The PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan was announced last year with an aim to break departmental silos and bring in more holistic and integrated planning and execution of projects with a view to address the issues of multi-modal and last-mile connectivities. With more than six months gone by, things seem to be moving in the fast-track. While any concrete update is too soon to be delivered at this point in time going by the mammoth project that this is, we spoke to industry veterans and analysts on the prospects & possibilities that this ambitious project holds and what's in store for the supply chain fraternity. Here's the special report capturing their insights & strategies that companies are adopting to play an enabling role in this ambitious project...
Infrastructure planning, implementation and monitoring will get a new direction from PM Gati Shakti. This will also bring down the time and cost overrun of the projects," Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing a post-budget webinar on vision of 'Gati Shakti'. The PM Gati Shakti will also ensure true public-private partnership in infrastructure creation from infrastructure planning to development and utilization stage, he added.
Emphasizing on the importance of PM Gati Shakti initiative, he said in 2013-14, the direct capital expenditure of the Government of India was about Rs.2.50 lakh crore, which has increased to Rs.7.5 lakh crore in 2022-23. Strengthening the principle of cooperative federalism, our government has made a provision of Rs.1 lakh crore for the assistance of the states in this year's budget. State governments will be able to use this amount on multimodal infrastructure and other productive assets, the PM said adding the National Ropeway Development Programme will help improve connectivity in the inaccessible hilly areas.
He informed that in the PM Gati Shakti - National Master Plan, "more than 400 data layers are available now, informing not just the existing and proposed infrastructure but also information about the forest land and available industrial estate". He suggested that the private sector should use it more and more for their planning and said that all important information regarding the National Master Plan is now available on the single platform. "Due to which it will be possible to get project alignment and various types of clearances at the DPR (detailed project report) stage itself. This will also be helpful in reducing your (industry's) compliance Burden," he said, suggesting states to make PM Gati Shakti - National Master Plan base for their projects and economic zones.
He added the logistics cost in India is considered to be 13-14% of GDP and this is more than other countries. The PM Gati Shakti has a huge role in improving infrastructure efficiency. Over 24 digital systems of six ministries are being integrated through Unified Logistic Interface Platform (ULIP) and this will create a National Single Window Logistics Portal that will help in reducing the logistics cost. "Our exports will also be greatly helped by PM Gati-Shakti and our MSMEs will be globally competitive," he added.
Hailing the launch of this momentous initiative, Cyrus Katgara, Partner, Jeena and Company, stated, "Gati Shakti Plan is fundamentally a digital podium to bring Railways, Roadways, Highways and other industries together for consolidated planning and synchronized implementation for all the mega Infrastructure connectivity projects in India. The work on the master plan has been going on in full swing and we could see the positive impact on the construction of National highways and the initial work done like land acquisition, land use analysis and road connectivity etc for the development of air cargo terminals."
Seconding his views, Mahendra Shah, Managing Director, V-Trans India Ltd., added, "Through Gati Shakti project, we have started experiencing seamless movement of cargo in some part of country. It is helping us in route optimization. With the announcement of 25,000 km of new highways, the Gati Shakti Master plan will boost new warehousing and logistics facilities across the country."
The core purpose of Gati Shakti is coordinated effort. Hence, focus on one piece over others is not the intention by design. The key tangible outcome will be projects which get executed by any agency will have support from others to minimize ramp up time for projects, maximize gains and ensure prioritization, stressed Sudeep Mehrotra, Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal. Agreeing on the same, Prahlad Tanwar, Partner, Global Head - Logistics & Postal Services, KPMG in India, informed, "The ethos of the PM Gati Shakti initiative enables informed decisions on planning and executing initiatives. In an ideal state, the platform should enable various initiatives to be addressed in parallel given specific ministries and states will continue to be accountable for execution. However, from an economic allocation perspective, the development and maintenance of roads is likely to continue to remain the primary focus given the overwhelming reliance of the Indian economy on this mode. Up gradation and enhancement of rail networks would also be important."
Cyrus Katgara, on his part, highlighted,"The government has rightly prioritized the road infrastructure as a first step of enhancing logistics infrastructure in India. As per the official numbers, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has completed 1,41,190 km of National Highways, on 31st March 2022, out of the set target of 2,00,000 km for 2024-25. Simultaneously, the work on Airports, Seaports and other engines of the Gati Shakti Master plan is also on target."
According to Anshul Singhal, Managing Director, Welspun One Logistics Parks, "The Gati Shakti plan was introduced to bring 16 ministries, including road and rail, for integrated planning and implementation of infra connectivity projects. The logistical infrastructure in the country is heavily connected, hence, having a multidirectional focus is the way to go about it. For us as warehousing developers, the increased focus on the construction of expressways and corridors are key. Under MoRTH, we have already witnessed an improvement in connectivity around the country, thanks to some of the major key infrastructure projects under construction currently which include the Zojila Tunnel in Ladakh, roads to connect Krishnapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh, a major bridge over the Middle Strait Creek in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, two-lanes expansion of Lalpul-Manmao changing road in Arunachal Pradesh, and more. With MoRTH plan to develop a total of 22 Greenfield Expressways, 23 other major infrastructure projects and other highway projects as well as 35 Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs), the government largely looks to be progressing in the right direction."
PROGRESS MADE SO FAR
If the recent news is to be believed, infrastructure gaps have been identified in around 130 critical projects during the first six months of the flagship Gati Shakti Mission. The Union Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways has recognized about 80 projects so far. Similarly, the Steel and Coal ministries have to address issues prevalent in 38 and 13 projects respectively. Apparently, over 1300 projects are set to be onboarded to the National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) by 2024. 850 of them have been mapped on it until now. The intention is to reduce delays, cost and time overruns to expedite India's progress towards achieving a $5 trillion economy. Work is required on the ports road linkages to the Machilipatnam Port, Mundra and Dahej ports, Keni-Belekeri port along with links to Malpe, Padubidri and Hangarkatta. The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways along with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) are the implementing agencies for these projects.
According to Sudeep Mehrotra, "These are early days, and the jury is still out. The listing of likely projects is being done. The modalities of coordination are being worked out. The intent and push from the government side is clear. The initiative may take 2-4 quarters for real benefits to be visible.
Seconding his thoughts, Prahlad Tanwar, highlighted, "The institutional framework and objectives for PM Gati Shakti have been rolled out to states and ministries concerned. Several ministries have identified the projects that will be a part of the PM Gati Shakti program and have begun prioritizing them. For example, Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways has identified 101 projects estimated to cost approximately Rs.62,627 crore, of these nine projects are categorized as high impact projects worth Rs.1,913 crore to be completed within this fiscal year. In parallel, the states are developing state master plans by integrating state level data into the BISAG-N GIS portal. Certain states have progressed to prepare a roadmap for implementing state master plan and working on capacity building."
Giving industry inputs, Anshul Singhal, said, "From its launch until now, there has been significant progress in the Gati Shakti plan, both on ground and across departments. Out of the targeted 2,00,000 kms, the ministry of road transport and highways has completed the construction of 1,41,190 km of National Highways, while the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has laid down 20,000 km of gas pipelines. It is worth noting that the Northern region of the country has also made significant progress under PM Gati Shakti NMP. Under the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase I, MoRTH, through its implementing agencies - NHAI, NHLML and NHIDCL - have kept pace with the work of implementing 35 MMLP projects that have been identified for development. Furthermore, the Multi-Modal Logistics Park at Jogighopa, Assam, which is being developed in partnership with the state government of Assam as equity stakeholder in the project SPV, is already under construction.
EXPECTED TANGIBLE GAINS
The Gati Shakti National Master Plan holds the potential to transform Indian infrastructure and our ability to compete with the world's leading economies. In many ways, the initiative will be an inflection point in the history of our nation, highlighted Mahendra Shah. Gati shakti National Infrastructure Plan will help generating employment, attract investment and boost GDP growth. The Multi-Modal connectivity will ease connectivity across India seamlessly.
Currently, logistics and supply chain costs account for 12-13% of the GDP as compared to the global average of 8 percent. This makes exports uncompetitive and impedes the PM's 'Make in India' dream. To add to that, the pandemic emphasised the role of the road network across all three delivery miles. Development of MMLPs is expected to help address these high costs by enabling use of multi-modal transport for long lead transport and improving rail-based freight movement. The Master Plan is expected to reduce the logistic costs, cut turnaround time, and improve the cargo handling capacity by reducing the clutter in the system and improving the infrastructure.
For Sudeep Mehrotra, the biggest benefit will be that projects will be designed better to meet future needs with all stakeholders in alignment. The other benefit will be the effort required for projects to deliver maximum value will be minimized. Hence, as a country, we will realize maximum value on every rupee spent.
Cyrus Katgara opined, "The government's aim is to cut the logistics cost down to 8% of the country's GDP. As of 2022, the logistics cost is considered to be 13-14% of India's Gross Domestic Product which is very high compared to other countries. I am optimistic that the logistics cost would cut down to 10% by 2027."
Agreeing on the same, Anshul Singhal, avowed, "Looking at the bigger picture, the prime motive to achieve through the Gati Shakti plan is to increase the country's GDP and bring India's logistical infrastructure upto global standards. The aim is to reduce logistics costs from 13-14% of India's GDP to approx. 8-10% observed by developed countries. With the government focusing on allocating funds to develop multi-modal logistics parks to boost logistics efficiency, costs and time for transportation will significantly go down. Also, MMLP would be incorporating cutting-edge facilities with smart technologies that will address the long-standing last-mile delivery difficulty, allowing shippers to choose between different modes of transportation. The MMLP projects will also help create over 2 lakh job opportunities."
PRIVATE PLAYERS PLAYING AN ENABLING ROLE
Offering an analyst's perspective, Sudeep Mehrotra offered three-pronged strategy for companies to play an enabling role in this journey. These include:
Help the government with trade insights and requirements so that right design can be coordinated
Invest along with the government by allocating some part of capital budgets to long term futuristic projects
Push for standardization as new infra gets created so that it also changes the way we operate from world-class infra.
According to Prahlad Tanwar, "Government of India is promoting public-private partnerships (PPP) as an effective tool for bringing private sector efficiencies in creation of economic and social infrastructure assets and PPP will be an important success driver for PM Gati Shakti. Logistics services and infrastructure providers will have a pivotal role to play in developing and operating logistics assets such as multimodal logistics parks, free trade zones, warehouses, and port terminals in conjunction with driving supply chain design and developing industry and customer specific solutions."
From the industry's side, Cyrus Katgara, stated, " Logistics players can surely help the government by including sustainability in their operations or by going green. We all must switch to alternate fuels like EVs, CNG and contribute to reducing the carbon footprint. It will help the government's key initiatives, including the Gati Shakti Plan, Sagarmala Programme, GST reduction, and NMP, to name a few. Secondly, logistics companies through their respective trade associations should recommend process improvement plans, discuss growth opportunities, and trade bottlenecks with the relevant ministries and jointly work with them to expedite the development of the entire industry."
Anshul Singhal is of the view that having access to industry experts and developmental experience, the partnership between private players and the government will help expedite the progress of the project. Building Multi modal logistics parks requires knowledge and domain expertise that can be achieved via a partnership with developers.
On these lines, talking about their plans, Mahendra Shah informed, "We are very small part of total logistics network of India, but as a company, we always support mega projects like Gati Shakti. As far as V Trans is concerned, we are working on these initiatives to support the government in realizing this objective." These include:
Opening new branches within government logistics park and hub in tier II & III cities, which will essentially generate more employment as well as offer business partner proposal for new franchisee opportunity.
Improve existing network infrastructure by increasing axle loads, increasing vehicles on road, add more vehicles specifically CNG and electrical vehicles with an aim to support sustainability.
Identify and optimize new route for time-sensitive cargo
Ensure better modal integration across rail, road, and water.
SHAPING THE SUPPLY CHAIN INFRA LANDSCAPE
During a recent conclave, Som Parkash, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, was quoted as saying, "India is one of the most attractive destinations for investment in the world and the government has prepared some important frameworks to help businesses thrive in the country. One of them is the PM Gati Shakti masterplan and its implementation, which will help us to achieve our aim in logistics efficiency. Prime Minister Gati Shakti National Master Plan will help achieve India's aim of a US$5 trillion economy."
"An infrastructure master plan will make a difference through an integrated approach by breaking the entrenched silos over six years, which has received a Rs 20,000 crore allocation in this year's budget. Propelled by seven engines - roads, railways, airports, ports, mass transport, waterways, and logistics - PM Gati Shakti is an idea whose time has come," added the minister.
Adding on to the same, Sudeep Mehrotra, stated,"The key benefit of Gati Shakti will be the coordination it is expected to bring between various agencies responsible for infrastructure spending in the government both at central and state levels. This comprehensive approach is likely to result in maximization of utility that these projects deliver. For e.g. If an MMLP is being developed by DFC, it will likely be supported by NHAI for connectivity and state governments for land acquisition. The alignment of direction and prioritization will be the key benefit. In addition, nodal agency is likely to have better resources to improve decision making in design of projects."
On a promising note, Anshul Singhal, concluded, "The PM Gati Shakti plan is aimed at giving the Indian infrastructure a modern direction by creating a single window system to plan, coordinate and monitor projects. A key problem that it aims to address is the lack of coordination among stakeholders that would arise due to the lack of information shared with various departments, which included both government and private institutions across states. Now, with access to information, everyone will be able to develop projects at a faster pace leading to optimum utilisation of resources. The plan also aims to ensure that a partnership between public private players in infrastructure is established at every stage from planning to execution of projects. Development based on infrastructure also ensures there are new employment opportunities which can boost the Indian economy. The 24 digital systems of six ministries are being integrated through the Unified Logistic Interface Platform (ULIP) and this will create a National Single Window Logistics Portal that will help in reducing the logistics cost."