Integration for transport and logistics
Afew years ago, it was identified by the Planning Commission that the main challenge is to have a coordinated and integrated approach to transport planning. The coordination will ensure that competition is not wasteful, and that network effects develop in an environment of complimentary compatibility. Such an integrated approach inherently entails the following aspects: Integrating the planning for different modes in synergy with each other, and allocating to each mode the traffic in accordance with its niche domain of cost advantage, rather than stand-alone system for mode-specific funding. These would necessarily involve an understanding of the transportation market, reason for system failures and the need and scope for government intervention. Initiatives in this direction may also interalia include fiscal measures like taxation, user charges, etc and nonfiscal measures like positive inducements of facilities, services and incentives. Driven by the forces of technological innovations and progressive globalisation of its business profile, the Indian economy has undergone a paradigm shift during the period. Accordingly, relevant to the transport sector, these changes broadly include infrastructure and technological developments associated with growth in performance levels of different modes of transport. As a first step, a state-wise list of check-posts around major cities, industries, ports, etc. were identified using cordoning approach aimed at capturing an optimal sample of interregional traffic. Their physical sites were firmed up in consultation with officers of the PWD and Departments of Economics and Statistics of the related State Governments, taking into consideration the operational convenience e.g. adequacy of space for parking of goods vehicles on either side of the road, so as to cause minimum disruption to traffic. In meeting the above requirements, efforts have been made to use suitable alternative sites like Octroi, Excise, Sales Tax and Toll Gate checkposts for trucks/other goods vehicles. Unfortunately, the industry still experiences tremendous hurdles on national highways, resulting in huge transit time and transaction costs. The same has put Indian logistics under serious pressure. In absence of a nodal agency (maybe a logistics board or a separate ministry for logistics), the industry is now a nobody’s baby. The sooner an integrated initiative is taken not only for transport, but also for logistics industry at large, the better the national economy will grow as per its potential. It is therefore of significance that both the Planning Commission and industry bodies are thinking seriously in this direction.