New Delhi: Under its scheme titled ‘Operation Greens – TOP to Total,’ Indian Railways on Tuesday (October 13) extended a subsidy of 50 per cent on transportation of notified fruits and vegetables through Kisan Rail trains, according to the Ministry of Railways order issued on Tuesday. Notably, the scheme was approved in June.
The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) extended the Operation Greens Scheme from Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP) to all fruits and vegetables (TOTAL) for a period of six months on a pilot basis as part the Centre’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
According to the Ministry of Railways’ order, “Once this corpus has been utilised, Indian Railways will provide a Utilization Certificate to MoFPI, and MOFPI will provide additional funds to Railways. Zonal Railways are, therefore, requested to extend a subsidy of 50% on transportation of notified fruits and vegetables through Kisan Rail trains – with immediate effect.”
“Full details of the subsidy granted (including consignor, consignee, train number, P-way Bill number, and amount) shall be maintained by the Railways – so that proper and timely account may be ensured,” it said.
The order further said the Chief Parcel Supervisor of the loading station will be responsible for ensuring that only the notified commodities are extended the benefits of this scheme, adding that further modalities for accounts, etc are being finalized and will be communicated shortly.
The Ministry of Food Processing Industries will initially provide Rs 10 crore to operate the scheme, which will be deposited with the South Central Railway zone, the ministry said.
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in May that ‘Operation Green’ will be expanded with an additional fund of Rs 500 crore and extended from tomatoes, onions and potatoes to all fruits and vegetables. The Centre had announced plans of starting special parcel trains called ‘Kisan Rail’ in the Budget for this financial year.
In her Budget 2020 speech, the finance minister had said the Indian Railways will set up a ‘Kisan Rail’ through public-private partnership (PPP) with refrigerated coaches for transportation of perishable goods inclusive of milk, meat and fish.
At present, the railways’ subsidiary CONCOR provides reefer services. Cold chains as a business area involve providing transportation to perishable products from source to end-user while maintaining a certain temperature along the route.
The first ‘Kisan Rail’ train for transportation of perishable goods with refrigerated coaches to assist farmers, and aimed at ensuring fast transportation of agricultural produce across the country, was flagged off on August 7 from Deolali in Maharashtra to Danapur in Bihar.
The Ministery further said that it is expected to reduce transportation costs by Rs 1,000 per tonne compared to roadways and reduce travel time by around 15 hours.