India targets $10 billion business for defence units in 11th plan

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Kochi, Jul 2 (UNI) India is targeting business to the tune of 10 billion dollars from the local defence industry under the offset policy in the 11th five-year plan, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said today.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Raju said the offset policy, which made partial sourcing of components locally mandatory for foreign vendors selling defence equipment to India, would also facilitate greater technology inflow and private sector participation in defence manufacturing.

India was targeting defence goods worth at least 10 billion dollars should be sourced from the country in the 11th five-year plan, he added.

Admitting the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) had not been able to meet the deadlines for supply of systems, Mr Raju said the sanctions imposed after the 1998 nuclear tests had led to ''slippages'' in all major DRDO projects.

However, with the introduction of the offset policy and greater technological inflow, the DRDO would be able to meet its commitments.

The organisation also had better understanding now of the armed forces' need to have certain capabilities by a certain time-frame, he added.

On China's increased presence in the Indian Ocean, Mr Raju said though Beijing insisted that its maritime collaboration with Pakistan and Myanmar was only for commercial reasos, India could not lower its guard.

''We have to maintain our position as the dominant power in the Indian Ocean Region,'' he added.

Stating he visited the Cochin Shipyard yesterday, Mr Raju said the work on the indigenous aircraft carrier was progressing as per schedule and the aircraft carrier was expected to be delivered on time.

On the services' discontent with the sixth Pay Commission recommendations, Mr Raju said the empowered group of ministers would meet to discuss the recommendations of the group of secretaries on the commission report.

Also, the DRDO was considering the A V Rama Rao Committee report on improving the working conditions of scientists.

The leave conditions of services personnel had also been relaxed so that they could visit their homes more easily, he added.

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