Nashik in Maharashtra can become a defence equipment manufacturing hub as it has companies like the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or HAL, said Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari here on Saturday. In his inaugural address of ‘Know Your Army’, a two-day arms and equipment exhibition of the Indian Army, Gadkari cited the example of the Multi-Model International Passenger and Cargo Hub Airport in Nagpur’ (MIHAN) and said Nashik has a similar potential.
“Rafale aircraft are being manufactured at MIHAN in Nagpur. As many as 450 engineers from engineering colleges in the area have got jobs there. The Falcon jet aircraft will also be manufactured there soon… As many as 1,200 parts of Airbus and Boeing are manufactured there,” he said.
Nashik also has a plant of HAL, the state-owned aerospace and defence company, and other defence manufacturing units and training facilities at Deolali, Gadkari said.
“All these will give scope for defence manufacturing here. It will create new jobs in Nashik, help exports grow and these equipment will be used for the protection of our country,” he said.
India used to import modern weapons but the Make in India programme under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the dynamics, according to him.
“I am happy today that the Dhanush gun made by our defence department is standing with the Bofors gun made by Sweden. It is much more capable than the Bofors and our people have succeeded in making it,” said the minister. India now exports defence equipment, he said.
Lauding the ‘Know Your Army’ programme, he said it will provide citizens, including students, with an opportunity to know more about the force and its equipment.
Researches being done in the defence sector in the country will create new jobs, he said. “Since our industries are making equipment more capable than those we import, our nation has become strong and no country will dare look at us in the eye. Our Army, Navy and Air Force have made great contributions to this,” he said Gadkari.
Lt Gen S Harimohan Iyer, AVSM, Commandant School of Artillery, delivered the introductory address.
“Nashik and Maharashtra is a land of brave people… As many as 5,603 Agniveers are getting training here and most of the weapons displayed here are made in India. The Indian Army has made the a big contribution to the Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives,” he said.