Communications Minister Kapil Sibal today said he is struggling to convince various departments on several issues including India's ambitious Rs 25,000 crore project for setting up an electronic chips manufacturing plant. Some departments want to have a tender process for setting up semiconductor fab which is not practical in case of high-tech projects, especially those being set up for strategic reason, he said. "Everything in this country is subject to fear that court may put you in jail tomorrow. We have to get out of that fear. If I have to go to jail for children of India, I'd rather go to jail than not empower my children. We have to take decision," the minister added. While speaking at Telecom Summit organised by industry body CII, Sibal said: "One of the big decisions we have to take is that we have to have fab unit (computer chip plant) in India. It takes so much battling to be done to convince our government agencies and our own government how necessary it is to have our fab unit." A high level committee, headed by Advisory to Prime Minister Sam Pitroda, was given the task in April 2011 to identify technology and investors for setting up chip plant. It succeeded in getting two private consortia on board for the high-tech plant, a semiconductor wafer fab. The project is understood to have faced opposition from some government departments, which were part of the panel. Electronic chips are key components in various gadgets and devices like mobile phones.
They are crucial both from security as well as forex outgo point of view, as India has to import most of electronic components. Sibal had earlier said that unless the country builds electronics manufacturing capacity, by 2020, the import bill from this area alone will be a huge USD 300 billion. He again expressed concerns over rising imports and said that in future every product will have chips. "We should manufacture our own chip. We can't afford to import chip for all devices." The Minister also took on bureaucrats within his own department for imposing high penalties on telecom service providers even for minor violation of rules. "For last two-and-a-half years, I have been telling my department what are you doing, but nobody listens. So what do you do. The problem with me is the following. If the files comes...(for) penalty of Rs 50 crore... Even I can't afford to do anything," he said.