RS, LS adjourned for the day amid protests
RS, LS adjourned for the day amid protests

NEW DELHI:  On Wednesday, April 5,  the government introduced the Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023 in the Lok Sabha amidst loud protests from the opposition, which demanded a joint parliamentary committee investigation into the Adani-Hindenburg issue. The bill's goal is to amend the current legislation intended to regulate activities related to coastal aquaculture.

The Congress-led opposition continued to protest while occupying the House well, shouting slogans and holding placards as the Lok Sabha was adjourned until Thursday (April 6). The opposition parties, led by the Congress, DMK, and Left, began their protests as soon as the House reconvened at 2 p.m.

Rama Devi, who was in the Chair, permititied the laying of papers and introduction of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023. As her requests for keeping up order went unheeded, she adjourned the House till Thursday.

Parliament passed the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act, 2005 (CAA Act, 2005) to create a coastal aquaculture authority and regulate operations related to coastal aquaculture in the nation's coastal regions.

The Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023 seeks to broaden the original Act's purview beyond coastal aquaculture "farms" to include all of coastal aquaculture's verticals and operations in order to promote its sustainable growth.

Therefffore it was proposed to substitute the term "Farm or Farms" with the term "Activity or Activities". Also, certain definitions in tandem with the present-day needs have been proposed under the present amendments.

The CAA Act, 2005's Section 14 outlines the penalties for doing coastal aquaculture without being registered with the agency. Under the Act, there is a provision for either imprisonment for a term that may last up to three years, a fine that may amount to Rs 1 lakh, or both.

Official sources said, the rules of imprisonment up to three years for farming without registration were seen as draconian punishments by farmers and other stakeholders, and they needed to be reconsidered and decriminalised with alternative penal laws.

Also, aquaculture is an agricultural business carried out by farmers, therefore making the non-registration illegal is viewed as unfair, according to official sources. Although the CAA Act was passed 17 years ago, it was noted that Section 14 of the Act has never been used since it was passed, making this clause unnecessary and deserving of review.

It was, therefore, proposed to decriminalise the CAA Act, 2005 by amending Section 14 of CAA Act, 2005 for removing imprisonment provisions. However, a combination of suitable monetary and other penalties have been proposed instead of imprisonment under the Act.

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