CVRDE Avadi manufactures ARJUN Main Battle Tanks for the Indian Army

P Sivakumar, a former director of CVRDE and adviser for AIDA, told Express that Tamil Nadu is ideal for manufacturing of arms and ammunition due to its vibrant manufacturing sector

CHENNAI: With a vibrant manufacturing culture and heavy engineering potential, Tamil Nadu is gearing up to build India’s first Defence Corridor (DC). Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Parliament on Wednesday that a consultant has been appointed for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the proposed corridor.

In a detailed reply, she said two DCs were announced in the union budget 2018-19.

“Subsequent to the announcement of setting up of Defence Corridor in Tamil Nadu, five nodal points namely Hosur, Coimbatore, Salem, Chennai and Tiruchirappalli have been selected. Five industrial meets have also been organised at these places,” she said.

Sources told Express that a private consultant Ernst and Young (EY) has been roped in to prepare the DPR. During the industrial meets, held especially in Coimbatore on March 5 and Tiruchy on March 16, attended by the defence minister herself, there was an unprecedented response from entrepreneurs to take part in defence projects.

P Sivakumar, a former director of Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) and advisor for Aerospace Industry Development Association, told Express that Tamil Nadu is ideal for manufacturing of arms and ammunition due to its vibrant manufacturing sector. “The proposed defence corridor will be a huge boon, but the pace in which it is progressing is little unsatisfactory. It’s been almost one year since it was announced and there is little headway achieved,” he said.

However, sources in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Department said thousands of applications have been received from prospective industries showing intent to be part of defence projects.

Already several MSMEs and other industries in the State are contributing to the defence sector. For instance, Shanti Gears, which is part of Murugappa Group, in Coimbatore, makes gearboxes and superchargers for battle tanks that are produced at Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi here.

There are about 2,500 MSMEs in Tiruchy serving as ancillary units of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL). 

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has almost doubled the budgetary allotment for Defence Research and Development Organisation laboratory in Tamil Nadu. For instance, CVRDE was allotted Rs 267.76 crore in 2018-19 compared to previous year’s Rs 152.37 crore.