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Saturday, Feb 19, 2005

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Concor shelves cold chain plan

Our Bureau

Kolkata , Feb. 18

THE Container Corporation of India (Concor) has shelved its plan to launch "cold chain" in partnership with private firms, it is learnt. The experts are believed to have expressed themselves strongly against any such venture.

The ultimate objective of launching the cold chain project was to enter into retail marketing of perishables, and towards this end, Concor had decided to form a joint venture with India Development Fund and the Mumbai-based Freshways.

The joint venture was to set up cold storage facilities, initially at three locations — Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. Fruits and vegetables, collected from distant producers, were to be transported in reefer vans and stored in the cold storages having varying temperatures such as control temperature, chill and deep freeze.

The idea of cold chain was prompted by the fact that India, despite being a major producer of fruits and vegetables, witnessed wastage due to lack of proper storage, handling and logistics facilities.

According to one estimate, the country accounts for nearly 10 per cent of the world production of fruits and 13 per cent of vegetables but experiences 25 per cent of its production wasted due to various factors.

The experts were believed to be of the view that retailing of perishables could not be the core competence of the Railway subsidiary responsible for transportation of containers by rail/road but mainly by rail. But then with an annual traffic throughput of about 14-15 million tonnes, Concor plays no major role in the Railways' total traffic scenario (nearly 600 mt).

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