VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when the city is already playing host to various defence sector enterprises, the latest entrant to cater to the growing requirement of the Indian Navy is likely to be a consortium of industries from Russia led by the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC).
According to senior officials of AP and USC, the latter has zeroed in on Visakhapatnam for setting up a major shipbuilding project and a decision is expected to be announced formally after requisite approvals from the Russian government as well as the Indian central and state governments are secured.
During his visit to Vizag on Tuesday to take part in a dialogue between Indian and Russian defence industries, USC president Alexey L Rakhmanov said, "We are here to complete our first round of investigation and selection of a site for a major shipbuilding project that we are planning in India. Many productive discussions with the state government have been held and the situation of shipbuilding facilities and shipbuilding related assets is so big here that for us, it is extremely interesting and attractive." He said a final decision would be arrived at after approval from the Russian government.
While mentioning that the USC had been scouting for a conducive place for setting up a major hub by the Russian ship-building corporation for the last couple of years, he declined to comment on the chances of Vizag ending up as the final location. However, he said, "We are very close to a decision. We have actually been looking around the entire coastal sites which were screened by my specialists last year and this year. Here (in AP), we found so much enthusiasm which convinced us to visit the place."
In addition to this, he also said the corporation is 'seriously considering' AP as a base for not only catering to the Indian market, but also for using the proposed manufacturing hub to cater to global requirement with Indian cooperation. He said, "We are not only looking at the manufacturing side, but also have plans for preparation of tie-ups between Indian and Russian universities to train specialists. This will also serve the purpose for our shipbuilding so we have specialists and professionals, who are so much needed in this business."
However, Rakhmanov declined to comment on the quantum of investment into the proposed defence manufacturing hub for shipbuilding. Asked about the time frame, he said, "There are some projects to be announced in December or early next year."
Meanwhile, chief executive officer of AP economic development board J Krishna Kishore said, "We have already held two to three meetings and they are totally impressed with AP. They are ready to invest in a major manufacturing hub in Vizag. If one major unit comes here from Russia, then all the subsidiary units will also come here. We can't comment on the investment, but we are hoping for an agreement soon."