“The Government of West Bengal has increased the infrastructure spend in the state by almost five times with an INR 1758 crores expenditure in 2011 going up to INR 9553 crores in 2019,” says Dr Amit Mitra, Minister in Charge, Departments of Finance & Excise, IT & Electronics, Industry, Commerce & Enterprises, MSME and Textiles, Government of West Bengal, at the 12th Logistics Colloquium organized by CII and the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) recently in Kolkata.

The theme of the one-day event, “Connectivity for Tomorrow: Multi-Modal with better Supply Chain Network”, talked about the potential of West Bengal to become a logistics hub of India’s eastern and northeastern regions, multimodal connectivity, port connectivity, ICDs and warehousing.

Speaking at the event, Mr Mitra said, “There has been a 191% surge in warehousing in the state and the Inland Water Transport World Bank project, the Roll on Roll off (RORO) project, the Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor, the Asian Highway Project, the Kaladan Multimodal Project and several such initiatives have put West Bengal and Kolkata very prominently on the logistical map of the nation”

He emphasized that West Bengal and Kolkata are strategically placed in terms of infrastructure connect with India and its South-Eastern and Far Eastern neighbourhood and the World Bank project of a masterplan for logistical infrastructure in and around Kolkata will be a huge strategic jump for the state.

With logistical investments coming to the state due to its huge catchment area, the state’s GDP has shot up to 12% due to significant government spending on asset creation.

Speaking on the Logistics Policy, N. Sivasailam, IAS, Special Secretary (Logistics), Ministry of Commerce and Industry said, “We have incorporated most of the comments and suggestions made by the stakeholders. We are hopeful that the final policy will deliver the industry’s needs.”

Further, he adds, “Through the effective implementation of the policy, we hope to provide an impetus to trade, enhance export competitiveness, improve India’s ranking in the Logistics Performance Index to between 25 and 30, reduce losses due to agri-wastage to less than 5 per cent and bring down logistics costs to 10 per cent of GDP from the current levels of 13-14 per cent.”

Also present at the event, Ashish Gupta, Chairman, CII Logistics & SCM Task Force & Managing Director, TM International Logistics Limited (TMILL) said, “The need of the hour is to formulate an integrated logistics policy. It could go a long way in streamlining and consolidating multi-department requirements, besides facilitating corrective action, effective monitoring and prompt grievance redressal. Along with it, a mechanism needs to be created to measure the sector’s performance at regular intervals against the set benchmarks, thus, providing evidence to the policymakers so that a favourable policy environment can be created.”

Several other distinguished dignitaries who were present at the event and shared their thoughts were Vineet Kumar, Chairman, Kolkata Port Trust; Sunil Arora, President, Air Cargo Agents Association of India (ACAAI); Mike Formoso, Managing Director, PSA India; Julian Michael Bevis, Senior Director, Group Relations, South Asia, A.P. Moller-Maersk; Keku Gazder, Chief Executive Officer, AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services; Jaideep Raha, Co-Chairman, Logistics Task Force, Eastern Region, CII; Xerrxes Master, Vice President, AMTOI & Jt. Managing Director, Master Group; Samir Shah, Chairman, JBS Group of Companies & Past President, FFFAI.