The growth and development of any port is evolutionary and primarily need based. The growth of ports of these islands had also followed the same pattern from British era. During pre independence and for considerable period later, hardly any port facilities existed in these islands. Soon after independence, a special attention was paid by the Central Government to develop minor ports in India.
Shri T G Ayyer, ICS the then Chief Commissioner implied the Central Government with a cabinet note that no accelerated development is possible in these islands unless landing facilities are created and as such, Port development is paramount inconsistent to Administration requirement due to geographical location of these islands. With this view the Central Government had established the office of Andaman Harbour Works in 1965, a separate Department under the Ministry for a systematic development of Ports in these Islands. However, even prior to independence, the operation of maritime Port organization was carried out under Shipping & Marine Department of Andaman & Nicobar Administration.
With the passage of time, Harbour facilities were created in almost all the important inhabited islands in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. As the work load of Marine & Shipping Department had increased considerably due to implementation of various developmental schemes, rise of traffic over the years etc., the Andaman & Nicobar Administration felt necessary for creation of a separate port authority for Andaman & Nicobar Islands with a view to ensure that the Port Activities & Shipping Activities from and to the islands and within the islands were stream lined and run in a smooth and efficient manner.
Shri. R . Srinivasan, Ex Chairman, Vishakhapatnam Port Trust and Advisor ports (Operation), Indian Ports Association was entrusted with the work of enquiring into the structural changes required for administration of Ports & Harbors in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and he had submitted his report in July’1981. Shri R Srinivasan in its report has stated that “ After taking several factors such as the volume of traffic (handled & proposed to be handled) , the size of ships to be handled, deep water facilities to be provided and the financial stability, I have come to the conclusion that the ‘set up’ should be more or less on the pattern of the Minor Ports Organization in the Maritime States of the country. In other words, I do not recommend the constitution of a Port Trust or the establishment of a Major Port under the Ministry of Shipping & Transport (as a department of the Government of India.)
Accordingly, the Government of India had taken a conscious decision to reorganize the port set up and Ministry of Shipping & Transport (Ports Wing) vide their letter dated 25th July 1983 informed that; “ The Port set up in Andaman & Nicobar Islands should be re organized on the lines of one of smaller major ports (like the ports of Mangalore & Tuticorin) and given same powers.
Port Management Board was subsequently created by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration vide their order dated 21st February 1989. However, Port Management Board, Andaman & Nicobar Islands came into existence from 1st April 1989 after bifurcation from the erstwhile Marine & Shipping Department. The Port Management Board does the planning, development, operation and administration of all the ports in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The Govt of India has notified 23 ports in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, however, the main shipping activities are carried out at Port Blair and 08 ports in other islands viz. Diglipur, Mayabunder, Rangat, Hut Bay, Car Nicobar, Katchal and Campbell Bay and these ports are notified as Wharfage ports.
The Port Management Board since its inception has been functioning like a department of the Andaman & Nicobar Administration and exercising powers delegated by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration. The Administrative & financial powers delegated to Port Management Board by Ministry of Shipping vide letter No. PW/PDW/13/83 dated 26/10/1983 were never exercised.
Govt. of India has contemplated that Port Management Board is a body like Maritime Board of any State Government and it could frame its own rules & regulations. The Indian Ports Act, 1908 is an Act for the regulation of Ports & Port Dues, legislation applicable to all Ports in India. The Central Government, except the Major Ports, as enumerated in the first schedule of Indian Ports Act, 1908 left all other Ports to the control and management of State Governments. The State Government controlled ports colloquially got the nomenclature of Minor Ports. Major Ports being subject included in the Union list of Constitution of India are declared as Major Ports under an Act of Parliament, Major Port Trust Act 1963.
As regards to the Ports in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the President of India sanctioned a separate set up of a Management Board under a notification and entrusted the work of administration of Ports and Harbours in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands to the Board and the body is like a Maritime Board of a State.
Maritime Board is constituted under a State Legislative Act by the respective State Governments called “Maritime Board Act”. Since Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a Union Territory having no legislative assembly to pass such Acts, this UT Administration, therefore, has to depend upon the Regulations under Article 240 of Constitution of India for Administration of its Ports & Harbours.
The draft regulations for Andaman Nicobar Maritime Board were initially forwarded to the Ministry in 1999. The subject issue was discussed in the 25th Board Meeting of Port Management Board, convened on 24/08/2007 and it was decided that a revised draft regulations for Andaman Nicobar Maritime Board similar to that existing in Tamil Nadu & Gujarat should be formulated and submitted to the Ministry. Accordingly the revised regulations were forwarded to the Ministry in 2009.
In the 13th meeting of the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC) held on 13-14/06/2011, it was decided that all coastal states that have not yet constituted their Maritime Board should set up their State Maritime Boards at the earliest.
Formulation of Andaman Nicobar Maritime Board regulations was once again discussed in the 29th Board Meeting of Port Management Board, convened on 18/07/2011, and it was decided that the Andaman Nicobar Maritime Board regulations framed in 1999 should be revised by incorporating the Administrative & Financial powers which were delegated to the Port Management Board by Ministry of Shipping. Accordingly, the Andaman Nicobar Maritime Board regulations have been revised indicating the enhanced Administrative & Financial powers of the Andaman Nicobar Maritime Board.
The Ports in Andaman & Nicobar Islands are spread 480 NM from North to South and therefore development & Maintenance of Ports & Harbours needs special emphasis for which the Andaman Nicobar Maritime Board (ANMB) regulations needs to be promulgated.