A K Banerjee : AN INTERFACE WITH MANAGING DIRECTOR CONCOR

Anil K. Gupta Managing Director CONCOR is a professional transport sector specialist, with vast experience in rail related multi-modal transportation. He was with Indian Railways as a Traffic Transportation officer till 1989 when he joined CONCOR in its inception year. He has been involved in almost all the developmental planning and operational activities related to multi-modal carriage and handling of export, import and domestic cargo at the various dry port terminals being managed by CONCOR and those commissioned during last 15 years (number growing from 7 in 1989 to 62 in 2012) and was also associated in negotiations with national and international financial institutions like World Bank etc. Anil K  Gupta has done numerous national and international consultancies, Research Works and has lot of Publications to his credit His other significant participation has been in UN ESCAP's international project for ‘Development of The Trans-Asian Railway’ as Indian Multi-modal expert.  In an Interview with A K Banerjee Chief Editor RTT, the MD CONCOR shared his views on the working pattern, vision, achievement, shortcomings as well as steps taken by the CONCOR to facilitate the trade to clear the cargo smoothly and efficiently.

CONCOR was set up in 1988 by the Indian railways keeping in view the fact that rail transport could be a cheaper option for all cargo over medium and long distances, especially if the cost of inter-modal transfers could be reduced. Containerized multi-modal door-to-door transport provided the ideal solution to this problem. What are your views regarding the success since the inception of CONCOR particularly in respect of ICD Tughlakabad.

It is correct that CONCOR was set up to provide multimodal logistics solutions to EXIM & Domestic Trade and it has been quite successful in that. Over the years, the business has increased Manifold, with throughput levels going up from a meager level of 15,000 TEUs in the first year of its operation to over 2.6 million TEUs now. The company has developed a wide network of 62 terminals across the country and acquired over 225 high speed container flat rakes besides state of the art handling equipment to facilitate trade. Besides, it has also led to spearheading of container revolution in the country. As regards ICD Tughlakabad, it is the Star terminal of CONCOR and has been well patronized by Trade. Its business has grown with Trade reposing full faith in CONCOR over the years.  The terminal continues to handle more than 4 lakh TEUs per annum on a sustained basis for last 7 years. 

According to the rules of the Ministry of Finance, GoI, the custodian of ICD Delhi i.e.  CONCOR, — are supposed to strictly adhere to certain guidelines like the custodian should provide safe, secure and spacious premises for loading/unloading/storing of the cargo. Custodian shall provide sufficient modern handling equipment in operational condition for handling the containers and cargo in the area; Insurance of all goods held in ICD/CFS, except those goods which have already been insured by the exporters/importers, shall be made by the custodian. The custodian shall make adequate arrangements for sanitation facilities, water supply and other allied facilities, including canteen facility, for the officers working in the area. The sanitation facility at the ICD is pathetic. It is also perceived that CONCOR is grossly violating most of these guidelines.  Is it a mere perception or fact?

The premises at ICD/ TKD are enclosed by a Boundary wall of sufficient height. Entry/ Exit points and the entire ICD premises are guarded by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) round the clock.

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CONCOR has provided adequate number of modern container handling equipment like Reach Stackers and Gantry cranes in ICD/ TKD. Toilets are available inside the ICD and Administrative building and these have been spruced up recently. Drinking water arrangements have been augmented and 04 no. borewells, 07 no. industrial RO systems and water coolers have been installed in the recent past. CONCOR constantly strives to upgrade its infrastructure at ICD/ TKD. CONCOR has spent Rs. 40 crores on infrastructure development during last three years.  Following infrastructure has been created/ upgraded:

•           Cement Concrete parking (80,000 sq. mtrs.) for 800 trailers/ New gate complex

•           Refurbishment of Administration building

•           Construction of new transporter building

•           Renovation of toilets with replacement of new sanitary fixtures and provision of glazed tiles.

•           New hall for CHAs

•           Canteens are now  being run by Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)

•           New Export warehouse has been constructed

•           CCTV monitoring at Gates/Warehouses has been introduced which is being augmented further at a cost of ` 76 lakhs.

•           Cement Concrete surface (90,000 sq. mtrs.)  has been done in empty parks, roads

All cargo in custody of CONCOR including in transit are insured at all ICDs. However, the maximum liability of claim is at the rate of Rs. 50 per kg as per our terms of carriage with the customers which have been clarified to trade. There is also an arrangement of higher claim values subject to payment of excess charges.

A comparison of the work of CONCOR can easily expose the loopholes in its functioning as the entry point provided by CONCOR at ICD Tughlalakabad is mostly choked with containers, making movement of all vehicles very difficult.

Clear streams have been identified for different categories of movement of trailers and light vehicles. The vehicle movement is being monitored round the clock by a team of CONCOR and security staff. Instances of traffic jams and choking at entry points to ICD are now seldom. When ICD opens after holidays or on Monday, there is a queue of vehicles at in-gate. This is because the vehicle entry permit is required to be issued after clearance from Customs on Monday morning. This queue is temporary and is cleared by noon. On an average approximately 2000 vehicles move in and out of ICD/ TKD per day.

CONCOR is yet to effect any changes in their labour policy thereby, leaving the laborers in the lurch in case of any eventuality. The firm’s officials never bother to ensure if the containers are kept safely and that they pose any danger to anybody. A number of accidents have taken place at ICD Tughlakabad in which many Laborers had died yet the CONCOR never bothered to file FIR and even paid any compensation to the family of the laborers just to avoid its inefficiency.  

Utmost care is being taken in ICD for placing containers in stacks.  Special training sessions and safety drives for operators are organized to instill a feeling of safe working in them.  The labour working in the ICD is private labour.  This is as per orders of Government of NCT of Delhi, which has prohibited CONCOR from employing contract labours for de-stuffing/stuffing of containers in ICD Tughlakabad.  The private labour has been advised to restrict themselves to their working place and not enter the operational areas. There have been no casualty at ICD TKD in the recent past.

Something that could jolt CONCOR out of its lethargy and inefficiency is the entry of other private players — like the Adani Group and World Window who are providing stiff professional competition to CONCOR despite the fact CONCOR has huge funds as well as the huge profit it is earning regularly. Why it is so that the private players are snatching the business of CONCOR and are providing better facilities than CONCOR?

CONCOR has always believed in healthy competition and takes pride in always following ethical and transparent practices. It is not correct to say that one operator is snatching the business of another.  In today’s world, customer wants efficient and economical services and will give business to that Operator who provides such service.  We have, in fact, deliberately restricted the handling of ICD/TKD to handle around 4.3 lakh TEUs as higher throughputs will put strain on facilities and affect level of services to existing users. we can increase this if we are provided more land on Anandmayee Marg stretch for parking more vehicles. As regards Adani Group and World Windows, they are getting traffic from their catchments and we have no trouble with that except that part of traffic which is being forced to go to these facilities on account of some of the liner's insistence for other considerations over which a body like CONCOR can have no control.  All the same CONCOR believes in cooperation and not competition.  The reduction of logistics costs of customers is foremost in its heart. 

This proxy arrangement of labour still continues with CONCOR, which remains least interested in bringing about any improvement in status quo.

As you are aware, the Government of NCT of Delhi had prohibited the employment of contract labour in the work of stuffing and destuffing of containers in ICD Tughlakabad. CONCOR has challenged this in Court and the matter is subjudice. Therefore, CONCOR does not engage labour for carrying out stuffing and destuffing activities in ICD/ TKD. These activities are being managed by shippers on their own through private labour.

Six to seven fire accidents have occurred within a span of five years in ICD Tughlakabad despite fire fighting apparatus available in ICD Tkd. Committee have been also formed to look into the reasons / failures for such fire accidents without any concrete solutions.  Does it not show the apathy on the part of Administration?

Perhaps you are referring to the unfortunate fire incident of April 2010 which resulted in cargo losses for some of our esteemed customers. Tughlakabad ICD is fully equipped to meet with fire exigencies.  There are a total of 385 fire extinguishers, 43 nos. of water hydrants and 40 nos. of sand buckets in the yard.  Further six water filled tank containers, which can be moved anywhere at the time of exigencies have been placed at vintage locations in the yard.  Further 2 sets of water mist fire fighting arrangements have been added. In a nutshell, the fire fighting arrangements at ICD/Tughlakabad are adequate.

Off late it has been a fact that CONCOR believes in Double Standard. During last fire incident in ICD Tughlakabad, CONCOR paid to exporters Rs 50/- per Kg as compensation and it was stated by the CONCOR Administration that the compensation has been paid according to laws of Indian Railways. However, CONCOR has not made the rules of Indian railways applicable for its own administration why? Further whenever there is an accident in which any of the Labour is grievously injured or killed why he is not compensated as per Indian Railways?

 

In this unfortunate incident of April 2010, in most of the cases the shippers had already taken the insurance which is the general norm. They have all received actual claim amounts as per their agreements with insurance companies. in cases, where the shippers had not made any such arrangements, CONCOR has settled the fire accident claims @ RS. 50/- per kg or the amount declared as per invoice, whichever is less. This is as per terms and conditions of transit that are agreed between shipper and CONCOR before the transit commences. For workmen cases, CONCOR is following all statutory acts in force.

Repeated request / Demonstration/ Strike have taken place in ICD Tughlakabad against lack of the Basic amenities like Canteen/First Aid facilities/Toilets/ Good Road/ Chocked Entrance etc. as nearly 10000 people are working in ICD TKD daily. However no concrete action has been taken to solve these problems.

Action has been taken as detailed below:

Toilets are available inside the ICD and Administrative building and these have been spruced up recently. Drinking water arrangements have been augmented and industrial RO systems and water coolers have been installed in the recent past. Following infrastructure has been created/ upgraded:

•           Ambulance available round the clock.

•           Cement Concrete parking (80,000 sq. mtrs.) for 800 trailers/ New gate complex from earlier 350 trailer slots.

•           Refurbishment of Administration building

•           Renovation of toilets

•           New hall for CHAs

•           Canteens are now  being run by Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)

•           New Export warehouse has been constructed

•           CCTV monitoring at Gates/Warehouses has been introduced which is being augmented further at a cost of `76 lakhs.

•           Cement Concrete surface (90,000 sq. mtrs.)  has been done in empty parks, roads

Numerous complaints have been lodged with various authorities including CVC against the corrupt practices adopted by the CONCOR administration. However no action against the guilty has been taken in most of the cases and in many cases the high profile officers are even protected.

Reply

Action is taken wherever it is necessary and no official is being protected.

Why is it that CONCOR takes security deposit from CHA’s for prospective demurrage?  While most of the Private ICDs do not charge warehousing charges when customs issues detention certificate, but the CONCOR does not. Why?

Reply

CONCOR does not take any Security Deposit from CHAs for prospective demurrage.  Whenever Customs issues “Detention Certificate” for a particular Cargo/Container, CONCOR takes it into account and gives it due weightage while granting waiver of wharfage/demurrage.