The PDP Group has been in the logistics sector for more than three decades with the motto ‘moving beyond logistics’. Pramod Kumar Srivastava, CEO and Director, PDP Group, spoke to BE’s Aritra Mitra regarding the problems and prospects in the sector.
Q. What challenges do you face as an important player in the logistics sector?
A. One of the challenges in the logistics sector is that most clients are poor paymasters. Following up on payments takes up a huge chunk of time and it leads to cash flow blockage. Clients often switch over to other logistic service providers while keeping payments of their existing provider pending. Associations need to work together in eliminating such practices. The government has also brought out regulations wherein payments to MSMEs must be made within 45 days but this is not being followed stringently. In West Bengal, complete digitalisation of logistical operations and adoption of international practices are required. Logistic companies need to invest in digitalisation and eliminate manual data entry work in order to make operations more efficient. A major challenge in West Bengal is restricted vehicle movement due to ‘No Entry’ regulations. This greatly hampers the turnaround time of EXIM cargo. More government investment in public infrastructure is required to enable separate access to goods vehicle from highways to the port and airport areas with the help of elevated road or tunnel systems. The Roll on Roll off (Ro-Ro) service that caters exclusively to wheeled cargoes may also be considered from the Hooghly River to the Kolkata Port.
Q. How has the warehousing sector changed over the years?
A. After the implementation of GST, the warehousing sector has grown significantly. Things have been changing for the last three years and the government is also paying heed to the various problems in this sector. Eastern India is mainly a trading hub where the warehousing sector provides a lot of opportunities. Earlier, there was no concept of warehouses as such. Factories were converted into warehouses but now warehousing has become an industry. Several specialised warehouses have been constructed where the proceedings are being taken care of in a proper and professional manner. The concept of transforming warehouses to multimodal logistics parks has become popular after the implementation of the GST.
Q. How far has the transportation policies proved beneficial for the logistics sector?
A. The policies undertaken by the central government are essential. Unfortunately, in West Bengal, these policies have not been fully implemented by the state government. Presently, the axle weight limit has been increased for vehicles. This policy has been implemented in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Nagaland and others. Recently the policy has been implemented only on new vehicles in West Bengal but old vehicles have been kept out of the ambit of this policy in West Bengal. We have written to the state transport department regarding this issue. Another challenge in the transport sector is the lack of drivers. The recent Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative, once implemented, will ensure easier cargo transportation among these countries. The UDAAN scheme will be also beneficial for the logistics sector. However, the aircrafts used have little space, so it will prove to be more useful for perishable commodities. This will also create a lot of export opportunities for these goods.
Q. What are your expectations from the government?
A. In Bangladesh, several barges can navigate through their river routes. The Government of India has also proposed a river route for cargo transportation from Haldia to Allahabad. There have been a few trial runs till Varanasi. However, there is a confusion regarding the three metres depth in the relevant ports for cargo transportation. Once the government guarantees it, this sector will attract more investments. We have also been writing for a long time to the government offices regarding the need of a railway terminal in Durgapur, West Bengal and we are hopeful that our request will be considered soon. Investments in the logistics sector have no immediate outcome. The government should offer incentives like low interest rates in order to attract investments in this sector.
Q. What are your plans for the company?
A. With the proper support and cooperation, I look forward to building an expansive logistics park in the Durgapur region. It will be connected with ICD, warehousing, railway siding and manufacturing areas. If all these facilities are put together in one place, then export will become easier. It will also be very convenient for the industries because they would have a single window logistical support at one place. This will prove to be beneficial for zonal development. We have requested the government to allot us land for the project. Logistics is a chain and all the related facilities are required in one place.