Saint Antony blesses Kerala with defence projects
By Ritu Sharma - NEW DELHI
Published: 18th Nov 2012 12:04:49 PM
Following the examples of former Union ministers Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mamata Banerjee, Defence Minister AK Antony is on a spree to set up defence projects in his home state Kerala as the election approaches. Antony is quietly turning Kerala into a defence hub. Nearly a dozen of defence projects are being set up in the state.
On Saturday, Antony—India’s longest serving defence minister—inaugurated Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s Strategic Electronic Factory at Kasargod, Kerala. The factory is to produce advanced avionics for aircraft and helicopters. The first phase of the factory, say sources, will cost Rs 66 crore. The state government has allotted 196 acres of land for the new unit. Presently, the factory is producing of Airborne Special Purpose Computers, as well as upgrading MiG-27 fighter jets. In its second phase, when the investment is likely to go up to Rs 200 crore, the factory will manufacture avionics for the 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft yet to be purchased by the Indian Air Force.
On November 15, Antony inaugurated yet another complex in Thiruvananthapuram for the integration of the supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos. The new facility aims at doubling missile production; the IAF has placed an order worth Rs 6,000 crore for 200 airborne missiles. The Public Sector Undertaking, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, has set up its fourth manufacturing unit at Palakkad. The project is likely to require an investment of Rs 260 crore to manufacture Tatra vehicles and other military automobiles, and is expected to create 200 jobs that would eventually go up to 1,000. Another public sector major, Bharat Electronic Limited, has set up a support centre at Kochi’s Infrastructure Development Corporation.
In January 2011, Antony had commissioned a Coast Guard Academy at Azhikkal to train security personnel in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks. The Academy is expected to train 500 cadets for search and rescue missions, and respond to maritime contingencies. In the same month, he had sanctioned the Rs 600-crore National Institute for Research and Development in Ship Building at Kozhikode that aims helping the indigenous ship-building industry. The Cochin Shipyard Ltd also has some major warship construction orders, such as building India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier. The Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala was also commissioned by Antony 20 years ago, even though the project is yet to take off.
- Sunday Standard