Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the proposed Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor was on track and ministry officials were already talking to the local industry.
She said the officials were confabulating with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for upgrading their technical skills and offering them expert advice and consultations for prospective manufacturing.
“The ministry officials are on job to prepare the basic framework of the Corridor. They are urging the local industries, especially MSMEs to form manufacturing associations to pool their resources for manufacturing and catering orders,” she said. These associations are expected to develop as aggregators, build capacity and boost the manufacturing value chain.
Sitharaman, however, said the formation of these bodies was not compulsory, but it would allow the MSMEs to pool their resources and cater the orders that would flow once the Corridor was ready. She said the association would facilitate better B2B (business 2 business) interactions too and spur better procurement and supply management.
Flanked by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Sitharaman was talking to the media on the occasion of the 38th Foundation Day of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The announcement of the Corridor was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inaugural day of the 2-day UP Investors Summit 2018 in Lucknow on 21 February. While the Corridor is proposed in the arid zone of Bundelkhand, it would span several districts for backward linkage viz. Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Lucknow, and Chitrakoot. An investment of Rs 200 billion is likely to flow to the Corridor.
Meanwhile, Sitharaman said a Defence Expo was being organised in Chennai, where another Defence Corridor had been proposed. She supported the idea of both the corridors sharing experiences and benefitting from each other’s distinct advantages.
“After the preliminary groundwork is over, a detailed project report (DRP) for the UP Corridor would be prepared. The details are being worked out and some development has already taken place,” she informed.
The Centre had already announced to set up common facility centres in the corridor to incentivise private companies set up shop and cut their production cost. For example, the Centre could establish ammunition blast testing centre with regards to ammunition production.
Traditionally, UP has possessed skilled workmanship in metals, besides having a vast defence manufacturing base in Kanpur with almost 6 public sector undertakings manufacturing arms and defence related wares. However, these were never leveraged on big scale by successive governments. India is the world’s largest military hardware importer and among top five military spenders.
Meanwhile, Adityanath observed the Corridor would prove to be epoch making for UP and boost industrialisation. “The proposal is being taken forward and defence ministry officials are working with us,” he said adding the state had massive investment opportunities still to be unlocked.