Tuesday, December 7, 2010

India's first warship design centre to reduce dependency

With the inauguration of the country's first warship design centre at Challiyar in Kerala's Kozhikode district in 18 months, 75 percent of the Indian Navy's vessels would be made in the country itself - reducing the dependency on other nations, an official said.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony has been for long speaking of indigenising military hardware and this is one step towards that.

'In this centre, the design for warships will be drawn up and a prototype will be made. Once this is approved, the manufacture of ships can be taken up by the shipyards,' Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) managing director Alkesh Kumar Sharma told IANS.

'At the moment, the ships of the Indian Navy are only around 25 percent indigenised. Through this new design centre, that would go up to as high as 75 percent,' he added.

The foundation stone for the design centre will be laid next month, the official said.

The Rs.600 crore (around $133 million) project will be set up under the defence ministry with the full support of three major ports in the country. The Kerala industries department will play the role of the local facilitator.

Sharma said the state's share would be limited to the extent of the 41 acres of land that has been provided.

'The major participating companies in this mega project include Mazagon Dock Ltd and the Goa Shipyard. They will have a share in the equity, with the central government also chipping in,' he said.

Due to Antony's efforts, the project has come to Kerala, which of late has seen a string of central projects setting up shop in the state.

Kerala Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem said the state government has fulfilled the role assigned to it.

'The land for the project has been handed over and we have done what we were supposed to do,' said Kareem, who is happy as the project is to come up in his home district.

Another highlight of the project is that a training centre also is planned to be set up to enable professionals to be groomed in all aspects of warship building.

'More than the direct jobs, this industry provides for a wide range of ancillary industries to come up and it is here that the trained manpower will be able to find a good number of jobs,' Sharma said.

Once the project starts business, the Beypore Port which is near the site is expected to see more activity.

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