Seeking to build capabilities of Indian private sector warship builders, the defence ministry has rejected the plea of a state-owned shipyard to participate in the Rs 25,000 crore project to construct four amphibious warfare vessels for the Indian Navy.
The defence ministry has decided that only private sector shipyards, including Pipavav, ABG and L and T, along with their foreign partners, would be allowed to take part in the Rs 25,000 crore project for building the four Landing Platform Docks, Navy sources said.
The Navy had issued tenders to these three private shipyards last year and decided to keep out Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), saying it was building the 40,000-tonne Indigenous Aircraft Carrier and it should focus on that major project only for the moment.
However, CSL approached former defence minister A K Antony through the Ministry of Shipping and the deal was put on hold to consider whether the tender should be retracted or CSL could also be issued the tender and a committee under an Additional Secretary was formed to look into the matter.
The committee report was presented before the last Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) of the UPA government in February but it was decided that it would be kept on hold.
The new government decided to continue the tender in its original form and CSL will now not take part in it, the sources said, adding that the government wants to strengthen the capabilities of the private sector defence industry.
In a similar case, the defence ministry had rejected the plea of public sector firms to take part in a Rs 15,000 crore tender to build 56 transport aircraft for the air force and allowed only private players to take part in it.
Soon after taking over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined his vision for the defence sector, saying that Indian industry, including both private and public sector, should build their capabilities for achieving self-reliance and also look towards exporting military hardware to friendly foreign countries.
The defence ministry has taken several steps in this direction such as scrapping of the 197 light helicopter tender under which the choppers would now be built by Indian companies only.