Regional compulsions seem to outweigh nationally important locations, said the miffed Minister at the CII’s Defence Conclave
Telangana Industries and IT Minister K.T.Rama Rao said on Wednesday that a suggestion for the development of a Defence Industrial Production Corridor between Hyderabad and Bangalore has not cut ice with the Centre.
“It appears to me that even in strategic sectors like aerospace and defence, I guess regional compulsions sometimes outweigh the nationally important locations,” Mr. Rao said, referring to a meeting with one of the four defence ministers he had met in the last five years.
Without mentioning the name of the minister, and when the meeting happened, Mr. Rao – who is Working President of the ruling TRS – said when he had suggested that such a corridor be established between Hyderabad and possibly Bangalore, the Defence Minister had told him that it has been decided to set up one in UP – in Bundelkhand region – and another in Chennai.
‘Reason made no sense’
Mr. Rao said when he sought to know the grounds on which decision was made “they gave me some reason which made no sense. They simply decided to overlook Hyderabad and Bangalore.” This despite Hyderabad having an “ecosystem, some enterprising minds and an industry ready workforce and [it] made absolute, perfect sense [to host a defence corridor.] The strategic location of the city was also reason why [public sector] defence labs were set up here decades ago,” he added.
Again without mentioning names, Mr. Rao recalled how one of the OEMs in the defence sector that he was wooing very hard to bring to Hyderabad said they they were being asked to consider either Nagpur, Gujarat or Rajasthan.
Economic and commercial travesty
“It is a travesty that even in matters such as investments coming into India in important sectors like defence, also have to [be] weighed based on our political and our geo-political considerations. I think government of India needs to take a serious re-look into its strategies,” Mr. Rao said, seeking to highlight the need to “raise above petty political and geo-political equations. It can’t just be about winning an election…”
The Minister, who said he wanted to speak his mind, chose the inaugural session of the 3rd edition of CII’s Defence Conclave, organised here by the industry body’s Telangana chapter, to make these observations.
Underscoring the significance of encouraging more indigenous defence production capabilities, Mr. Rao quipped: “We import significant portion of our defence equipment, which is a shame.”
Hyderabad: a well-entrenched ecosystem
For Hyderabad, the defence and aerospace industry was one of the most important sectors and complemented by a well entrenched eco-system comprising public sector defence labs, manufacturing facilities of large, globally well-known companies, and over 1,000 SMEs. Telangana has four dedicated aerospace and defence parks in Hyderabad and 50 general engineering parks in which too there are several precision engineering companies.
Telangana stood a good chance to attract large number of investments in the defence sectoro due to these advantages, thr State’s progressive policies, and world class infrastructure, he added.
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