Railway invites private players to set up agri retail chain

Railway invites private players to set up agri retail chain

New Delhi: Taking a step further to set up agriculture retail chain across the country, Indian Railway has invited expression of interest from interested players.

According to the proposal, the railway would utilise the surplus land for development of facilities as part of agri retail chain at non-metro stations.

“Our role in the agri business is to provide land and ensuring other support like water and electricity," a senior railway official said. “The hub will be created in non-metro stations facilitating transportation of agri products using rail network."

Though the plan to set up agri parks on public private participation (PPP) model was announced in the Budget, no significant follow up move has been witnessed on the subject since then.

“There are several issues involved in the PPP project before allowing anybody to set up the chain. So, now we have entrusted the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) to float the tender for inviting expression of interest from corporate houses and cooperative institutions. We are also expecting response from large logistic operators and retail chain operators," the official said.

“The primary objectives behind setting up the agri retail chain are to spread the gains of the fast-growing retail revolution among the farmers and rural masses and also to increase the share of rail freight traffic over medium and long distance segments," said the official.

The agri hub would cater to farmers for sending the crop to a long-distance destination safely while at the same time they would also receive seeds and fertilizer availing the retail chain facilities.

Railway’s main objective in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12) is creation of adequate transport capacity to handle the projected growth of both passenger and freight traffic and provide improved services to both segments.

Railways have a total 4.23 lakh hectares of surplus land out of which 42,846 hectares is vacant land.

The tender for agri hub will close on October 22.