Chinese army firing a short-range ballistic missile during a live-fire drill in Tibet

CHENNAI: The presence of a large number of micro, small and medium enterprises and industrial units weighed in when the government decided to hold DefExp 2018 at Tiruvadanai near the city, but the location is also one of the safest when it comes to the range of Chinese and Pakistani missiles and ships. The long coastline of the state also helped/

The Indian Navy is looking at creating a base for its ships in south Chennai and the Coast Guard has been giving importance to joint exercises off the city’s coast. “TN has a strategic location. It is beyond the range of most of the Chinese and Pakistani missles and aircraft. Its 2,000km coastline is suitable to control vital shipping routes. The state also has a vibrant startup eco-system, presence of research and developement in particle physics, atomic energy and a concentration of top educational institutions,” said Rajib Kumar Sen, at a presenatation before an MSME association in the runup to the expo. With 685 exhibitors including 146 international exhibitors, DefExpo is being marketed by the Centre as an opportunity to Make in India.

The ministry has planned to setup defence production corridor in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh as part of budget announcement 2018. The ministry wants the participating companies to strike deals with the component manufacturers to the make some of the weapon systems in defence manufacturing clusters in Tamil Nadu, a state established in component design, electronics, engineering and textiles. Sen said that the Centre had brought out an industry-friendly defence policy to promote domestic production by public and private sectors. 

The factors that are considered to be in favour of Tamil Nadu include, 700 auto ancillaries in Hosur, rich mineral deposits, steel plant and power grid in Salem, more than 40,000 units in Tirupur and Erode, and an SEZ in Coimbatore. Industry representatives have informed the defence ministry that they would prefer to have manufacturing clusters where units will complement each other instead of competing within themselves, like they do in other industrial estates.

The show of strength by Navy ships off the coast near the venue hints at the importance given to the eastern coast. After setting up a greenfield base at Karwar in Karnataka, Indian Navy is looking at setting up a base in south Chennai. Last December, Rear Admiral Alok Bhatnagar flag officer commanding of TN and Puduchery said the Navy was planning to get 100 acres on ECR for a naval base. “The focus was always on the western coast due to Pakistan, but keeping in mind China, the eastern coast has assumed importance,” said a senior officer.