Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Indian Freight Transport Infrastructure To Undergo Japanese Makeover

Government Visit Again Sparks Up Interest in Multi Modal Projects
Shipping News Feature

INDIA - In the scramble to ensure each nation gains its share of global shipping trade there seems no limit to the variety of international alliances which are forming in the continuing competition to transport the world’s freight. China and India are perceived by many to be the most likely source of revenue for multi modal logistics operators in the coming decade and it is countries, not just corporations, who are looking to satisfy the demand in the developing markets.

India is renowned for proposing grandiose infrastructure schemes, often with results less spectacular than the original plans and dogged by red tape and slow development. A perception of ancient handling techniques and poor road and rail freight services coupled with substandard equipment and world weary go downs (pictured) have meant an historical inability to attract outside investment in the sector. The sub continent however is now perceived by many to be the place most likely to show a return in investment and the rapid growth in population is causing major new urban developments to spring up. An agreement was signed between the Japanese and Indian Governments in December 2006 for development of a Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) almost 1500 kilometres of new road, rail and air developments and links to existing ports traversing six states. The deal was sparked by the then Indian premier’s trip to Tokyo and is a continuation of the two countries original 1958 global partnership agreement.

Progress has seemingly been hindered by the Japanese insistence (and possibly the Indian reluctance) to incorporate the highest environmental standards at all stages of the project. The burgeoning population means that new towns need to be built and the traditional Indian hygiene standards are not acceptable to the new investors. Now a visit to India by Japans Prime Minister has stirred the project back to life when both Governments agreed to kick start the scheme with around $150 million to go in between them. Yesterday’s agreement with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) means the funds will be drip fed over three and a half years to the overseeing DMIC Corporation who will assess the numerous phases of each stage, place tenders and obtain approvals. It is essential to fully develop the multi modal freight corridor to enable all the other infrastructure projects to be undertaken. The aim is to have the principal developments under way by 2017 connecting all the preliminary works.

The actual freight corridor is meant to parallel the existing and improved rail tracks between Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, the main port for Mumbai after passing through Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. With offers of nuclear power technology also under discussion it would seem the Japanese see India, rather than China, the place where they can expand manufacturing operations in the coming years and doubtless Japanese thoroughness and environmentally friendly enthusiasm may assist in dragging the subcontinent into a cleaner, more efficient age.

More details of Indian infrastructure developments can be found by typing India into the Guide’s News search facility.