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Commerce ministry working on logistics portal to prune massive costs

The logistics division of the ministry has been mandated to reduce the country's logistics cost, currently at a staggering 14% of the GDP

Subhayan Chakraborty 

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In a bid to cut India’s massive costs, the commerce department is arming itself with a national digital tool to map bottlenecks, freight movements and even toll congestions, along with a portal where businesses can procure and sell services.

The logistics division of the ministry, set up in July 2017, has been mandated to reduce the country’s logistics cost, currently at a staggering 14 per cent of the GDP.

Both the portal as well as the associated digital tool will help boost logistics infrastructure, optimise processes and aid in monitoring and tracing, N Sivasailam, special secretary at the logistics division, said.

A formal request for a proposal will be published by January for the creation and maintenance of the portal and the product itself will be launched in a couple of months, he said on Friday. The data tool will combine data from a wide range of sectors, mapping industrial clusters and infrastructure like highways, railway lines, and waterways. It will also collect trade data from major ports and compute the logistics flow of major commodities such as coal, steel and cement.

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The overarching objective is to build a comprehensive costing model so that businesses can decide the optimal use of their resources while transferring goods. “This will allow us to inform businesses whether road or rail is better for moving a particular commodity in a particular part of the country or for finding how far a village is to the main arterial road through which goods are shipped,” an official said.

It will also give data to map congestions on major highways or the average speed of delivering goods through a particular toll.

One of the unconventional usages of the tool will be to map corruption at the ground level, whereby truckers can use an app to inform the government whether police manning toll booths are charging bribes for passage.

Data for these purposes may be taken from the existing databases of other ministries like shipping, road transport, and the commerce department apart from agencies such as The logistics division will also tap into the public domain data of Google as well as those agregators and entities which legally sell data, officials said.

First Published: Fri, December 21 2018. 23:26 IST