Our Bureau

New Delhi, July 28

CONTAINER transportation between India and Bangladesh could become cheaper by 50 per cent with Container Corporation of India Ltd (Concor) testing the waters (literally) for transporting containers using barges between the two countries.

It has also drawn up various plans that would help the company offer end-to-end solutions using multi-modal transport. The plans include intensifying its cold chain and automobile carrier project, setting up a new air cargo complex, increasing its wagon fleet.

The company plans to develop an integrated cold chain facility that would help transport fruits and vegetables for domestic and export purposes. The total cost of the project is expected to be Rs 110 crore that would include building and operating a storage facility at Delhi, and link the entire route from production to collection centres to post harvest treatment centres to controlled atmosphere stores with refrigerated trucks or vans, said Mr Rakesh Mehrotra, Managing Director, Concor.

The company is in talks with APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority), various State Governments and cooperatives for strategic tie-ups. "They are keen to participate in the project," he said, adding that these parties may fund the venture to some extent.

The company is exploring the possibility of bringing down the transportation charges between India and Bangladesh by moving containers using barges. "We would undertake a trial within two-three days by moving barges between Kolkata and Chittagong. When ships are used, they move to Bangladesh via Colombo and Singapore, and involve an expenditure of about $1000 per container.

However, barges can carry about 70 TEUs (twenty feet equivalent units) and would cost about $400 per container," added Mr Mehrotra. While ships can carry 500-8,000 containers depending on the size, the barges that ply between India and Bangladesh at present can carry a minimum of 40 containers and a maximum of 70 containers. While the bare cost of transporting containers in those barges would be $400, the total cost would be about $450. It is also in talks with Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Jordan to explore "some sort of partnership", he said.

For its automobile carrier project, Concor is in talks with road transport logistics companies for a tie-up and offer "door-to-door" transportation solutions for carrying automobiles. It has already received RDSO approval for its wagons designed specially for the purpose. "We would have the tie-up in place within a month," he said.

Concor would also set up an air cargo complex along with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd at Nasik. "The total cost of the complex would be Rs 8-10 crore," said Mr Mehrotra.

On wagon procurement, he said that the company is processing a tender for 450 high speed flat wagons as of now and would place order for another 270 wagons soon. Moreover, about 1315 wagons (costing Rs 270.8 crore), orders for which were placed last fiscal, would be delivered in September. During April 2004-June 2005, 1760 wagons (Rs 300 crore) were added to Concor's wagon fleet.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 29, 2005)
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