Small and medium entrepreneurs to be encouraged in the defence sector: Minister

The defence sector is changing its strategies keeping in view the increasing challenges on the external and internal security fronts. This was necessitated by the change in the nature of warfare in the field of technology and electronic era.

Speaking to The Hindu here, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said his Ministry was preparing a long-term integrated perspective plan for 15 years giving due space to private participation.

“Public-private partnership is the need of the hour. Our capabilities and needs should be shared with industry. Small and medium entrepreneurs, particularly, will be encouraged in the defence sector,” he said.

Torpedo unit

Mr. Raju cited the example of the torpedo (missile) production unit with the support of medium entrepreneurs in the Visakhapatnam naval base with an outlay of Rs.1,000 crore. The country aimed at becoming a predominant force in the Indian Ocean besides achieving self-sufficiency in the defence sector where 70 per cent of the requirements were currently being met with imports.

“We want to ensure that imports come down to 30 per cent in the near future,” the Minister said. The defence spending now was 2.4 per cent of the GDP and allocation in the budget 16 to 17 per cent.

The Minister responded affirmatively when asked about the increase in the defence budget, but did not elaborate about the quantum of increase.

Defence land

On safeguarding defence land in the light of the Adarsh scam, he said 17.3 lakh acres were identified as defence land in the country. Of this, 2 lakh acres were under the government control. Every inch of land would be computerised and details put up on a website.

Replying to a query, he said that 7,500 km of the coastline should be guarded under a 3-tier system by the Navy, Coast Guard and marine police and automatic identification of vessels would be in place soon.