During the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat 2017 global summit, the state government is planning to project six locations — Kutch, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Kheda, Vadodara and Bharuch — as future defence manufacturing bases of the state. It also proposes to tap its strength in textile sector and set up a manufacturing unit of nanotechnology-based defence uniforms for Army personnel.
During the “Make in Gujarat” series scheduled to be held during the Vibrant Summit, the state government expects to hard-sell these six destinations to investors. The state government also proposes to set up a Rs 82-crore unit at Ahmedabad-based Apparel Park to manufacture “protective fabrics for chemical protection, thermal insulation, flame resistance and high temperature resistance”.
Setting up defence uniforms is part of a set of projects that the state government is projecting to investors in the run-up to the Vibrant Gujarat summit that is scheduled to be held on January 10-13, 2017. “We have prepared about 200 projects for Vibrant Summit. We have already started disseminating information about these projects to investors during our national and international roadshows (held to market Vibrant summit). This is being done to give the investors enough time to come back with any clarifications during the Vibrant summit,” said Rajkumar Beniwal, managing director of Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), an arm of the state government that is organising the Vibrant Summit.
Around 25 percent of the Indian Defence forces operate in an environment with potentially high radiation and chemical or biological threats, while 10 percent are involved in high altitude and extreme cold weather. Setting up a defence uniform unit gels with the inherent strength of Gujarat which is not only the biggest producer of cotton, but also has a network of textile units that manufactures 62 percent of petrochemical fibers in India such as polyesters, poly-olefins, acrylic and polyamide (that are used widely in manufacturing of technical textiles).
As far as construction of future defence manufacturing clusters in Gujarat is concerned, official sources point out that since May 2014, the Modi government has granted about 22 industrial licences to at least six companies for setting up defence manufacturing bases in different districts of Gujarat, including Kutch, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Surat, Bharuch and Kheda.
Defence manufacturing, especially the construction of vessels for the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Gujarat, is not new for Gujarat. Companies like ABG Shipyard Limited already have clearances for manufacturing naval warships, naval support ships and fast attack crafts at Magdala Bundar in Surat and Bharuch. Larsen & Toubro also has one of the biggest defence manufacturing units at Hazira near Surat.
Among the new defence manufacturing licences granted in 2016 include a host of business verticals belonging to Anil Ambani-headed Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd (formerly known as Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company Ltd). Approvals for manufacturing of helicopters, missiles, all-terrain combat vehicles, simulators for air, land and naval platforms, navigation systems, surveillance equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles, at Lunsapur village of Amreli district, have been granted in February.
Last year, the Centre granted licence to AMW Motors for manufacturing light armoured vehicles, infantry mobility vehicles, armoured recovery vehicles, special attack and surveillance vehicles in Kutch district.