It will replace the Inland Vessels Act, 1917. The Bill will regulate safety, security and registration of inland vessels.
A key feature of the Bill is a unified law for the entire country, instead of separate rules framed by the States.
The certificate of registration granted under the proposed law will be deemed to be valid in all States and Union Territories, and there will be no need to seek separate permissions from the States.
The Bill provides for a central database for recording the details of vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal.
All non-mechanically propelled vessels will also have to be enrolled at the district, taluk or panchayat or village level.
It enlarges the definition of ‘inland waters’, by including tidal water limit and national waterways declared by the Central Government.
It also deals with pollution control measures of Inland Vessels. This Bill directs the Central Government to designate a list of chemicals, substances, etc. as pollutants.
The Bill defines such vessels to include ships, boats, sailing vessels, container vessels, and ferries. The central government will prescribe the: (i) classification, (ii) standards of design, construction, and crew accommodation, and (iii) type and periodicity of surveys, for these vessels.
To operate in inland waters, all such vessels must have a certificate of survey, and a certificate of registration. Vessels with Indian ownership must be registered with the Registrar of Inland Vessels (appointed by the state government).
The vessels must also have an insurance policy to cover liability for death, injury, or damage caused due to the usage of the vessel (including accidental pollution).
Such vessels will be required to follow certain specifications for signals and equipment to ensure navigation safety, as specified by the central government.
All accidents aboard such vessels must be reported to the head officer of the nearest police station, as well as to a state government appointed authority.
The central government will prescribe the minimum number of people that vessels must have, for various roles. Violating these requirements will attract a penalty of up to Rs 10,000 for the first offence, and Rs 25,000 for subsequent offences.
Vessels will discharge or dispose sewage, as per the standards specified by the central government. State governments will grant vessels a certificate of prevention of pollution, in a form as prescribed by the central government.
The Bill provides for a development fund which will be utilised for various purposes including: (i) emergency preparedness, (ii) containment of pollution, and (iii) boosting inland water navigation. Each state will constitute such a development fund.
The Bill empowers state governments to delegate certain functions related to non-mechanically propelled inland vessels to their local governments.