Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Govt nixes Rs 32000 crore 'Make in India' minesweepers project

Govt nixes Rs 32000 crore 'Make in India' minesweepers project

According to original understanding, the Goa Shipyard and the Kangam Corporation were to build 12 minesweepers in India under the Make in India initiative and the deliveries were to be completed within nine years of the start of the project.

The defence ministry has directed Goa Shipyard to begin a fresh global search for technology partners for minesweepers.

Advanced minesweepers or mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) are around 900-tonne specialised warships that detect, track and destroy underwater mines laid by enemy forces to choke harbours and offshore installations, disrupt shipping and maritime trade.

India's state-owned shipbuilder Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) is soon expected to issue a fresh expression of interest for the $4.9 billion mine countermeasure vehicles (MCMVs) project after canceling an earlier deal with South Korea's Kangnam Corporation.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that the collaboration between GSL and Kangnam Corp has fallen through. The Goa Shipyard, incidentally, has already invested over Rs 700 core in building infrastructure for construction of the MCMVs, which will take nearly a decade now.

In April 2017, Vice Admiral DM Deshpande, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition of the Indian Navy, had said that the issues between Goa Shipyard and the South Korean collaborator in the project have been sorted out and the deal should be sealed by the end of 2017.

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The Centre had in 2014 scrapped another project to construct minesweepers in India in partnership with Kangnam Corporation.

However, with latest deal falling apart, India could be without a minesweeper even beyond 2021, Hindustan Times reported. The Navy urgently needs 24 operating minesweepers, but is managing with only four archaic minesweepers now.

Also, the existing minesweeper fleet is to be decommissioned between 2018 and 2020.

The world's fifth largest navy reportedly has only four minesweepers in active service-all acquired from the erstwhile Soviet Union between 1978 and 1988-to defend its 14 ports.

The situation is alarming because Chinese nuclear and conventional submarines, which can quietly lay mines, are regularly making incursions into the Indian Ocean. The worring gap in the operational capacity of the Indian Navy prompted the government to look for more vessels.

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