Govt is carefully considering the proposals before taking a final call

The much-delayed decision on selecting the foreign investor for building the country’s first semiconductor wafer fabrication unit is ‘likely to be announced soon.’

The government, which had floated expressions of interest from investors and technology service providers in 2011, was ‘carefully considering’ the proposals before taking a final decision, Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary in the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, told The Hindu on the sidelines of an event, organised by Electronic Industries Association of India, here on Friday. The establishment of a fab unit would result in the development of an ecosystem that would be conducive for manufacturing electronic components indigenously, he said.

“Obviously, this is a highly capital-intensive project, and we have to consider many aspects before taking a decision,” he said.

One industry source said the establishment of a semiconductor fabrication facility would cost “anything between $2 billion and $6 billion, depending on the nature of the chips that are to be produced.” Incidentally, Mr. Kumar had, in February, said the announcement on the selection would be made before March-end. Mr. Kumar said the country’s first private fund, under the Electronic Development Fund, envisaged by the New Electronics Policy (NEP), which was unveiled last year, “would be launched within a month.”

He said a new centre of excellence at IIT-Mumbai, specialising in internal security, was being established in association with the private sector.

The centre was developing phones that would work better in thick jungles, and on mine-detection radars, he said.

Brownfield cluster

The Department, he said, was considering a proposal made by the industry to establish a brownfield electronics manufacturing cluster, which was conceived as part of the NEP, at Whitefield in Bangalore. Also under consideration was a proposal from IIIT-Bangalore for an electronics incubation centre for designing and developing hardware.

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