An estimated Rs 80,000 crore of private investment will be required for implementation of various PPP (public private partnership) projects identified by the Railways. The areas to be covered under PPP will include an elevated rail corridor, high-speed corridors, redevelopment of stations, logistics parks, private freight terminals, port connectivity, dedicated freight corridor, loco and coach manufacturing units, energy conservation, etc. The projects identified include the Rs 20,000-crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor, the Rs 20,000-crore elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar in Mumbai, Rs 10,000 crore for redevelopment of stations, the Rs 10,000-crore dedicated freight corridor between Sonnagar (Bihar) and Dankuni (Bengal), Rs 6,000 crore for energy projects, Rs 5,000 crore for port connectivity projects, Rs 3,000-crore loco and coach manufacturing units, Rs 3,000-crore logistics parks and Rs 2,815-crore private freight terminals and other freight schemes. A modified outlay of Rs 5.48 lakh crore has been proposed for the 12{+t}{+h} Five Year Plan by the Ministry to Planning Commission for meeting the requirements of expansion, modernisation and safety. For financing this outlay, gross budgetary support, successful implementation of PPP in identified areas and mobilisation of internal resources through conventional and non-conventional means would be necessary. Indian Railways, it is learnt, is open to foreign direct investment (FDI) in PPP projects within the overall FDI policy framework.

The Minister of State for Railways, while replying to a question in the Lok Sabha recently, however, conceded that the completion of the projects might be extended up to 13th Plan.

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Centre-State drama stalls Ahmedabad airport's warehouse

The opening of Ahmedabad airport’s perishables warehouse has been postponed, it is learnt. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) is believed to have stalled the commissioning of Gujarat’s first perishable air cargo warehouse at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel International Airport because the State Government-controlled agency entrusted with running the complex has allegedly breached the contract by calling in a private enterprise to manage its operations. The AAI officials say Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation Ltd’s move to employ Cargo Service Centre India Private Limited (CSC) violated the terms under which it was allotted 3,600 sq. m at the airport for seven years. It is complained that Gujarat Agro never declared Cargo Service’ name earlier even though it had signed an understanding with the latter in June 2010 for the management of its operations at the new cargo complex and other places in the State. The rule also says that the basic condition for which the land has been allotted on lease can’t be changed. In this case, the condition was that the land could be used only for handling perishable cargo. The Gujarat Agro Managing Director has been quoted as saying, “CSC will only handle the cargo. They are not a beneficiary as claimed by the AAI. We have written letters to the AAI chairman in New Delhi on numerous occasions in the past one year, but they are delaying it.” Yet another example of Centre-State confrontation.

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Idle fleet rising unusually since July

There are 400 per cent more container ships in the 500 TEU-plus range laid up at the end of July than there were at the end of July last year, reports Alphaliner, a Paris-based shipping consultancy agency. At the end of July this year, there were 216 units, aggregating 467,000 TEU against the end of July 2011 tally of 75 ships totalling 115,000 TEU, says a report quoting the agency. Hardest hit are non-operating owners whose share of lay-ups is 79 per cent by TEU and 82 per cent by number of ships. Only one out of five of the lay-ups are carrier-controlled as more carriers download surplus tonnage on ship lessors. Panamax ships of less than 5,000 TEU ships suffer most. The idle fleet has been gradually rising since the beginning of July, and shows a markedly different pattern from the past two years when the idle fleet only started to increase in August and September. Carriers are cutting back capacity much earlier due to the weak cargo demand especially in the euro zone areas, with the expected peak season cargo demand failing to materialise. Unlike recent years, no major new peak season strings have been announced so far on main head hauls.

(This article was published on September 2, 2012)
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