Prime Minister Narendra Modi today laid the foundation of the flagship Bundelkhand Defence Industrial Corridor in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh, which is expected to attract investment of Rs 20,000 crore.
The Defence Corridor consists of various infrastructure projects totalling over Rs 40,000 crore in the arid Bundelkhand region, which were either inaugurated or witnessed their foundation laying by Modi.
The PM had announced the development of the Corridor after inaugurating UP Investors Summit in Lucknow on 21 February, 2018. The mega infra would span 6 nodes at Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Lucknow and Chitrakoot and create 250,000 job opportunities.
So far, memorandums of understanding (MoU) worth Rs 4,000 crore have already been signed with public and private sector companies for the Corridor. “Big investors have evinced interest in the Corridor. Not only Indian but foreign companies are also willing to set up their units here for manufacturing defence related items,” the PM said at the ceremony.
He noted big units spurred the setting up of smaller plants as well in their vicinity, thus creating their own development ecology and environment. “The small and medium enterprises here stand to gain from the Corridor, while lakhs of fresh employment opportunities would be created. This would arrest the migration of local youth to other places in search of jobs.”
Drawing parallels between the arid zones of Kutch in Gujarat and Bundelkhand in UP, the PM said after the 2001 earthquake, he had undertaken, as then Gujarat chief minister, to develop Kutch and today it was one of the fastest growing districts in India. “I can envision Bundelkhand to also transform in the same manner as Kutch with the help of the Defence Corridor.”
The Yogi Adityanath government has already identified about 5,000 hectares for the Corridor. Earlier, the Centre had de-licensed 275 defence wares and encouraged private manufacturers for such supplies by competing with the public sector undertakings (PSU). These items have been clubbed as ‘non-core items’ of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). The army can float tenders, in which both the private sector and OFB can participate.
India is the world’s largest military hardware importer and among top 5 military spenders. To meet modernisation needs of the armed forces, India will acquire equipment worth US$ 250 billion by 2027, however, the current delivery capacity of the domestic defence sector is merely US$ 75-80 billion annually, indicating huge potential for the indigenous industry.
Meanwhile, the water pipeline project is estimated to cost more than Rs 9,000 crore, while other projects witnessing inauguration or foundation laying pertained to railway line, rail coach unit etc.
Recalling the dastardly terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy in Jammu & Kashmir yesterday, in which more than 40 security personnel were killed, Modi reiterated their sacrifices would not go in vain and that the country had confidence in the valour and capabilities of the armed forces. “We have given a free hand to the security establishment to take the call with regards to the time, place and mode of their action.”