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The commerce and industry ministry on Friday said it has unveiled plans for freight smart cities to improve urban freight efficiency, and create an opportunity for reduction in the logistics costs.

Under the freight smart cities initiative, city-level logistics committees would be formed and they will have related government departments and agencies at the local and state levels.

These would also include the private sector from the logistics services and also users of logistics services, the ministry said in a statement.

The move comes as the demand for urban freight is expected to grow by 140% over the next 10 years, it said, adding that final-mile freight movement in Indian cities is currently responsible for 50%of total logistics costs in India’s growing e-commerce supply chains.

“On the freight smart city initiatives, the logistics division is working closely with GIZ (Germany) under Indo-German Development Cooperation, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and RMI India. A challenge is expected to be announced to encourage the participation of cities in this initiative,” the ministry said in a statement.

From the 10 cities to be identified on immediate basis, it is planned to expand the list to 75 cities in the next phase before scaling up throughout the country, including all state capitals and cities that have more than one million population.

However, the list of cities to be taken up would be finalised in consultation with the state governments.

Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri launched a website on ‘Freight Smart Cities and also released a handbook outlining 14 measures that can be taken to improve urban freight.

“The 14 measures presented in the handbook represent high-leverage areas for cities to improve their economic competitiveness and reduce congestion and pollution,” said Pawan Agarwal, special secretary at logistics division.

The ministry has asked state and cities to focus on the quick-wins like developing peri-urban freight centres, night-time deliveries, developing truck routes, using Intelligent Transportation Systems & modern technologies, Promoting electrification of urban freight and Parcel delivery terminals, among others.

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