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Defence industrial corridor in Uttar Pradesh to kick off with BEL project

The Uttar Pradesh government’s showcase defence industrial corridor project will get off the ground with a manufacturing facility to be built by state-run Bharat Electronics Limited. BEL is the first company to have approached the state government for allotment of land under the scheme. The corridor, one of the two announced by the central government, with the other being in Tamil Nadu, is expected to benefit the politically significant Bundelkhand region.

The Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), the nodal agency for the project, has identified more than 5,000 hectares of land for the corridor in six districts where farmers will be compensated at four times the circle rate. At least 40 more companies have also approached the state government, officials said.

“BEL is the first company to approach us for the allotment of land,” UPEIDA CEO Awanish Awasthi told ET.

The UPDIC is considered to be a politically significant project in view of its potential to improve ruling BJP’s prospects in Bundelkand, Agra and Kanpur zones, where Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have traditionally enjoyed good support.

In the 2017 assembly polls, the BJP had captured all the 19 seats in Bundelkhand region.

The proposed corridor will pass through six districts - Agra, Aligarh, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Kanpur and Lucknow. According to the UPEIDA, these districts have a good ancillary base to support defence manufacturing and ability to continuously supply raw materials and labour. Land availability too is not an issue in Bundelkhand.

“The state cabinet is likely to give its nod for the beginning of the process of land procurement this month. We have already identified 5,000 hectares of land in Jhansi (3,025 ha), Aligarh (285 ha), Jalaun (200 ha), Agra (100 ha), Chitrakoot (500 ha) and Kanpur (1000 ha),” said an UPEIDA official, who did not wish to be identified.

The official further said, “We have assured availability of water near the identified land. Besides, there is easy rail and air connectivity to the identified sites.”

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UPEIDA will give a presentation at the annual general meeting of the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers on September 26.

“We have already approached 40 top companies from among public and private defence manufacturers,” said another official.

These companies include Goa Shipyard Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Airbase group, Bharat Forge Limited, Boeing, Honeywell, L&T, MKU Limited and Wartsila.

Officials said the government would prefer direct procurement of land from the parties concerned.

“We want to ensure implementation of the project at the earliest possible. So, we will prefer procurement of land from the parties concerned without any hurdle,” the second official said, adding that UPEIDA might start procuring land by the end of November.

Meanwhile, IIT Kanpur has agreed to set up a centre of excellence for the proposed defence corridor. The primary areas of collaboration between UP government and the institute will be advanced nanomaterials, cybersecurity and electronics as well as communications.

IIT Kanpur will be the technology partner for shaping up the defence industrial corridor.

Simultaneously, the UP government has fast-tracked the proposed Bundelkhand Expressway connecting Chitrakoot to Agra-Lucknow expressway near Etawah. This expressway will boost connectivity of the proposed defence corridor.

As per the UP government, the proposed defence corridor is suitably located with good road connectivity and has existing manufacturing bases including three units of HAL in Kanpur, Korwa and Lucknow, ordnance factories in Kanpur, Tundla, Korwa, Ghaziabad and Shahjahanpur, and BEL in Ghaziabad.

In February, at the UP investors’ summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had first announced the creation of a defence industrial corridor in the state.

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