New civil aviation policy in five months time: Official

December 14th, 2011 - 6:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) The government is working on a new civil aviation policy which will promote investments and setting up of the required infrastructure for the sector, a senior official said Wednesday.

“We have about five months to complete the process,” Nasim Zaidi, secretary, civil aviation ministry, said while inaugurating an industry event organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) here.

According to Zaidi, the new policy will encourage private sector investments and lay emphasis on setting up an air cargo promotion board.

Zaidi added that the air freight stations at Mumbai and Chennai will be operationalised soon to keep up with the booming traffic.

Zaidi also called for reforms in the customs procedure and said speedy clearances of cargo was required for the sector to maintain high growth rates.

“We need to decongest cargo terminals with simplification of customs procedures, greater use of mechanised handling and speedy clearances,” Zaidi said.

“India has the potential to emerge as a global trans-shipment hub,” He added.

Central Board for Excise and Customs chief commissioner Najib Shah said the authorities have put in place a risk management system for self-declaration by exporters.

“Efforts are being made to upscale infrastructural facilities and reduce dwell time,” he said.

Meanwhile, industry stake-holders called for reduction in transaction cost by increasing the usage of technology like e-enabled transactions, processes and common IT (information technology) platforms.

“We must have modern integrated cargo terminals, cargo villages, automated storage and rack systems, cold chain facilities to support pharmaceuticals and perishable cargo,” said K. Narayana Rao, chairman of Assocham’s civil aviation committee.

The air cargo industry has been averaging an annual growth of 12 percent.

The total cargo handled by Indian airports in 2010-11 was 2.33 million tonnes, up from 0.5 million tonnes in 2005-06.

While, domestic cargo is expected to increase from 0.8 million tonnes to 1.7 million tonnes by 2016-17, the international cargo traffic is projected to move up from 1.5 million tonnes to 2.7 million tonnes in the same period.

The government has also raised foreign direct investment limit in cargo airlines from 49 percent to 74 percent.

Experts on the sector said that air freight stations would eventually be shifted to Tier II and Tier III cities to offset limitation of space and decongest warehouses at main airports.

“As the key infrastructure sector expands, to keep up with rising passenger and cargo traffic, investments of Rs 1.5 lakh crore will be required in the next 15 years,” Assocham said in a statement.

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