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After auto, Gujarat aims to be defence, aerospace hub

After establishing itself as a leading auto hub in the country, Gujarat is now vying for a share in the aerospace defence pie.

Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) data shows that Gujarat has been granted 18 out of a total 99 industrial licenses for private companies to set up manufacturing units, the highest granted to any state in 2015 and 2016. The state was nowhere on the defence equipment manufacturing map till a few years back.

While Bharat Forge is already investing Rs 600 crore for a defence component manufacturing unit in Gujarat, Adani has tied up with Israeli firm Elbit Systems to manufacture unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones. Through a group company Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd, Bharat Forge plans to make armoured vehicles, electronics and radars from its Gujarat plant.

Moreover, Airbus and Boeing International have evinced interest for setting up a helicopter or aeroplane component manufacturing unit and may bring up the same during Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in January 2017.

Confirming the development, P K Taneja, additional chief secretary for industries and mines, Government of Gujarat said, "Airbus officials recently met the chief minister of Gujarat and also visited a site in Dholera."

On the other hand, AMW has secured the license to make light armoured vehicles, infantry mobility vehicles, armoured recovery vehicles, shelters and containers for military applications, bullet-proof jeeps and troop carriers, special attack and surveillance vehicles at Kutch.

Further, Anil Ambani-headed Reliance Defence Engineering had acquired Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company Limited (PDOECL) earlier this year. Pipavav Defence had 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.

The mails sent to Airbus, AMW and Reliance Defence did not elicit any response till the time of going to press.

The state government has recently announced a dedicated policy for defence and aerospace manufacturing with incentives like 100 per cent stamp duty reimbursement and 50 per cent of ready reckoner (jantri) rates for land allotment to investors. Government officials estimate an investment of over $25 billion to come in the sector over the next 5 years.

During the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017, the state government is also planning to project six locations including Amreli, Kutch, Kheda, Vadodara, Bhavnagar and Bharuch as future hubs for defence manufacturing in Gujarat.

Already, companies like ABG Shipyard Ltd have clearances for manufacturing naval warships and other attack crafts at Magdala Bundar in Surat and Bharuch. Larson & Toubro has a defence manufacturing unit at Hazira, near Surat.

The government is trying to take a comprehensive approach to develop heavy industries along the Kheda-Mehsana-Sanand-Hansalpur belt.

The 100-km radius around Sanand is all set to take on the existing auto hubs in the country, as back of the envelope calculations show that Sanand-Hansalpur-Vithalapur belt is likely to have an installed car manufacturing unit of over 1.46 million vehicles and around 3 million two-wheelers in the coming three to four years. The figure is expected to touch 2.3 million vehicles per annum in the next eight to ten years.

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