India is getting ready to test Agni-V, its longest range surface-to-surface ballistic missile of 5,000 km, according to Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

Laying the foundation stone for a Rs.700-crore expansion of Midhani (Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd), a Government of India enterprise, he urged scientists and technocrats to treat any denial of technology as a “godsend” as such discrimination led to the development of the 5,000 km range missile.

The country's scientists had proved time and again that sanctions could be overcome, he pointed out.

Mr. Antony said while the original mandate for Midhani was on a small scale, the scenario had changed due to rapid economic growth the world over. Several grades of super-alloys and special steels were now considered to be critical requirements of defence, space and atomic energy programmes. They were of strategic value and the modernisation process of Midhani would further enhance its capabilities.

He said the country looked up to Midhani to extend critical materials support to many programmes of national importance, including manufacture of fighter aircraft like Sukhoi-MKII, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), Arjun and T-90 tanks by ordnance factories, commercial launch of the PSLV, the GSLV and GSLV Mark-II by ISRO and for increasing nuclear power generation beyond 18,000 MW by 2020.

Lauding the enterprise for indigenously building an Electro Slag Remelting Furnace of 10-tonne capacity, he said, the need of the hour was to be competitive globally.

Endorsing the view of Secretary (defence production), R.K. Singh, who wanted the company to aim for a Rs.5,000-crore turnover, he said there was no restriction in infusing new blood and more workers and scientists could be recruited.

Mr. Singh said expansion of this premier enterprise was an important part of the development and manufacture of high-tech defence equipment without time and cost overruns. He wanted it to deliver products of requisite quality in time.

Midhani's Chairman and Managing Director M. Narayana Rao said the expansion programme would result in four-fold increase in the capacities and it was planned to increase the turnover from Rs. 370 crore at present to Rs.1,000 crore by 2013.

He said the company was making materials which were denied by foreign countries to India and was supplying them for vessels that travel in the depths of the ocean to those which successfully landed on the moon.Thanking the company's customers, including the ISRO for supporting the expansion, he said, the Advanced Systems Laboratory and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had sanctioned Rs. 200 crore for the proposed establishment of a Wide Plate Mill.

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