Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: The Union Territory administration is fast-tracking the process of raising two dry ports in Jammu and Kashmir-one each in Samba and Katra-in the financial year 2021-22, which would come as a remarkable relief to both, the entrepreneurs as well as the people.In an official meeting presided over by Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam on Tuesday, it was revealed that the Department of Industries and Commerce was establishing a Dry Port at Katra as an inland intermodal terminal directly connected by road and rail to a seaport for the trans-shipment of cargos to be traded from Jammu and Kashmir. The Dry Port will house container terminals and Customs office to facilitate exports directly from J&K.“We are planning it in a way so that all export-import formalities, including the customs, are conducted at Katra, exactly the same as done at a seaport in Mumbai or Gujarat. It will drastically cut down the costs and bring substantial relief to all concerned”, says a senior official. According to him, the UT government was in the process of identifying land around Katra in Reasi district which could be allotted to a private company with or without collaboration with Container Corporation of India (Concor), a Government of India Navratna Company.The establishment of the dry port would turn the northern India’s major pilgrimage town in Jammu into a big business hub. Around one crore pilgrims visit the holy cave shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi near Katra in normal times every year.Officials revealed to STATE TIMES that work on J&K’s first dry port had already begun at Samba where over 200 kanals of land had been allotted to Associated Container Terminals Ltd (ACTL). The company had paid premium of Rs 20 crore and started the work recently. It has laid its private rail track linking the dry port site with the Jammu-Pathankot-Delhi rail track.The company is planning to raise huge containers where it would deliver and store the goods brought through a fleet of its goods trains from different stations across northern India.The Mufti government’s plan of creating a dry port in collaboration with a UAE-based company in Kashmir has failed as the promoters demanded at least 1,000 kanals of land which could not be made available.ACTL, the first Private Sector Inland Container Depot (ICD) in North India handles sea-bound containerised cargo facilitating exports & imports. ACTL pioneered the establishment of ‘Dry Ports’ in northern India by becoming the first private ICD commissioned in July 1997 as a ‘Public Bonded Warehouse’ under section 57 of the custom act.ACTL’s main objective is to establish, manage, operate and maintain Inland Container Depots, Container Freight Stations, Container Terminals Storage Yards and Warehouses.The company constantly invests in terminal infrastructure and facilities, working closely with business partners to provide quality services at all times. With this customer-centric approach, ACTL has created milestones of success since inception in 1997. Today ACTL is seen as a pioneer in the industry and the service levels offered are considered industry benchmarks.ACTL also owns a fleet of Traliors, Forklifts, Reach Stackers, Cranes and a special 24 Axle 350 MT capacity railway wagon to carry ODC (over dimensioned cargo) for Power Projects and Fertilizer Plants. It has become the logistics arm of the Group. Its promoter RR Joshi (Shipping and Forwarding) Pvt Ltd is a licensed Custom House Agent handling Customs Clearance, International Freight Forwarding of Containerized as well as specialized project cargo, operating out in major ports in India.The Jammu & Kashmir government will set up a dedicated cell in JKTPO to substantially boost exports from the union territory. The dedicated export cell in the J&K Trade Promotion Organization (JKTPO) will work on support measures required to boost exports in sectors in which the UT has a relative competitive advantage.The cell will work as the single-point contact between government authorities and various stakeholders, an spokesman said.The export cell will also be an advisory agency for engaging with sector-wise beneficiaries and recommending welfare measures in the form of required handholding financial incentives, and product-specific assistance.Besides, it will coordinate with the Export Promotion Council, international trade bodies, FIEO, India Promotion Trade Organization, among others.The meeting was informed that efforts of the Centre and state governments are being synergised to create institutional mechanisms to promote trade with a special focus on the MSME sector which often lacks the knowledge or risk appetite to venture in the international market, he said.The creation of export cell intends to boost export potential of the districts by identifying products and export clusters in each district through District Level Export Committees, he added. This new approach not only decentralises the planning process but also puts the local producers and manufacturers at its centre, the spokesman said.The Department is also organizing various training and registration drives for traders and exporters to create awareness among them, besides proactively engaging in capacity building measures to improve quality assessment, supply chain management and logistics under a well-defined export strategy.Moreover, ‘buyer-seller’ meets are being held regularly to create business-to-business synergy, and guidance is being provided to exporters on matters related to standardization, quality certifications, export finance and product insurance, he added. The Chief Secretary exhorted the Department to undertake extensive branding of J&K’s products by developing a unique logo and hallmark for easy identification and quality assurance in the international market.
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