The Bihar Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed by voice vote the Bihar Boat-Jetty Settlement and Management Bill, 2023, repealing the Bengal Ferries Act, 1865, which was hitherto applicable in the state.
The bill, moved by revenue and land reforms minister Alok Mehta, proposes to empower the PanchayatI Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) for regulating the jetties and movement of boats used for ferrying people, animals and goods.
“The settlement, registration and management of ghats (jetties) would be vested in the collector/deputy collector/local body authority by the government as per laid down provisions. Earlier, it was done under the Bengal Ferries Act, 1865, but now the need for decentralisation was felt,” said Mehta.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Janak Singh and Sanjay Sarawgi moved amendments, saying the provision of private ghats would once again provide room for mafia. “Bihar has already been grappling with sand and mining mafia and such provisions could be counter-productive,” said Sarawgi. However, their amendments fell.
Mehta said that the new bill was the need of the hour and it has just made provision for private ghats should there be any need and it has not been created.
“It will provide revenue to the state through toll collection as per laid down provisions and also ensure safety standards for plying boats, including the number of passengers, animals and vehicles and bulk weight of other freight which each boat is authorised to carry, availability of life-saving equipment and plying schedule,” he added.