With technological changes taking place at a fast pace in marine navigation, a bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on Monday to replace an over-nine-decade-old law governing lighthouses.

The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 seeks to provide for a fresh framework to establish and manage vessel traffic services besides use of the term “marine aids to navigation” instead of “lighthouse” to enable further use of modern forms of aids to navigation.

The bill, moved by Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, also seeks to rename the existing Director General of Lighthouse and Lightships as the Director General to provide a framework for establishment, operation and management of vessel traffic services.

The bill aims at repealing the colonial Lighthouse Act, 1927, and provides for empowering the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) with additional power and functions.

It proposes to incorporate the global best practices, technological developments and India’s international obligations in the field of marine navigation.

Earlier, Mandaviya had said this initiative is part of the proactive approach adopted by the Ministry of Shipping by repealing archaic colonial laws and replacing them with modern and contemporary needs of the maritime industry. He had said that the bill aims to regulate state-of-the-art technologies of marine navigation, which earlier used to get tangled up in statutory provisions of the Lighthouse Act, 1927.

The bill provides for empowering the DGLL with additional power and functions such as vessel traffic service, wreck flagging, training and certification, implementation of other obligations under international conventions where India is a signatory. It also provides for identification and development of heritage lighthouses.

It comprises a new schedule of offences, along with commensurate penalties for obstructing and damaging the aids to navigation, and non-compliance with directives issued by the central government and other bodies.

With the advent of modern technologically improved aids to maritime navigation, the role of authorities regulating and operating maritime navigation has changed drastically, the statement said. The proposed legislation encompasses a major shift from lighthouses to modern aids of navigation.

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