New Delhi: Rubber saplings to be planted in the country’s north-eastern states are being transported onboard the Railways’ parcel trains for the first time to boost production of the plant and bring down its import.

The first such train was run on Saturday from Tiruvalla in Kerala to Azara near Guwahati, fetching a revenue of Rs 11.16 lakh, officials said.

Around 158 tonnes of rubber saplings were transported in 16 coaches. This is a new initiative in association with the Rubber Board by the business development team of the Thiruvananthapuram Division, Southern Railway, to increase the national carrier’s freight basket.

“Around 6,500 cartons of rubber saplings weighing about 158 tonnes have been despatched in this parcel express from Tiruvalla to Azara for the first time, fetching a revenue of Rs 11.16 lakh,” an official said.

They said Rubber Board officials have informed the Railways that two more parcel special trains would be operated during July-August 2021 from Kerala to the north-eastern states of India.

In May, the Railways did a pilot loading of saplings on a trial basis. Rubber saplings need aeration coaches for transportation, and as a trial measure, the Rubber Board had transported a coach full of saplings from the Trivandrum Central Railway Station to Guwahati, and the saplings reached in good condition.

In association with ATMA (Automobile Tyre Manufacturing Association) and NABARD, the Rubber Board is transporting these rubber saplings for planting in north-eastern states with the aim of increasing natural rubber production and move towards self-sufficiency in the produce, thus avoiding imports. The scheme also has the larger objective of improving the economy of the north-eastern states and creating job opportunities for the people, an official said.

Also read | Assam gets world’s first genetically modified rubber sapling

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