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Providing scientific storage for commodities

The Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) is a Schedule B Mini Ratna PSU under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. It was established in 1957 to provide scientific storage for foodgrains, fertilisers, agricultural inputs and produce. Chairman and managing director B.B. Pattanaik, spoke to Gaurav Choudhury. Excerpts:

delhi Updated: Dec 01, 2008 00:18 IST
Gaurav Choudhary

What are your main activities?

CWC provides scientific warehousing facilities to a wide range of clients including farmers, traders, public and private sector companies for storage of virtually all types of commodities — agri inputs and products, industrial raw materials and finished goods through its network of 495 warehouses. Set up initially for storing foodgrains to avoid distress sale by farmers, the CWC presently runs 75 Custom Bonded Warehouses for storage of imported goods, 35 container freight stations and internal container depots, four air cargo complexes, etc.

What has been your performance?

During 2007-08, despite a drop in capacity utilisation due to reduction in foodgrains storage, we achieved an all-time high turnover of Rs 776 crore, recording a growth of about 15 per cent. Profit after tax was Rs 136.91 crore. We paid the highest dividend of 30 per cent.

How have you diversified recently?

The CWC has established a land customs station at Bengal’s Petrapole, on the Indo-Bangladesh Border and is in the process of setting up a similar facility at Ghasnapara in Meghalaya, besides converting one of its depots at Amritsar to handle impex traffic.

Recently, we have diversified into running container trains on a pan-India basis with a category-I license from the Railways. We run about four trains a week on the Loni (Delhi)-J.N. port sectors, from each terminal. We have converted its facility at Kalamboli (Navi Mumbai) to a rail terminal and will shortly commence container train operations. We also plan to operate container trains on the Delhi–Chennai and other corridors shortly.

CWC has floated a subsidiary Central Railside Warehouse Company Ltd to build and operate rail-linked infrastructure at 22 locations for which we had signed a MoU with the Railways. Railside Warehousing Complexes at 12 of these locations are functional.

What are your expansion plans?

CWC has plans to set up CFS at Kannur (Kerala), a rail-linked CFS at Pipavav Port, besides construction of storage capacity for FCI on a five-year guarantee basis. Proposal for creation of subsidiary on auto logistics and warehouse receipt financing are under consideration of the Centre. We also plan to undertake procurement of foodgrains for the FCI and some state governments.

What has been CWC’s core activity for farmers?

CWC provides priority for storage of farmers’ foodgrains and offers 30 per cent rebate on storage charges. It also provides gunny bags at nominal charges to enable them bring their produce to the nearest warehouse. Receipts issued by the CWC is accepted as collateral by banks for loans.