Pune: The Centre has approved 15 projects worth Rs 1,000 crore to upgrade and modernise ordnance factories across the country. 

Sharing this information with TOI, secretary of the department of defence production Ajay Kumar on Friday said, “We have cleared all proposals recently regarding modernisation in terms of machine procurement, new infrastructure projects, among others, of various ordnance factories. This is the highest amount approved by the government in the last four years.

Kumar was in the city to attend a seminar organised by the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI).

Kumar said there was a perception among people that the government would close down ordnance factories. “However, the government’s current approach (towards the ordnance factories) is positive. It has given significant work orders, including mass production of Artificial Intelligence (AI) items and products for long range artillery gun ‘Dhanush’, to these factories. We have recruited about 2,700 workers at these units and have introduced changes in their manual. These changes will help them enhance production capability,” he said.

Kumar conceded that there were some issues relating to product quality of ordnance factories. “To some extent, we have addressed these issues and more efforts are being put in. The Ordnance Factories Board has been performing excellently in producing tanks,” he added.

He said China made a turnaround from being one of the largest importers of defence products in the world 15 years ago to being the third largest exporter of defence items now. “India too has seen growth in terms of defence aerospace components’ exports in the last three years. In fact, these exports have touched Rs 10,000-crore mark now, from Rs 1,500 crore earlier. We need to continue with this and we are working closely with private industries and industrial bodies, such as DICCI,” Kumar said.

Earlier, Kumar urged more than 300 Dalit entrepreneurs at the seminar to meet the quality requirements of the Indian armed forces. “The government is in the process to hiring private agencies for carrying out quality assurance task of defence products. Currently, only government agencies, such as director general of quality assurance (DGQA), are carrying out this task. But, considering the future workload, the government would outsource this work through authorised third-party inspection,” he said.

Kumar said, “The government has initiated various steps towards ease of business for private industries in the defence sector. If a vendor registers with a public sector unit (PSU), he is not required to register with all the PSUs. These units hold regular meetings with vendors every month. Make in India windows too have been created at these units. These moves have provided impetus to the industries.”