framework given to us.