The Tamil Nadu Defence Corridor will be formally launched later this week in Trichy with new defence products, investments and a defence innovation hub to improve design and manufacturing capabilities, said a top government official.
The corridor will be formally launched on January 20 with three main events taking place on that day, said Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary Defence Production. They include the announcement of new investments by Defence PSUs, the private sector, launch of new defence products and the defence innovation hub in Coimbatore.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, top officials from the defence services, defence PSUs, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and industry members will be attending the event. The formal launch of the Tamil Nadu Defence Corridor also comes ahead of the general elections. It follows the launch of projects for the Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor in Aligarh last August. The two corridors are based on existing defence production facilities and will setup new industry clusters to create a supply chain of MSMEs, manufacturers with testing facilities and export facilitation centres.
When asked how is the southern corridor different from the one in UP Kumar said, “In terms of policy it is the same. But, in terms of the nature of defence activity, Tamil Nadu is a major defence manufacturing state in the country. It is famous for automobile components. It is a much stronger manufacturing state and has a strong IT presence. There is also a large base of engineering colleges in the private sector, so there is a huge talent pool.”
A total investment of Rs 3,732 crore was announced at the industry meet for the UP corridor in Aligarh last August. This primarily included from the defence PSUs such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited invested Rs 1,200 crore and the Ordnance Factory Board gave Rs 1,077 crore. “Same number of people from the private and public sectors will be participating at the Trichy event…Here it (investment) will be more than that (UP),” said Kumar, while not revealing the quantum of investment for the Tamil Nadu corridor.
When asked if Anil Ambani will be participating at the event, the official said, “Ambani is not participating. If he is doing so it is not in our knowledge.”
Ambani’s Reliance Group has been caught in a political storm over the Rafale deal on allegations of crony capitalism regarding the offset contract with Dassault Aviation.
Meanwhile when asked why was Tamil Nadu was chosen over Bangalore and other southern states for the defence corridor, Kumar said, “Tamil Nadu has the number one automobiles component. It is bigger than Bangalore. Bangalore is good in aerospace, but it is crowded.”
Kumar said that about 15,000 to 20,000 aerospace components are already being exported from India and the government is looking at more complex systems being made.
While explaining the specifics of the innovation hub, Kumar said that Coimbatore is a major area for development of precision machinery and is a base of about 4,000 companies, including MSMEs and “big ones” that are exporting. “We are working with them to attract them into defence. CODISSIA (Coimbatore District Small Industries Association) industry body met our defence organisations and identified items for indigenisation by their industries. They need design capabilities, so we created the defence innovation hub,” said Kumar.
The government will provide a maximum support of Rs 20 crore to the facility which will be setup by CODISSIA, which according to Kumar has a business of Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 60,000 crore in defence production in Coimbatore. The body will be indigenising items for the defence PSUs. “In case of Coimbatore, a company will be created as part of this. CODISSIA is getting land and the government will give money for capital equipment,” said Kumar.
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