Study and expedite defence production proposals: Nirmala Sitharaman to Tamil Nadu govt

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Study and expedite defence production proposals: Nirmala Sitharaman to Tamil Nadu govtDefence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asked the Tamil Nadu government Sunday to form a committee to review and clear various investment plans for production of defence equipments expeditiously. Addressing a meeting for the launch of various projects in Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridor, which she inaugurated Sunday, Sitharaman said under offset policy the central government was willing to buy locally-produced defence equipments.

Under India's offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

She said "offset obligations" were being misunderstood and misinterpreted in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.

The objective of the policy was to open up defence sector for private participation, and make equipments in India and also export them. It is a strategic partnership with Indian companies and it is for leveraging the domestic market as well as global market, she said.

She denied the charge that the offset contract under the Rafale deal, which was to be given to the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), had been given to some other company.

In fact, HAL would become more successful. "We want to make India a hub for defence equipments. That is the aim. It is to create more job opportunities for Indians. It is not to close HAL or OFB (Ordnance Factory Board)," she added.

"Our plan is not to close factories and send people out of employment. Our plan is make equipments in India and give employment to more people. That is the aim of offset policy which many have misunderstood," she said.

The public sector units of the Defence Ministry would play a key role in reviving private industries, she said.

"Several people are willing to invest in manufacturing in India…It was also the dream of late Chief Ministers M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa to develop Tamil Nadu's industry," she said.

She suggested that Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation — which works under the Tamil Nadu government — should study and expedite various investment plans that have been proposed by local industrialists. These plans are of less than Rs 100 crore, she said.

"The Tamil Nadu government team should co-ordinate with the central government…to expedite the investments and build factories for manufacturing (defence) equipments," she added.

The defence minister said the corridor was set up in Tamil Nadu on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The opportunity should be used by the state government and industrialists to realise the dream of the late Chief Ministers," she said.

She said defence projects in Nasik where Sukhoi plane equipments are being made are successful.

Sitharaman said that in Tamil Nadu, a false image is being built as if the Modi government did nothing for the state.