Rajnath Singh announces import embargo on 101 defence items

New Delhi (NVI): In a big boost to indigenous defence production, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today announced import embargo on 101 items beyond given timeline, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.

“The Department of Military Affairs (DMA), Ministry of Defence (MoD) has prepared a list of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them,” the Ministry of Defence said in an official statement.

The list of 101 embargoed items comprises of not just simple parts but also some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircrafts, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars and many other items, MoD said.

The list also includes, wheeled Armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) with indicative import embargo date of December 2021, of which the Army is expected to contract almost 200 at an approximate cost of over Rs 5,000 crore.

Similarly, the Navy is likely to place demands for Submarines with indicative import embargo date of December 2021, of which it expects to contract about six at an approximate cost of almost Rs 42,000 crore.

For the Air Force, it is decided to enlist the LCA MK 1A with an indicative embargo date of December 2020. Of these, 123 are anticipated at an approximate cost of over Rs 85,000 crore, the Ministry said.

In a series of tweets, Rajnath Singh said that this is a big step towards self-reliance in defence. “It also offers a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to rise to the occasion to manufacture the items in the negative list by using their own design and development capabilities or adopting the technologies designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces in the coming years,” Singh said.

The list is prepared by MoD after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including  Army, Air Force, Navy, DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and private industry  to  assess  current  and  future  capabilities of  the  Indian  industry for manufacturing various ammunition/weapons/platforms/equipment within India, the MoD said in a statement.

Almost 260 schemes of such items were contracted by the Tri-Services at an approximate cost of Rs 3.5 lakh crore between April 2015 and August 2020.

With latest embargo on import of 101 items, it is estimated that contracts worth almost Rs four lakh crore will be placed upon the domestic industry within the next five to seven years. Of these, items worth almost Rs 1,30,000 crore each are anticipated for the Army and the Air Force while items worth almost Rs 1,40,000 crore are anticipated by the Navy over the same period, according to the ministry.

The embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 to 2024. The Defence Ministry further stated that the aim behind promulgation of the list is to apprise the Indian defence industry about the anticipated requirements of the Armed Forces so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenisation.

“The MoD has adopted many progressive measures to encourage and facilitate ‘Ease of Doing Business’ by the defence Production entities. All necessary steps would be taken to ensure that timelines for production of equipment as per the Negative Import List are met, which will include a co-ordinated mechanism for hand holding of the industry by the Defence Services,” read an official statement.

More such equipment for import embargo would be identified progressively by the DMA in consultation with all stakeholders, MoD said.

A due note of this will also be made in the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) to ensure that no item in the negative list is processed for import in the future, it added.

Apart from that, the MoD has bifurcated the capital procurement budget for 2020-21 between domestic and foreign capital procurement routes. A separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year.