Vijayawada

BEL begins the mission on Masula coast

₹300 crore second unit works at Nimmaluru targeted to be completed by 2021

The Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has started the construction of its second Advanced Night Vision Devices unit at Nimmaluru on the Machilipatnam coast, with a target to commission it by 2021. With this, the town will be having two of the BEL’s 10 manufacturing units in the country. When commissioned, the second unit will be the BEL’s largest night vision devices unit in the country.

In 1983, the BEL took over the Andhra Scientific Company to set up its fourth unit in Machilipatnam town, with the state-of-the-art technology in opto-electronics. It manufactures night vision devices mostly meant for the Indian defence sector. It also exports its products to some countries.

In September 2016, the foundation stone was laid by then Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu for the BEL’s second unit on a 50-acre campus at Nimmaluru, aiming at commissioning it by early 2018. The unit is less than 20 km from Machilipatnam town. In June this year, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, the Vice-President of India now, had asked Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to clear all the hurdles to start the construction work of the Nimmaluru unit, according to the archive of the Press Information Bureau.

Designs ready

BEL General Manager (Machilipatnam unit) K.R.K. Ravi Prasad told The Hindu: "All the designs of the Nimmaluru unit have been prepared to complete the project and commission it within two years (by 2021). The construction activity has just begun on the site for the ₹300 crore project."

Mr. Ravi Prasad, refuting the speculations that the project came to a halt, clarified that they had never stopped working on the project but the designing and planning took some time.

According to BEL authorities, Passive Night Weapon Sight for INSAS/LMG/AK47, Passive Night Vision Binoculars, Passive Night Monoculars and Hand Held Thermal Imager (HHTI) are the key devices to be manufactured in the second unit at Nimmakuru. The HHTI manufactured by the Machilipatnam unit was used by the Indian Army in the Kargil war, as claimed by the BEL authorities in an interview with The Hindu earlier.

The BEL’s first quarter performance report (July 01) for 2019-20 claims that it has an order book position of ₹51,715 crore.

The optoelectronic devices manufactured in the unit are now being exported to Sri Lanka, Sudan, Israel and African countries.

‘No shifting’

A techie and US returnee Kanth Jonnalagadda of Machilipatnam opines: "The BEL’s Machilipatnam unit is the crowning glory of the port town. We hope that the second unit would also offer more employment opportunities for the budding local techies."

Negotiating Trade Union (BEL employees) president and Transport Minister Perni Nani said: "The higher authorities of the BEL have promised that the existing unit will not be shifted from Machilipatnam during a recent official conversation."

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2020 1:37:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/bel-begins-the-mission-on-masula-coast/article29966113.ece

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