Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has reiterated the government’s commitment
to provide world class transport and logistics infrastructure in the country
within two years to support the growth of economic activity.
The Minister was addressing a session on Opportunity in Infrastructure,
Logistics Technology and Equipment at the World Food India 2017 conference in
New Delhi last week.
Mr Gadkari said that the rate of construction of National Highways has
gathered considerable momentum. The country had just 96,000 km of NH three
years back, but this has grown to nearly 1.7 lakh km, and will soon reach a
length of 2 lakh km. This will provide more farmers in remote areas with access
to markets for their produce.
The Minister further said that 44 Economic Corridors and 24 Multimodal
Logistics Parks have been planned under the government’s flagship programme
Bharatmala. These would be based on the hub-and-spoke model to facilitate
efficient movement of freight along routes of economic importance. The
Multimodal Logistics Parks are being planned as centres of freight aggregation
with warehousing, cold storage and other such facilities. These parks will be
built on NH outside cities, so they will help reduce traffic congestion and
also reduce pollution.
Mr Gadkari said that work has already begun for setting up logistics parks
in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Vijaywada, Surat and Guwahati. The Economic
Corridors and Multimodal Logistics Parks will facilitate faster movement of
farm produce to food processing centres and to markets. This will raise the
income of farmers, give a boost to the food processing industry and create a
large number of jobs.
The Sagarmala Programme of the Shipping Ministry will also be contributing
to the growth of the country’s food economy in a big way. 14 Coastal Economic
Zones have been planned under this programme. Two mega food processing parks
are being planned at Kakinada and Satara at a cost of Rs 140 crore.
Support is being given to fishermen under the programme to develop their
skills and raise their productivity. Facilities for processing, grading and
packaging of fish will be developed at Paradip Port.
In addition, 111 waterways are being developed as National Waterways. River
Ganga, Brahmaputra, Barak are already under development. Water transport will
reduce logistics costs, which, in turn, will benefit the food processing
industry. The development of rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra for transport will
also make it easier to move Indian produce to Bangladesh.
Further, the efficiency of the 12 Major Ports has been growing rapidly, and
they have been making profits consistently over the last three years. Dry ports
are being developed at Jalna, Vidarbha and Nashik to begin with. The
availability of ports will give a boost to the movement of goods, the Minister
Besides developing road and water transport infrastructure, Mr Gadkari
informed that the government is also giving priority to developing micro or
drip irrigation in the water-deficient regions of the country. 13 river linking
projects are also on the anvil, of which three will be done within three
months. All these projects will improve the availability and utilisation of
water and raise agricultural productivity, he added.