Govt shelves plan to set up Dry Port in joint venture with Dubai Ports Group

Decides to go ahead through SIDCO but no firm strategy yet

Attracting Rs 1500 cr FDI fails to become reality

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 17: Over one and half year after conceiving the idea, the State Government has shelved the plan to set up first-ever Dry Port in Jammu region in joint venture with Dubai Ports Group. Now, it has decided to go ahead through Jammu and Kashmir State Industrial Development Corporation (SIDCO) but without chalking out any firm strategy in this regard.
The announcement regarding construction of first-ever Dry Port in Jammu and Kashmir was made in general budget for 2018-19 in order to attract Foreign Direct Investment and to boost local economy.
The decision was based on the long pending demand from the local industrialists, who are of the stand that such a facility would go a long way in helping the industry in reducing transportation and other costs.
In the month of February 2018, it was announced by the Government that Dry Port will come up in Samba district and the Government and Dubai Ports Group, which is operating 78 marine and inland terminals supported by over 50 related businesses in 40 countries across six continents with a significant presence in both high-growth and mature markets, inked a pact for a joint venture involving maiden Rs 1500 crore Foreign Direct Investment for setting up of inland logistic hubs in Jammu and Srinagar capital cities.
Even 100 acres of land in Samba district was identified by the Government through Jammu and Kashmir State Industrial Development Corporation (SIDCO) and it was stated that remaining 400 acres of land would be provided in due course of time. However, Dubai Ports Group rejected the site on the ground that it was around four kilometres away from the Samba Railway Station.
“Thereafter, neither the State Government identified alternate and feasible land nor Dubai Ports Group came forward for further talks on setting up of Dry Port and now the Government has completely shelved the plan”, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “due to this the plan to attract Rs 1500 crore Foreign Direct Investment has failed to yield the desired results”.
They further said, “the Government should have identified the required chunk of land that too in the close vicinity of railway line before holding parleys with the Dubai Ports Group as it was aware of this basic requirement”, adding “had this been done the time-frame of over one and half year would not have been lost and some headway could have been made in setting up of first ever Dry Port”.
Now, the Government has decided to go ahead with the setting up of maiden Dry Port through SIDCO and on the directions of the Advisor concerned 1230 kanals and 7 marlas of land has also been identified at village Forelain in Ghatti area of Kathua district. Of this, 950 kanals is State land while as rest is private land.
Kathua district administration has prepared the papers of the Government land for transfer to the Industries Department but proceedings for acquisition of private land are yet to be started, sources said while disclosing that no firm strategy has been chalked out till date for setting up of Dry Port through SIDCO.
“It would be only after completion of land acquisition proceedings that further plan can be formulated otherwise setting up of Dry Port through SIDCO would also meet the uncertain fate”, sources said while expressing inability to specify time-frame for completion of foremost formality for establishment of Dry Port through SIDCO, adding “even source of funding is yet to be identified by the Government”.
When contacted, a senior officer, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that land has been identified in Ghatti area for development of Dry Post, which will cater the requirement of almost all the Industrial Estates of Jammu. He, however, said, “it is premature to make any statement about source of funding and whether SIDCO would execute the task on its own or through joint venture”.
It is pertinent to mention here that a Dry Port also called an inland port or multimodal logistics centre, is an inland terminal connected to a seaport by rail or road. It serves as trans-shipment point in transport of export/import goods and is named so because it is very similar to a seaport in services it offer except that it is not near a sea.