New Delhi: In order to bring down losses of perishable food items in transit, the government today launched a toll free helpline number to provide assistance to refrigerated transporters stuck in the middle of highways and ensure smooth movement of such items to markets.
The toll free calls will be handled by Mumbai-based Reefer Vehicle Call-in Centre (RVC), set up jointly by the government's National Centre for Cold-Chain Development (NCCD) and Mahindra Logistics.
The facility (toll no:18002676223) is available 24x7 for all transport operators of horticultural, livestock, dairy, pharmaceutical and other refrigerated goods.
"The essential link between source and markets is refrigerated transport, which face several bottleneck and challenges. The e-governance initiative is a step towards improving connectivity of farm produce," Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told reporters after the launch here.
RVC will serve as a single point telephonic contact for recording all forms of in-transit bottlenecks to transport the perishables, he said.
The RVC will help create a database of bottlenecks and "the response generated from this exercise will help devise long term plans and policies to alleviate bottlenecks and thus also help in controlling inflation in perishable goods," he added.
"The information can also help transporters to re-route trips away from critical zones and improve service options for refrigerated transport services. This will also help future development of other modes of long haul transport of farm produce," NCCD CEO Pawanexh Kohli said.
Normally, the delay in movement of reefer vehicles is caused due to reasons such as long-toll lines, document verification and in some parts due to crime.
"RVC will help in identifying en-route delays for reefer transporters and will also help in long term corrective actions to redress in-transit delays," he added.
According to official data, the country has around 7,000 to 8,000 actively refrigerated trucks handling 3.6 million tonnes of perishable items.
At present, only two per cent of the country's total vegetable and fruits of 270 million tonnes is transported in refrigerated trucks.