LUCKNOW: Pitching for developing local defence production, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said the country has been "blindly buying" from abroad instead of using its own facilities which can help reduce the import bill.
India is the world's third-largest buyer of arms and equipment but in the absence of a good plan to reduce imports through local production, 13 armament factories are in "this state of affairs", the defence minister said while stressing the need for reviving these units.
She made these comments a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the setting up of a Defence Industrial Corridor in Uttar Pradesh.
"Instead of using our own production facilities, we are blindly buying from abroad. Prime Minister is of the view mobilise and activate these units, and link the private sector with them, so that there is a reduction in the import bill," she said.
Addressing the plenary session on the second day of the Investors Summit 2018, she said the Corridor is proposed in a stretch through Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Chitrakoot and it also includes Kanpur and Lucknow.
It will leverage the existing ordnance factories and state-owned defence establishments in UP, she added.
Sitharaman said Bundelkhand will benefit from the six-lane highway which the UP government has proposed to build up from Chitrakoot to Jhansi and will provide necessary infrastructural support for investment units in India.
The initiatives of the Ministry of Defence to promote industry investment in Defence Production will also provide impetus to the Corridor, she said.
The minister added that the MoD will, apart from taking steps to promote private investment, set up infrastructure for blast testing of arms and ammunition in the proposed Corridor.
Sitharaman also stated that low cost of land and low wage rate with adequate supply of manpower will be an attraction of the UP Defence Industrial Corridor.
It will serve as an engine for economic development and growth of regions of UP, especially Bundelkhand region.