Bengal govt planning to grant industry status to logistics sector

The West Bengal government is contemplating to grant industry status to the state”s USD 20 billion logistics sector for seamless development of various infrastructure projects, an official said on Saturday.

The state is working on framing a logistics policy and it may require about Rs 1,000 crore to implement it in the short term, PTI reported.

The Union government too has been formulating a national policy aiming to reduce logistics cost from the present 14 per cent of Gross Domestic Product to less than 10 per cent by 2022.

“The status of industry will help the logistics sector smoothly develop infrastructure. The conversion of agricultural land to develop logistics related infrastructure will be easier. Getting access to land banks, state funding, incentives and single window support will also be easier,” the official said.

On the proposed logistics policy, he said, “The West Bengal government may need a funding requirement of USD 120- 150 million (Rs 1,000 crore approx) to lay the initial groundwork to implement it in the short term.”

The authorities have suggested to set up a nodal agency, Logistics Development Council, with representation from both the industry and the government, for implementing the policy, the official said.

The state is also contemplating to earmark 500 acre of land for logistics development, out of which 100 acre may be brought out from rehabilitated land with multimodal connectivity.

West Bengal is uniquely poised in its positioning as it has the advantage of multimodal logistics capabilities such as water, roads and railways, state Finance Minister Amit Mitra had said last week.

The state government has primarily identified five prominent locations – Tajpur, Dankuni, Malda, Siliguri and Durgapur – that have the potential to emerge as logistics hubs catering to industrial areas located within 100-150 kilometre.

The state government encourages the development of a “Freight Village” in Sankrail on the outskirts of Kolkata where contiguous land parcel of over 100 acre is available with multimodal connectivity, sources said.

The state will explore tapping international funding agencies to complement its own budgetary allocations for logistics sector development, they said.

The West Bengal government anticipates a funding need for the development of the sector over the next 1015 years to fully implement the initiatives under this policy.

The West Bengal government will also give impetus on skill development to create job opportunities for women in the sector.