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West Bengal to get funds for defence sector

Posted on Dec 21, 10:12AM | IBNS

West Bengal Minister of Commerce and Industry Partha Chatterjee Thursday said that as India's spending on modernising and indigenizing of defence equipment has risen substantially over the years, the scale of the demand for state-of-the art equipment in this sector will usher in a whole new era.

Chatterjee described the situation as win-win for the state and said the state government will play its role and create the right ambiance and cash in on the opportunities.

While India is poised to see an investment to the tune of around Rs 6 lakh crore in the defense industry sector over the next 15 years, at least Rs 80,000 crore of that could come to West Bengal, which will in turn give the state a position of considerable strength in terms of job creation, economic growth and prosperity for the people.

Experts present during the Confederation of India Industry (CII)-organized Defense Conclave held in here Thursday agreed that the scale and scope is enormous for the State in particular and the region as a whole.

"With East India is brimming with opportunities in sectors like machineries, electrical items and hulls, to mention a few, the Conclave is unique. I am sure, will serve many purposes - from brainstorming to one-on-ones, interactions between buyers and suppliers at built-up stalls, and most importantly, spur business activities in the sector," Chatterjee said.

The Minister also described the Conclave as "yet another salutary initiative by CII", which he said, has been "playing a proactive role to spur industrialization in the region as a whole, and West Bengal in particular."

He said, "The government of West Bengal, under the visionary leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is persisting and steadfastly working to create an atmosphere, an ambience, a culture that will catalyze both business and industry."

Commodore Ravi Ahluwalia, Naval Officer- in-Charge, West Bengal, made a presentation detailing the vast potential the Indian Navy offers for catalyzing economic growth.

"Since 97pc of the global trade is carried out through the sea route, the fulcrum of power rests on coastal nations," said Ahluwalia, adding that the Indian Ocean is one of the most vital trade routes for countries across the World, including the USA, China and Japan.

"It is up to us to use our geographical location to our advantage structured to counter threats, but to protect economic interests. We must look towards sea as the resource generator for economic growth," said Ahluwalia.

"And here lies a great opportunity for all stakeholders-the government, industries and other agencies to work in tandem, create more business opportunities for the benefit of our citizens."

Rear Admiral (Retd.) A K Verma, Chairman , Defense Task Force, CII Eastern Region and , Chairman and Managing Director, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited, said the private sector will play a key role in India's pursuit to become one of the mightiest military powers in the globe.

"Of the Rs 6 lakh crore to be invested in the sector, 70pc will be done through the private sector. Orders worth Rs 30,000 crore are in the pipeline for Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited, " Verma said.

"Since the international defense industry has a complex network of supply chains, there is an imperative for Indian companies, especially SMEs, to integrate themselves into the supply chains of both global and domestic Defence majors," said Rear Admiral (Retd.) Verma.

Himansu Sekhar Chaudhury Member, Material and Components and Civil Trade and International Coordination and Weapon Vehicle, Ordnance Factory Board, said more than 4,000 SMEs are engaged in supplying metal, clothes, leather and various semi-finished products to ordnance factories in the State.

"SMEs in West Bengal has a lot of opportunities in the present context," he said, adding, "This is the right time for the industry to come up with ideas and advice as to how we can promote technological excellence such as automation to prevent manpower loss."

Earlier, in his welcome address, Chairman, CII Eastern Region R K Agrawal, explained the context of the Conclave.

"As India is poised for huge growth and aims to achieve a high level of indigenization and Indianization of its defense production, the main objective of this Conclave is to build a platform for the private sector in the Eastern region and defense PSUs to discuss and explore mutual business opportunities and forge a long-term business relationship for a technologically feasible and economically viable industry," Agrawal said.

"This pursuit of self-reliance in defense equipment procurement underlines the growing importance with which the private sector has come to be seen by all stakeholders."

Harsh K Jha, Chairman Task Force on Development Initiatives, CII Eastern Region and Managing Director, Tata Metaliks Limited, who delivered the vote of thanks, underscored the need for innovation in defense technology.

Saugat Mukherjee, Regional Director, CII Eastern Region detailed CII's persistent efforts to catalyze the Defense industry sector, saying, "CII Eastern Region has set up a Defense Task Force to help MSMEs and Industry capitalize on emerging opportunities in the defense sector in the East."

"The Defense Task Force organizes forums and facilitates interactions to explore more business opportunities, particularly for MSMEs in the region. Today's conclave is yet another initiative to create more space for MSMEs in the East," he said.