Shipping ministry against dedicated body for freight village project


India may have to wait longer to have its first freight village as the Inland Waterways Authority's (IWA's) idea to have a subordinate body to undertake the execution of such projects has been junked by the shipping ministry.

The IWAI, the nodal agency for national waterways, is engaged in the execution and facilitation of multimodal transportation. It might not be able to focus on the implementation of freight villages.

A freight village is a specialised industrial estate for attracting companies in need of logistic services. It can also cluster to improve their competitiveness. The concept will bring retailers, warehouse operators and logistic service providers together. This concept is modelled on the projects that are prevalent in Europe.

"Earlier, the IWAI was of the idea that a subordinate body or wing under its aegis would be created to focus only on the freight village, but the central government is not in favour of that idea. It feels IWAI itself should do the needful," an official told.

Creation of a separate wing would have fast-tracked execution of freight villages as a dedicated body/wing would have coordinated with the stakeholders including state governments for land acquisition, a major component of such villages, and would have taken the pressure off IWAI.

The authority, on the other hand, would have been able to focus more on the implementation of waterways projects and other multi-modal transportation assignments on hand. According to an expert, a project of this magnitude would take two years for implementation. However, with no dedicated body in sight for project execution, it may take longer for such a village to come up.

"It will not delay the process as freight villages are integrated in continuity with the multi-modal terminals. These projects are not carried out in straight-jacket formats," an IWAI official said.

The freight village was also thought off to compliment the country's first multi-modal terminal at Varanasi, which is coming up at an investment of Rs 1.7 billion. It is expected to emerge as a major logistics gateway connecting North India with eastern and north-eastern states, extending up to Bangladesh.

Multi-modal transportation is the way cargo is shipped from factory to customer by using more than one means of transport.

The ongoing construction of the Varanasi terminal, which will have waterways, rail and road connectivity, is part of the government’s Rs 53.69 billion Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). However, the freight village is an independent concept and is not part of the JMVP.

It is in line with the government’s thrust on multi-modal transportation connectivity for seamless trade.