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Govt to roll out more steps to attract investment in defence manufacturing: Rajnath Singh

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the government will unveil more steps to attract investment in defence manufacturing so that India can produce world-class military platforms and weapons systems.

The Defence Minister's comments came after he unveiled new infrastructure and facilities in a number of leading state-run defence majors to enhance their production lines and capabilities.

Singh announced on Sunday that India will stop import of 101 military systems and weapons like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines and cruise missiles by 2024 to promote India's domestic defence industry.

The Defence Minister announced the restrictions on import of the items in tune with the government's initiative to make India a self-reliant nation.

While kick-starting 'Atmanirbhar Week' in the defence sector on Monday, Singh said self-reliance in this field is a tall task which needs whole hearted involvement of all stakeholders to make it successful.

"We will take more steps towards indigenisation, investment in defence infrastructure and expansion in defence manufacturing capability. These steps will create big opportunities for the Indian defence industry," Singh said while addressing top officials of several Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).

At the online event, Singh inaugurated new facilities at a number of DPSUs aimed at enhancing their existing capabilities to produce various weapons systems.

"The ban on imports of 101 items is a big step towards an 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'. This list of negative items contains not only small items but weapon systems of high and critical technology. More such items will be added to this list shortly which will save crores of rupees in imports," he said.

The decision to prune the import list of weapons systems under a year-wise schedule was first announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in May while rolling out reform measures for the defence manufacturing sector that included increasing the FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route.

"Being self-sufficient is never meant to separate oneself from the world. I remember a statement by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He said in the context of Swadeshi that water is necessary to operate a boat. But this does not mean that the water is so much that the boat sinks," Singh said.

The defence ministry said additional infrastructure dedicated by Singh included upgraded facilities for production of Pinaka rockets and T-90 tanks and manufacturing and testing of anti-torpedo defence system by Bharat Electronics Ltd.

The defence minister also inaugurated a newly established industrial design centre of Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) at Bengaluru.

"The design centre is the first of its kind in India, focusing on implementing factors of industrial design and human factors as a part of developmental strategies for setting the global benchmarking in industrial design," the defence ministry said.

It said aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd handed over the 500th AL-31FP overhauled engine to the IAF which are mounted on its most lethal frontline fighter aircraft Su-30MKI.

New infrastructure created by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE) at its Raja Bagan dockyard in Kolkata was also thrown open by Singh.

Another DPSU, Bharat Dynamics Ltd, is also creating infrastructure to enhance manufacturing of missile systems that will reduce import dependence. The BDL is enhancing capabilities for production of Akash and Astra missiles, officials said.

Mishra Dhatu Nigam, a DPSU, is setting up a state-of-the-art skill development centre with a focus on promoting applied research for the development of materials used in aerospace, defence, nuclear, space and other strategic weapons, they said.

The defence industries have been the force behind the armed forces. Today we are proud of our Defence PSUs and OFB for their continued support and sustained efforts towards this, Singh added.

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