How Industry Status can provide impetus to West Bengal’s Logistics Ecosystem

West Bengal
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The gateway to the east and north-east India, West Bengal has been on its toes to come up with new transformations to make an integrated logistics network in the state. West Bengal, which enjoys its unique position, recently made headlines with its proposed logistics policy for the state and contemplation regarding granting industry status to the state’s logistics sector. In the following story, we explore the opportunities that await, the multimodal capabilities, the hiccups faced by the state in leveraging its unique position, the industry’s expectation from the recent developments, and much more.

West Bengal- the hotbed of the Indian independence movement- became India’s 4th largest economy post- independence with a GSPD of USD 155.32 billion. The state at present enjoys a consumer base of over 90 million inhabitants and its strategic location is a gateway to the entire east and north-east India. To further thrive the state, the West Bengal government has made endeavours towards the logistics sector of the state.

The logistics sector is a prime driver for GDP, international trade, FDI, and
employment generation- thus, a thrust area for any government. The steps taken by the state government to transform West Bengal’s logistics network into an integrated one has driven the state into emerging as a logistics hub with the potential size of the states’ logistics sector estimated at around USD20 billion.
On August 15, 2020, the West Bengal government announced that it is
contemplating to grant industry status to the state’s USD20 billion logistics sector for the seamless development of various infrastructure projects.

EXPLORING THE UNIQUE POSITION AND MULTIMODAL CAPABILITIES OF THE STATE

The state enjoys its unique position, which enables trade and commerce in the region and provides multimodal connectivity to neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, South East Asian countries, and the bordering states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Sikkim, and Assam.

Speaking of West Bengal’s multimodal connectivity, the state has the 3rd largest road network in the nation and is leading rail network density including the second largest Metro Rail network in the country. Furthermore, it also has two international Airports in Kolkata
and Bagdogra along with the first private sector Greenfield airport of India operational at Andal.

“West Bengal has put its muscle behind improving its rail and road infrastructure. The potion of inland waterways in terms of desilting
is being explored. There are logistics hubs and industrial parks being promoted across the state. There have been major investments in
container handling and bulk handling ports.”

~Sandeep Chatterjee, Associate Director, Deloitte

THE STATE IS LEADING IN TERMS OF SPREAD, DENSITY, AND REACH OF INLAND WATERWAYS

As per a report by KPMG, West Bengal has the advantage of having an inland waterways route with a waterfront of 950Kms which is close to 16% of the total National Waterways length, good roads, and railway Infrastructure in connecting the hinterlands.

“The Central Government’s policy of promoting inland waterways will augur well for Bengal in moving goods seamlessly to the
North East. Moreover, with two existing major ports at Kolkata and Haldia, along with two upcoming deep-sea ports at Tajpur and Kulpi, the state is all geared up for a big push in the maritime sector.”

~Prabal Basu, Chairman & Managing Director, Balmer Lawrie & Co ltd.

Moreover, West Bengal enjoys the largest warehousing capacity in the eastern part of the country as well as the second-largest coldstorage capacity in the country. The state ICD is well connected to ports via road and railway networks.

Mr Basu informs that a greenfield ICD is being developed at Siliguri in order to cater to growing container volumes in the state. This ICD is expected to support the movement of export-import cargo traffic for the NorthEastern states and neighbouring landlocked countries of Nepal and Bhutan.

This is an abridged version. To read the full story, click here.

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