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NEW DELHI: Making freight transport cost efficient and run on clean energy will play a key role in India securing global competitiveness, job growth, urban and rural livelihoods and clean environment, according to a report by NITI Aayog which seeks to set out a blueprint for freight transport in the country.

The report ‘fast tracking freight in India’ brought out by the federal policy think tank and non-profit organisation RMI said India could save nearly half of cumulative energy consumption from freight transport between now and 2050 compared to a business-as-usual scenario if specific steps are taken. The cumulative energy needs of India during this period in a business-as-usual scenario is estimated at 5.8 billion tonne of oil equivalent.

To cut down this energy use by half, three specific steps need to be taken - raising the share of rail transport, optimising truck use, and promoting use of fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuels, the report said.

These opportunities will lead to lower logistics cost, reduced carbon emissions and fewer trucks on the roads, said the report. India has set a target of reducing the logistics costs as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) from 14% now to 10% by 2022, which can save up to 10 trillion, the report pointed out.

Also, India could save 10 giga tonnes of carbon dioxide, 500 kilo tonnes of particulate matter and 15 million tonnes of nitrogen oxide caused by freight transport by 2050, the report said. Also freight shipments by truck could come down by around half by 2050 from a business as usual scenario, the report said. “This new freight paradigm will also lead to higher economic growth, more employment opportunities, better public health, and enhanced logistics productivity, which will meet many of India’s development goals," the report said.

Logistics accounts for 5% of India’s GDP and employs 2.2 crore people. India handles 4.6 billion tonnes of goods each year, amounting to a total annual cost of Rs9.5 trillion, the report said.

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