The Tamil Nadu government is planning to tap large-scale global investment by hosting DefExpo-2018, which is being held in southern India for the first time, and promote the state as a defence hub, according to top state government officials and industry chamber. It is learnt that the state is planning to come out with an Aerospace and Defence policy in the wake of Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman announcing the defence corridor for the state, which is estimated to enhance the skill-sets of medium, small and micro enterprises and attract Rs 1.5 lakh crore fresh investments.
Vinod Surana, co-chairman of Assocham and Southern Region Development Council, told Express that he had urged the state to look beyond aerospace and focus on maritime, terrestrial and defence manufacturing.An Industries Department official said the state was looking beyond aerospace and wanted to create clusters. “We already have tank manufacturing facility in Ambattur, Larsen and Toubro is manufacturing navy vessels and we have armament factories in Tamil Nadu. We are keenly focusing on tapping all three defence manufacturing sectors to ensure more jobs for the students,” he said.
Interestingly, the DefExpo 2018 is to brand India as a defence exporter of several defence systems and components for all three Services – Army, Navy and Air Force. However, the focus is now more on the state becoming a defence hub with the setting up of the defence corridor.According to Assocham, the proposed defence corridor will create four lakh high-paying jobs. Surana says that Tamil Nadu has an edge over other states for developing the defence corridor. “The state is an established leader in automobile component, design, electronics, engineering, information technology and textiles. It also has largest concentration of top educational institutions,” said Surana.
Interestingly, the need to have a defence corridor could also be realised, in view of the fact that Tamil Nadu is strategically placed. “It is beyond the range of most Chinese and Pakistan missiles and aircraft and its vast coastline is suitable to control vital shipping routes,” says Surana.Assocham has pitched for Tamil Nadu as it has a vibrant start-up ecosystem in Chennai, Coimbatore and the Hosur region. Interestingly, a defence manufacturing committee of Assocham has suggested metallurgical testing centres and design testing and validation centres near Avadi and a large-scale data analytics centre.
It is learnt that there are 25-30 manufacturing units from Ambattur Industrial Estate serving military establishments as vendors for prototype manufacturing. A detailed study of vendor base will help in identifying areas in which manufacturing assistance is currently lacking. Given the focus on the state as an emerging defence production hub, DefExpo-2018 has earmarked at least half the space for domestic exhibitors.