The economy of Haryana mainly depends on its agriculture. In view to strengthen this sector, there is a requirement for a regular supply of machinery, fertilizers, pesticides etc., and during the harvest season the surplus stocks need to be exported from the state. Railways, having a network across the length and breadth of the country, is an ideal form of transportation for this purpose. Its infrastructure thus plays an important role in the efficient functioning of the agricultural economy of Haryana.
In present, the Indian Railways has the responsibility of transporting agricultural produce and other goods to and from the different agricultural areas of Haryana. The usual mode is by dedicated parcel trains and the green bogeys of passenger trains. The trains having refrigerated containers that help in maintaining the quality of the produce are available only on certain routes in the state. Agricultural stocks, which are perishable items, are therefore many times not in a fresh condition when they reach the market. To combat this issue, more number of refrigerated container wagons should be sanctioned in transferring agro-produce in the state.
A challenge faced by the fruits and vegetables producers in Haryana is that these have a short shelf life. In order to address this, usually these are picked before they ripen and then transported and ripened using chemicals. This artificial ripening changes the taste of the food items, and they do not fetch good returns for the producers in the market. The current rail infrastructure does not address this issue. Time and temperature controlled dedicated freight trains can be critical in transporting naturally ripened fruits and vegetables in fresh condition in the state.
Today, with the rising population, increasingly faster mode of transport for agricultural produce is required, so that it reaches the market without any delay. Custom-built containers for carrying a larger number of items are needed, so that more agricultural produce can be moved in a shorter duration. Accountability of time, quality, and quantity is the key to such transportations. The use of wagons with double or triple stacking ability, particularly for agricultural produce, fertilizers and pesticides, is another effective method for increasing the freight capacity.
Among the challenges of transporting perishable items in Haryana is the means through which they travel from the points of production to loading on the wagons, and then from unloading at the destination railway station to the market or distribution centre. During such transfers significant amount of food are either lost or doesn't remain in a good condition. To address this issue, detachable freight containers can be engineered to transport the perishable items from the point of production to the distribution and marketing destinations.
The proposal of a dedicated freight corridor is being considered as the future of freight transportations in India. This, however, is still a distant dream as land is required for constructing the train tracks and new freight carriers need to be imported. Moreover, as proposed, the project only involves Ambala and Rewari in Haryana as the points passing through the corridor line. With almost 80% area of Haryana under agriculture, connecting only two places cannot solve the current issues. The existing railways system in Haryana already has the foundation, but the state needs to improve the quality of freight trains, adopt modern technology, and increase transparency and accountability for addressing the challenges related to agriculture in the state.