MUMBAI: Reliance Group expanded its defence sector play with Chairman Anil Ambani on Sunday announced setting up of a new naval shipbuilding facility with an initial investment of Rs 5,000 crore.
The facility, to be set up at Rambilli along the East Coast near Vizag, would also lead to creation of a multi-tier array of defence ancillaries with further investments of Rs 5,000-10,000 crore and thousands of skilled jobs, he said.
Speaking here at the Andhra Partnership Summit after his group signed an MoU with Andhra Pradesh government for the facility, Ambani said it would complement Reliance Group’s existing facility at Pipavav in Gujarat and will have a clear focus on building strategic assets for the Indian Navy.
“It is estimated that Indian Navy will spend over Rs 3 lakh crore or nearly Rs 20,000 crore a year on acquisitions and fleet modernisation of submarines and aircraft carriers over next 15 years, creating a huge pipeline of opportunity for the proposed world-class naval facility,” he added.
“At an initial investment outlay of Rs 5,000 crore, it will represent the single-largest investment at one location anywhere in Andhra Pradesh,” Ambani said.
The diversified group’s chairman further said Reliance Group has had a strong business engagement with Andhra Pradesh and it has already invested Rs 15,000 crore and created thousands of jobs in the state across a range of sectors from telecom to power.
Stating that Vizag has for long time been a hub for commercial and maritime activities, Ambani said it has now grown to be one of the busiest harbour cities in Asia and it was ideally suited for the manufacture of strategic assets such as nuclear sub-marines and aircraft carriers.
The billionaire industrialist said one of the most important part of India’s policy of a “credible minimum deterrence” is SSBN or a nuclear submarine and the proposed Vizag facility “will play in critical role in complementing this mission and bringing it to fruition”.
Besides, it will also further Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India mission in the defence sector, he said.
“The world class naval facility will also help translate Make in India into Make in Andhra Pradesh and leapfrog the state to the top of the manufacturing revolution in India’s defence sector,” Ambani added.
He said India can become a regional superpower only if its maritime capabilities are strengthened through vigorous build up of our surface and sub-surface fleet.
“The US today has 10 aircraft-carrier groups operating around the world to project its power and protect its interests and was on course to add another three, while India had barely one.
“Similarly, while the US has 72 submarines and China 69, India has a small fleet of 17 submarines. It is the same story in other key areas of naval preparedness. The Indian Navy has today just one nuclear submarine on lease as compared to China’s dozen. Further, nearly 90 per cent of the conventional fleet in the Indian Navy is over 20 years old and due for urgent upgrade and refitment.
“There is a projected requirement of an additional 23 submarines,” Ambani said.