In a major announcement on Sunday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the Ministry of Defence was ready for a big push to the "Atma Nirbhar Bharat" initiative and would introduce import embargo on 101 items beyond given timeline to boost indigenisation of defence production.
Taking to Twitter, Rajnath Singh wrote: "Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi has given a clarion call for a self-reliant India based on the five pillars, i.e., Economy, Infrastructure, System, Demography & Demand and announced a special economic package for Self-Reliant India named ‘Atamnirbhar Bharat’."
He said that the Ministry of Defence has prepared a list of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them. "This is a big step towards self-reliance in defence," Sindh said.
The Defence Minister also said that the "decision will offer a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture the items in the negative list by using their own design and development capabilities or adopting the technologies designed & developed by DRDO to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces."
"The list is prepared by MoD after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including the Armed Forces, public and private industry to assess current and future capabilities of the Indian industry for manufacturing various ammunition & equipment within India. 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. It is estimated that contracts worth almost Rs 4 lakh crore will be placed upon the domestic industry within the next 6 to 7 years," Singh tweeted.
Of the total, 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, the minister announced. "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," he added.
Continuing to provide details, Singh said: "The embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 to 2024. Our aim 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." He added, "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."
The Defence Minister said that more such equipment for import embargo would be identified progressively by the DMA in consultation with all stakeholders. "A due note of this will also be made in the DAP to ensure that no item in the negative list is processed for import in the future," he said.
Rajnath Singh said that a separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement. "MoD has also 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," he said.