The applications are for manufacturing of tactical radios, unmanned aerial vehicles, ammunition, small arms, armoured vehicles, howitzers and warships

by Manu Pubby

NEW DELHI: Defence manufacturing licences can no longer be obtained with an online process, seeding doubts on the fate of some 80 pending proposals from the private sector, ranging from battle tanks to UAVs and warships.

The entire process of application was moved online in 2014 under reforms for the ease of doing business. According to new rules set up by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), however, arms companies will have to submit 15 physical copies of a new form — including details and several enclosures — to initiate the application process for industrial licences.

ET had earlier reported resumption of these licences after DIPP’s differences with the ministry of home affairs (MHA) held them back for a year.

Sources said moving applications offline was initiated after consultations with various departments. ET spoke to several industry leaders who were disheartened by the return to slow processing.

Companies are also concerned about the fate of 80-odd applications pending after the process stopped in June 2016 due to the MHA-DIPP impasse. “We are not clear on what will happen to the pending applications. Will a fresh application have to be filed or will it be processed under the old rules?” asked an industry leader requesting not to be named.

The applications are for manufacturing of tactical radios, unmanned aerial vehicles, ammunition, small arms, armoured vehicles, howitzers and warships.

The pending list includes several new entrants, as well as components manufacturers planning to go big. Another issue of concern, company executives said, is that a number of items that were on the previous licence list find no mention in the new policy.

“The question is, do these items no longer require a licence or is another process going to be defined for them?” said one executive. Some items not on the new list are electronic countermeasure systems, encrypted communication equipment, surveillance systems, protective equipment like body armour and military imaging systems.

The new list also does not mention whether advanced simulation systems for military training will require a licence.