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World Bank submits master plan for $300-m logistics infra development in Kolkata; may also fund projects

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on November 17, 2019 Published on November 17, 2019

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra addressing a meeting at the CII Logistics Colloquium in Kolkata   -  Debasish Bhaduri

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said that the World Bank has submitted a conceptual master plan for development of logistics infrastructure within the city metropolitan area.

The proposed project will entail a cost of around $300 million, likely to be funded by the World Bank. A meeting will soon be held to finalise the plan, Mitra told newspersons on the sidelines of a Logistics Colloquium organised by CII and the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) here .

The focus will be on multimodal logistics development, including rail and road. The World Bank is also believed to have expressed interest in a review of industrial parks, logistics hubs and SEZs in West Bengal with the aim of improving logistics competitiveness, employment generation and ease of doing business.

Infrastructure spend

The West Bengal government has increased infrastructure spending by almost five times to ₹9,553 crore in 2019, compared with ₹1,758 crore in 2011.

According to Mitra, there has been a 191 per cent surge in warehousing in the State. The Inland Water Transport World Bank project, the roll-on roll-off (RORO) project, Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor, Asian Highway Project, Kaladan Multimodal Project and several such initiatives have put West Bengal and Kolkata prominently on the logistics map of the nation.

Emphasising that West Bengal and Kolkata are strategically placed in terms of infrastructure connect between India and the south-east and Far-East, Mitra said the World Bank master plan is a huge strategic jump for the State.

Mitra also launched the KPMG-CII report titled ‘West Bengal 2.0 – Confluence for logistics at the colloquium’ on the occasion.

‘Strategic location’

The report states that port connectivity, warehousing and ICDs are critical enablers of efficiency in logistical service delivery in India. It delves into how West Bengal occupies a strategic location in terms of enabling trade and commerce in the region by providing multimodal connectivity to neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh along with the bordering States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Sikkim and Assam.

The report also highlights West Bengal’s potential to become the logistics hub of India’s eastern and north-eastern regions. Moreover, it is the leading State in east and north-east India in terms of warehousing capacity.

The recent e-commerce boom and the availability of robust multimodal connectivity near Kolkata and its suburbs have made the region one of the fastest emerging warehouse markets in the country.

In order to sustain the growth momentum of the sector, the State, as well as the wider region, will likely benefit from strengthening institutional coordination to foster integrated logistical planning and development; adoption of digital solutions to improve efficiencies of logistical service delivery; exploring automation solutions in warehousing to overcome legacy bottlenecks; developing skillsets for a future-ready logistics sector and promoting agile start-ups across the logistics sector, the report said.

Published on November 17, 2019
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