Indore SEZ has become a major contributor to the trade growth in the region. But Indore – the nerve centre of trade in central India is in dire need of better rail connectivity

In the last two decades, Indore has emerged as the hub for soyabean, pulses and other agro products trade in central India. The city’s strategic location and agrarian economy of Madhya Pradesh has catapulted its position as one of the fastest growing trade centers in the country. For long food processing industry has been a major growth driver for the region and even All India Dal Mill Associations has chosen the city as its headquarters. However post-setting up of India’s first green field operational SEZ at Indore, there has been a steady inflow of investments in pharmaceutical product manufacturing at the SEZ. Due to which exports from the SEZ alone has touched `8,428 crore in FY2016-2017, a steady rise of almost 45 per cent as compared to previous year. Apart from pharmaceuticals, the SEZ has also manufacturing units catering to other industries such as plastic, engineering, metal, textile and food processing. Some of the major container volume is generated by companies like SRF (plastic film), Bergwerff (soya), Flexituff (PP bags), Cummins (engineering), and Sonic Biochem (soya). In the pharma segment major operators are Lupin, Cipla, Ipca Laboratories and Mylan.

But when it comes to EXIM trade the landlocked state is dependent on JN Port. ICD Pithampur, the largest and oldest depot in Indore plays a key role for export shipments from the region. Four other ICDs (Mandideep, Ratlam, Kheda and Dhannad) serve cargo originated to and from Indore. Connectivity

Apart from Indore, other regions which generate cargo are Dewas, Nagda, Ghatabillod, Dhamnod, Sarangpur, and Pilukhedi. Speaking about infrastructure and connectivity to Indore, Abbas Hasan, Deputy General Manager, Delex Cargo India said that things have improved as compared to earlier days, and one of major development is operation of new railway station at Tehi in April, which is 20 km away from Pithampur. Earlier trains used to come up to Ratlam, due to which containers needed to be moved by road between Ratlam and Pithampur. However still schedule of trains continues to be a concern. Concor moves the train only when they have 90 teus of import movement from Nhava Sheva to ICD Pithampur, due to which there is no fixed schedule of train movement. And also there are huge fluctuation in travel time of trains between Nhava Sheva and Indore. Due to the uncertainty, many traders prefer to work from Nhava Sheva.

Export scenario in Indore

 There are two trade methods which are adapted by exporters in Indore. One in which, mostly agricultural exporters, move goods by road to Nhava Sheva using 40’ hc containers and the custom clearance procedure is done there. On the other hand, all exports other than agro commodities, and shippers who prefer to send goods in 20’ clear goods from ICD Pithampur. In case of factory stuffed goods, exporters opt for custom clearance at Nhava Sheva as cost of 40’ hc is less there while cost of 20’ is less at ICD Pithampur. To facilitate export growth there is a need to offer more port options and run scheduled trains from ICDs in Indore.