The Inland Vessels Act, 2021 was published in India on August 12, 2021. The Act replaces that of 1917, with the aim of introducing a uniform regulatory framework for ships on inland waterways and to ensure safe and economical trade and transportation of the vessels. In addition to the requirements of inspection and registration of inland vessels, the new legislation includes the regulations for the prevention of pollution by them and the transportation of dangerous and prohibited goods. The new act comes into effect on the date of notification by the Central Government in the Official Gazette.
The Inland Vessels Act, 2021 can be downloaded at the following URL.
Prevention of pollution by inland vessels (Chapter IX)
- The Central Government is required to designate and notify chemicals, any ingredients or substance carried as bunker or as cargo, or any substance discharged from any mechanically propelled inland vessels as pollutants
- Mechanically propelled inland vessels are prohibited from causing pollution by discharging or dumping of any designated pollutants
- Discharge or disposal of the sewage and garbage from mechanically propelled inland vessels should be carried out in accordance with such standards or manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government
Requirements for dangerous and prohibited goods (Chapter XIV)
The Central Government is required to publish a list of dangerous goods which may be carried under prescribed conditions and prohibited goods which are prohibited from being carried on any mechanically propelled inland vessels.
Background and benefits of the new Act
The Inland Vessels Act of 1917, with its provisions such as movement restrictions of mechanically propelled vessels within the jurisdiction of the State Governments, limited application and validity of certificates, and different standards and regulations in different States, had been a hindrance to uninterrupted navigation across States and development of the maritime industry. The new act was enacted to make the country more adaptable to future technological developments, to facilitate present and future trade and transport prospects, and to enable safe navigation of inland vessels.
According to the press release from Press Information Bureau (PIB) of India, the benefits of this new regulatory framework are as follows.
- Seamless, safe and economical trade and transportation of inland vessels through uniformity of rules and regulations
- Providing standards including for classification and categorization of mechanically propelled vessels by the Central Government and implementation of the provisions in compliance with the prescribed standards by State Governments
- Effective administration of the act by authorities established by the respective State Governments
- Setting higher standards including for safety of navigation, protection of life and cargo, and prevention of environmental pollution
The PIB’s press release can be viewed at the following URL