Govt. plans unified freight transport authority

      08/03/2018

The Narendra Modi government is looking at setting up a unified transport authority for seamless movement of freight across the country’s rail, road and water networks.

The latest blueprint prepared by Niti Aayog, to be presented during a two-day global mobility summit starting September 7 in New Delhi, suggests four paradigm shifts for speedy movement of freight.

The government’s clearance hurdles hold up shipments for up to three days before they make it through the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), as against a few minutes being taken at any port in Singapore, says the think tank’s paper, ‘Strategy for Transforming Mobility’.

The proposed paradigm shifts include the need for a unified authority across sectors and modes, greater private participation in the rail sector, impetus to multi-modal freight aggregators and construction of large multi-modal logistic hubs at Indian ports. “We would like to not only leverage inland waterways, but also adopt all the technologies to promote zero-emission vehicles. Currently, rail, water and road transport are being managed by different agencies. This is not desirable in the long run,” said a civil servant involved with drafting the strategy.

The ‘MOVE: Global Mobility Summit’ will help drive the government’s goals for vehicle electrification, renewable energy integration and job growth and speed up India’s transition to a clean energy economy. The summit will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will, on the occasion, also launch the national strategy for overhauling mobility, especially public transportation.

State governments are already helping the Aayog achieve goals of electric mobility, wider renewable energy use and job creation as part of this strategy, officials said.

The think tank has already shared broad contours of the mobility policy with the states, of which 16 have constituted a task force. As many as 30 meetings across States have already been held. The proposed National Policy on Transformative Mobility aims to reduce the underutilisation of existing rail infrastructure, develop inland waterways, utilise coastal areas, develop unused air strips, among other targets. The Centre's vision for mobility aims to provide seamless, inter-modal, shared, clean, connected, inclusive, safe and economical transport to citizens across urban and rural areas.

The desired mobility, when achieved, could have an impact on the sustainable development goals, including poverty reduction, gender equality, climate action, food security, and reducing inequalities.