Now is the Time!
It is a rare moment when the entire cargo and logistics sector is on tenterhooks waiting for one event - the Budget!
To be realistic, is there any one industry, or company, or a person who is not waiting for the Budget 2014-15 with bated breath? All through last year, the country has been inundated with promises, claims and counter-claims. There is a strong government now. A stable one with complete majority, which has the capacity to take decisions, both empowering and regulatory. Now is the time when the litmus test is brought forth. Will the cargo sector get its share in the sun? Or will it be relegated to bear even more burden to generate revenues for the country, heedless of its unfulfilled needs?
There are so many issues pending with the sector. India has 7,500 km of sea coast, with a 12 nautical-mile territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles. For a country with an encyclopaedic maritime and naval history, the shipping and ports of Modern India are like the slops of a rusty bucket. Too few ports, and too few of them comparable to the state-of-the-art ones littered across the world. Archaic laws and negligence has resulted in most of the shipping trade going to neighbouring overseas operators.
Then we come to surface transport. Rail-freight has grown exponentially over the years. So have the charges. But rail-kilometres have not matched the same growth curve. In fact, India is not even the country with the maximum rail kilometres any more. Rail technology is not a subject that is raised, and of freight, none. How is that going to help increase business potential?
For roads, lesser said the better. Everyone knows, complains and moves on. That said, former PM Vajpayee’s Sagar Mala Project has been brought out into the open again. The road/rail transportational quadrilateral will boost the sector like an adrenaline shot, and there are sincere hopes that the project will see the light of day (now that the PM has set the ball rolling!)
Will there be good days ahead? We just have to hold our breath and wait.