Herald: Govt silence raises queries on mega project

Govt silence raises queries on mega project

11 Jan 2019 06:15am IST
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11 Jan 2019 06:15am IST

In a compact city whose total area is approximately 21 sq kms and faces traffic issues, where is there space for a multi-modal logistics park? That’s a question that actually boggles the mind and the longer that the government delays in identifying this land for the park (or has it already been identified), the longer will the query remain in the minds of the people. Will somebody answer the question to clear the air? But, then in this case this is not the only pertinent question that arises. When the knowledge of such a project being identified in Panjim comes through a reply in the Lok Sabha, there are more questions than one can imagine.

The website of the Corporation of the City of Panaji boasts that it is the world’s smallest municipal corporation. Have the authorities conceived how much land will be required for a multi-modal logistics park? Where is the coordination between the government arms? Panjim has been picked up for development under the smart city project; will this logistics park complement the smart city or will be working against it? These are just some of the questions that arise.

The project is meant to improve the efficiency of the road freight movement in the country, for which 35 multi-modal logistics parks, including the one in Panjim, have be given in-principle approval by the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA). These hubs will be part of the National Corridor Efficiency Enhancement Component (NCEEP) of the Bharatmala Pariyojana. The parks are meant to enable optimum and efficient vehicular movement in the country and thus lead to a reduction in vehicular pollution and congestion, and enable the reduction in warehousing cost.

Strangely, there already exists what is being called a multi-modal logistics park in Goa, and it was inaugurated in April last year at Balli railway station on the Konkan Railway route. It is a joint venture between Konkan Railway Corporation (KRC) and Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) initially spread over 81,300 square metres with scope for expansion as the future growth in traffic. This logistics park, set up with an investment of Rs 43 crore on land made available by the railway corporation and handles domestic and exim container traffic, beside commodities transported by open and covered wagons can also be handled. Custom Bonded Warehousing space of 5000 square metres has been created.

A glance at the Balli facility exposes the inadequacies of Panjim as a site for such a project. Essentially such a park is meant to reduce the congestion on the road and also travel time. Panjim has neither a railway station, nor a port, nor an airport close by. How does it have the characteristics of the logistics park? With the park at Balli, the travel time for containers between Goa and JNPT Mumbai has been reduced to less than half. If earlier a container from Goa would take up to 40 hours to reach JNPT, with the completion of the container depot the journey is down to 16 to 18 hours. 

In a State where every project is thoroughly analysed and questioned, how do the authorities decide to have such a major logistics park without taking the residents of the city into confidence? There is even some ambiguity on the project. The State government has been absolutely silent on the issue, neither admitting that such a project exists or even denying it. The opposition has now taken it up, demanding a white paper from the government with all the details. Given that there has been no reaction from the authorities to the proposal that was first reported by Herald, such a white paper, should it come, will be weeks and months from now. Till then, all that the people will be left doing is speculate.K
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