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Dredging the Way: Making India A Leader in Waterways Trade

Ashok Gupta stands at the helm of IRC (India) Limited as its esteemed Chairman and Managing Director, embodying a vision-driven leadership style that has propelled the company to the forefront of the logistics industry. With a career spanning over four decades, Ashok’s expertise and strategic acumen have been instrumental in shaping IRC (India) Limited into a trusted name synonymous with excellence and reliability.

Ashok’s journey in the logistics sector began with a deep-seated passion for streamlining supply chains and optimizing operational efficiencies. His relentless pursuit of innovation and commitment to client satisfaction have been the driving forces behind IRC’s remarkable growth trajectory under his stewardship. Leveraging his profound industry insights, Ashok has steered the company through dynamic market landscapes, consistently delivering tailored solutions that exceed customer expectations.

Beyond his corporate responsibilities, Ashok is recognized as a thought leader in the logistics domain, regularly contributing insights to industry forums and publications. His strategic foresight and ability to anticipate market trends have earned him widespread respect among peers and competitors alike.

During an exclusive interaction with The Interview World, Ashok Gupta, the CMD of IRC (India) Limited highlighted the present challenges in multimodal logistics within the country. Additionally, he provided suggestions for achieving success in this industry, discussed the obstacles facing domestic cargo transportation, and emphasized the need for appropriate policy interventions. Here are the key takeaways from his enlightening discussion.

Q: What are the primary obstacles facing multimodal logistics integration and efficiency in the current market?

A: Let’s begin by understanding what multimodal transportation entails. Essentially, it involves the use of various modes of transport. This could include combinations such as road and rail, road and water, or rail and water. When we consider rail and water transportation, it’s important to note that road transport inevitably becomes part of the equation because the initial and final segments of the journey typically require road connectivity.

One of the significant challenges lies in integrating road and rail networks. This integration necessitates substantial investments in developing connectivity infrastructure. In the case of road and water transport, however, the waterway infrastructure in our country is still underdeveloped. Dredging, in particular, poses a significant hurdle as it has not been extensively undertaken yet.

Dredging is essential to ensure sufficient depth for vessels to navigate, but this requires considerable effort. The Dredging Corporation of India is actively involved in addressing this need, albeit progress is gradual. Improvements are underway, but the process will take time. Additionally, the establishment of supporting infrastructure such as terminals, loading and unloading facilities, as well as the provision of cranes and gears, is imperative for the effective operation of water transport.

Q: What strategies and practices can be implemented to effectively integrate multimodality into logistics and supply chains, optimizing efficiency and streamlining operations?

A: The key to making multimodality successful in logistics and supply chain management lies in achieving seamless interoperability between different modes of transportation. This entails establishing standardized protocols, interfaces, and technologies that facilitate smooth transitions between modes like road, rail, sea, and air transport. Interoperability ensures efficient coordination, reduces delays, enhances visibility, and ultimately cuts costs across the supply chain. Moreover, investing in infrastructure that supports multimodal connectivity and fostering collaboration among stakeholders would further bolster its effectiveness.

Dredging plays a pivotal role in maintaining adequate depths in waterways, facilitating efficient navigation for ships and vessels. By prioritizing dredging activities, we ensure that channels and ports remain accessible to vessels of all sizes, mitigating the risk of grounding or delays caused by shallow waters. Through dredging efforts in waterways, ports, and harbors, India can bolster its maritime infrastructure, attract more shipping traffic, spur industrial growth along coastal areas, and enhance connectivity with inland regions.

Initiatives for dredging should be integrated into a comprehensive, long-term strategy for waterway management and maritime infrastructure development. This strategic approach must consider factors such as evolving maritime traffic patterns, sea level rise, and the impacts of climate change to ensure the sustainability and resilience of water transport systems over time.

Q: What are the primary challenges facing the movement of both international and domestic cargo?

A: When it comes to international operations, we encounter minimal challenges due to our well-equipped infrastructure, particularly our extensive network of Inland Container Depots (ICDs). These facilities efficiently handle all logistical issues associated with international cargo transportation. The majority of cargo movements to and from the hinterland are seamlessly managed through these strategically located ICDs, streamlining the process and eliminating potential hurdles.

Moreover, these depots maintain comprehensive inventories of containers, ensuring easy accessibility and efficient handling regardless of location. This means that regardless of where you are situated, accessing containers, loading them, and transporting them via rail to ports for shipment is a smooth and hassle-free process.

However, the scenario shifts when considering the domestic market, where the development of waterway transportation remains relatively underdeveloped. Consequently, progress in this area is expected to be gradual, necessitating further investment and infrastructure development to enhance domestic cargo transportation efficiency.

Q: What policy framework is required to facilitate transformation within this sector?

A: A wide array of policies has been introduced, reflecting diverse approaches. However, it’s important to recognize that this endeavor parallels infrastructure development intertwined with nature, particularly focusing on rivers, which are naturally occurring entities. The emphasis on waterways is a relatively recent development, spanning the past four to five years, championed notably by Prime Minister Modi. The aim is to optimize rivers for efficient cargo transportation, necessitating substantial infrastructure investment and dredging operations. Dredging poses a significant challenge in this context. Countries like Bangladesh and Thailand serve as examples of well-developed waterway systems. The government has begun to prioritize this sector, but substantial progress will require time and sustained effort.

Efficient Multimodal Transit Solutions_ A Glimpse into IRC (India) Limited
Efficient Multimodal Transit Solutions_ A Glimpse into IRC (India) Limited

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