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MSME sector looks for early fructification of defence corridor

The MSME sector in Tiruchi region has sought pro-active roles by the Central and State governments for timely fructification of Defence Corridor Project.

A report of the Ministry of Defence states that the best bet for success of ‘Make in India’ initiative in the sector is to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers by way of developing an innovative and agile supply chain around the system integrators with active contributions from the SMEs. Against this backdrop, offices must ideally be established in all the five nodes of the Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridor: Chennai, Coimbatore, Hosur, Salem and Tiruchi, N. Kanagasabapathi, Chairman of Tiruchi Trade Centre, said.

At the time of inauguration of TNDIC during January, 2019, it was announced that defence public sector undertakings and private defence products manufacturers will together make investments to the tune of ?3,100 crore.

After the inauguration, there has not been any visible progress in the project, a promoter of a fabrication unit in Tiruchi intending to manufacture components for defence products, said. The Central government had then asked the State to form defence clusters in nodal cities to attract investments along the corridor. The initiative could be given a push if offices are established in Tiruchi and four other nodes, for facilitating MSME units to manufacture components for defence products to be manufactured by the DPSUs, Mr. Kanagasabapathi said.

Last August, Ministry of Defence notified a ‘First Positive Indigenisation list’ of 101 items, and earlier this year, on May 31, the Ministry released the second Positive Indigenisation list’ of 108 items. It implies that there will be an embargo on import of these products beyond specified timelines. These lists include some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars, wheeled armoured platform, rockets, bombs, armoured command post vehicle, and armoured dozor.

The Ministry had launched SRIJAN portal to promote indigenisation on 14 Aug 2020. As on date 10,940 items, which were earlier imported, have been displayed on the portal for indigenisation. The Indian industry has shown interest for indigenization of 2,880 displayed items so far, according to a reply in Parliament by the Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt to a question raised by A. Vijayakumar, Rajya Sabha MP.

There are six ordnance factories and one manufacturing unit of BEL in Tamil Nadu at present. Moreover, there are 35 major private companies which manufacture products for defence. These are supported by MSMEs, numbering about 250. After announcement of defence corridor in Tamil Nadu, about 30 more companies have expressed their intentions to set up/expand manufacturing units, the reply states.