The government introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to replace a 90-year-old law to pave the way for the switch from lighthouses to modern aids to maritime navigation. Union Minister of Ports, Navigation and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal introduced the Maritime Aids to Navigation Bill 2021 in the Rajya Sabha. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha in March.
The draft law on maritime navigation aids gives the DGLL additional powers and functions such as maritime traffic service, beaconing of wrecks, training and certification, implementation of other obligations under international conventions to which India is a signatory. It includes a new scale of offenses, as well as proportional penalties for obstructing and damaging aids to navigation, and failure to comply with guidelines issued by central government and other bodies.
The bill also seeks to provide a new framework for establishing and managing vessel traffic services, in addition to changing the use of the term marine aids to navigation. “This will ensure compliance with obligations under maritime treaties and international instruments, to which India is a party and for related issues …” Sonowal said as he moved the bill. The government plans to turn old lighthouses into tourist destinations to showcase the country’s rich history in navigation. It aims to repeal the 1927 law on lighthouses from the colonial era and provides for endowing the General Directorate of Lighthouses and Lighthouses (DGLL) with additional powers and functions.