The department of post has started inter-city road transport of parcels from Calcutta to Guwahati, Bhubaneswar and Patna amid rising e-commerce demand.
The inter-city movement of parcels through road comes amid the inability of the railways to provide adequate space and the preference given by the airways to perishable commodities.
The department posted a 56.87 per cent growth in parcel traffic during 2017-18 over the previous year against a 0.8 per cent growth in letter mails.
“The importance of letters is gradually decreasing whereas that of parcels is growing. So, we need to tune ourselves to the rising demand for parcels. We are developing our own warehousing capabilities that will take time. We are also looking at inter-circle movement of parcel mail by road transport,” said Gautam Bhattacharya, the chief postmaster general of the Bengal circle.
At a session of the Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bhattacharya said from November, the department has introduced road transport from Calcutta to three locations with plans to add Ranchi as the volume grows.
“For the railways now there are other priorities. Earlier, we used to have a full parcel van, whereas today it has come down to half or a quarter sometimes with the railways not in a position to spare that much space. For the airways, perishable goods get a higher preference. As a result, there is accumulation at our end. So, it has been decided to develop our own system to tackle the increased volume of parcel mail,” Bhattacharya said.
The Bengal circle has identified Calcutta, Siliguri and Durgapur as three major parcel hubs with spokes located at different cities to facilitate the movement of parcels.
The department earned a revenue of Rs 98.45 crore in 2018-19 (up to February 2019) from business and express parcels. The market for parcels in the country is growing at a compounded rate of 15 per cent and is estimated to reach Rs 60,000 crore by 2026 from Rs 18,000 crore.
India Post holds a market share of around 4 per cent by volume and around 5 per cent by revenues. The department is eyeing a 15 per cent market share by 2026.