On September 17, 2022, the National Logistics Policy (“NLP”) was unveiled by the Prime Minister. The objectives of the NLP are broadly aimed at enhancing efficiency across the logistics value chain by improving connectivity across destinations, adopting technology, simplifying procedural documentation and strengthening the warehousing sector.
While India ranks 44th on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index of 2018, the NLP envisions improving India’s ranking to feature amongst the top 25 countries by 2030. The NLP proposes to support this upward journey by means of the initiatives detailed hereinafter.
Identifying the Action Areas
The Comprehensive Logistics Action Plan (CLAP) envisaged in the NLP identifies the following action areas wherein the policy aims to undertake interventions:
- Developing an ‘Integrated Digital Logistics Systems’ to create a cross-sectoral database for logistics stakeholders.
- Setting standardisation norms for assets and benchmarking quality of services.
- Developing human resource and skill building aligned towards logistics by the ministries involved in different sectors.
- Supporting state level logistics plans and institutional framework development.
- Streamlining EXIM (export-import) processes to improve trade competitiveness and integration with global value chains.
- Improving regulatory interface in the logistics sector.
- Formulating ‘Sectoral Plans for Efficient Logistics’ in different sectors to complement the development of facilitative processes in logistics management.
- Developing a network of logistics parks, including Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (“MMLPs”), by providing framework guidelines for the development of these parks and encouraging private sector investment in the same.
The NLP emphasises standardisation with the aim of reducing cost and improving efficiency. To provide a compilation of existing operational standards, the launch of the NLP was accompanied by the launch of the ‘E-Handbook on Warehousing Standards’,[i] which will act as a guiding document for inter alia manufacturers, commerce agencies, logistics service providers, and others involved in the logistics sectors. The E-Handbook on Warehousing Standards, inter alia, prescribed the standards for the construction of warehouses, palletisation standards, and transportation standards.
The NLP foresees that standardisation would support the development of the co-warehousing segment, which allows businesses to use common warehouse and allied office space as per requirement. This will be beneficial to small businesses and start-ups and will also open up another avenue for private sector investments in the Indian warehousing market.
The NLP provides for development of two main portals, viz., the ‘Unified Logistics Interface Platform’ (“ULIP”) and ‘E-LogS: Dashboard for Ease of Logistics Services’ (“E-Logs”), to provide digital platforms that facilitate the regulatory and operational processes in the logistics sector. The key features of the aforementioned portals are summarised below:
|Objective||To provide a single window platform that enables the exchange of information on a real-time basis amongst different stakeholders. Furthermore, to ensure the authenticity of every logistics department transaction.||To provide a digital system for registering and monitoring problems encountered in the logistics sector and facilitating time-bound resolution of the same.|
Comprised of three layers, the Integration layer and the Governance layer of this platform provide for coordination amongst different ministries and departments.
The third layer, being the Presentation layer, is to be developed by private players to provide an interface with the end-customer.
This dashboard will be accessible to registered users who can login to register their issues with supporting documentation and communicate the same to other stakeholders using the same portal.
Decisions on such issues will be taken by the relevant ministry/department and the decision will be uploaded by the Service Improvement Group (“SIG”), which is responsible for overall coordination and monitoring in relation to E-Logs.
The NLP provides that the SIG will be constituted by nominated officers from various ministries and will be tasked with the resolution of issues pertaining to “services, documentation, processes and policy, along with the identification of interventions for improving the user interface.”
|Benefit to Stakeholders||
It is expected that ULIP will, inter alia, help:
· Governmental agencies can access information for better planning;
· allow transporters to track cargo in real time and identify cheaper logistics modes; and
· simplify the documentation process for logistics service providers and enable value-added services for end customers.
|Authorized users who are dissatisfied with the resolution of their issues can track the progress of the resolution and make suggestions.|
The NLP sets a positive tone for the efficient expansion of logistics services in India by addressing fundamental concerns such as time and efficiency of transportation, reducing logistics costs, and simplifying operational and regulatory processes with technology-based interventions. In addition to the above-summarised features, the NLP also focuses on ‘Logistics Ease Across Different States’ (LEADS), which is a survey taken across states and union territories to assess the viewpoint of stakeholders, document issues faced on the ground in relation to the logistics sector, and identify mitigation measures to ameliorate the identified issues. This reflects the efforts being made towards the development of practically viable mechanisms that facilitate improvements in the logistics sector, which is further strengthened by the framework of the NLP.
The realisation of the policy objectives, however, largely depends on achieving coordination amongst the different central ministries and other stakeholders. Given that state governments may have their own policies framed around the development of logistics parks, it is important to ensure that states adapt the National Logistics Policy in harmony with the existing benefits being offered for setting up logistics parks under state-specific policies, especially when it comes to setting up MMLPs. Ensuring the existence of statutory provisions in relation to the components of NLP would help provide a check on the working of the mechanisms stipulated thereunder. For instance, rules and regulations on management of information communicated via ULIP and E-Logs can provide a safe transaction environment for stakeholders utilising these portals.
A major concern of players in the logistics sector linked to the cost of financing logistics projects, may continue to pose an obstacle while addressing the objectives of the policy. Thus, formulating ancillary options for availing finance at discounted rates would be a boost to the policy. Similarly, the inclusion of an exemption on Goods and Services Tax could help ease the burden of compliance under the policy for smaller players.
 MMLPs are aimed at providing a host of facilities in the logistics chain such as storage, distribution and facilitating transportation by serving as a common point for shift in intramodal transportation of goods.
 Logistics Division, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, E-Book on Launch of National Logistics Policy.
 E-Handbook on Warehousing Standards- available at pdf (dpiit.gov.in)
 The World Bank, Country Score Card: India 2018, available at Country Score Card: India 2018 | Logistics Performance Index (worldbank.org).
While India ranks 44th on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index of 2018, the NLP envisions improving India’s ranking to feature amongst the top 25 countries by 2030. The NLP proposes to support this upward journey by means of the initiatives detailed hereinafter