Context: The Ministry of Shipping has issued the draft of Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020 for suggestions from the stakeholders and general public.

More on the news: 

  • The bill is in accordance with the Union government’s vision for augmenting people’s participation and transparency in the governance.
  • The Ministry of Shipping has drafted a Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020 in lieu of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. 


  • As the shipping sector grows and evolves in the country, a need was felt to have a separate legislation on coastal shipping.
  • The new legislation shall consider coastal shipping as an integral part of the transport chain and recognizes the policy priorities of the sector to meet the demands of the Indian shipping industry. 
  • While drafting this Bill, the global best practices have also been considered.

Some of the highlights of the Bill are as under:     

  • The definition of coastal shipping and coastal waters has been expanded.
  • It is proposed to do away with the requirement of trading licence for Indian flag vessels for coastal trade.
  • The Bill seeks to create a competitive environment and reduce transportation costs, while encouraging Indian vessels to increase their share in coastal shipping.
  • The Bill also proposes integration of coastal maritime transport with inland waterways.
  • There is a provision for a National Coastal and Inland Shipping Strategic Plan.

The Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016:

  • The Bill seeks to bring in reforms in the shipping sector to promote ease of doing business, and develop Indian coastal shipping.  
  • The Bill replaces the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, and repeals the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838.  

Key features of the Bill include:

  • National Shipping Board: The Board will advise the central government on the development of Indian shipping.  It will have the power to regulate its own procedure.
  • Seafarers Welfare Board: The Board will advise the central government on measures to promote the welfare of seafarers with regard to the following: 
    • (i) Lodging and boarding, 
    • (ii)Provision of hospitals and medical treatment, etc. 
  • Registration of Indian vessels: Every Indian vessel must be registered at a port or place in India that has been declared as a port of registry by the central government.  
  • Rights and standards for seafarers: The central government will grant a certificate of competence or a certificate of proficiency to seafarers on the basis of service, age limit, medical fitness, training, and examination.  
  • Safety and Security: The Bill requires all ships to comply with various international conventions such as (i) the Safety Convention, 1974, (ii) the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, and (iii) the International convention for Safe Containers, 1972.

Source: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1668432

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