Thiruvananthapuram to get R250-cr defence nanotech hub

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Oct 15 2011, 09:34am hrs
The defence ministry is readying to park its long-envisaged nanotechnology research hub in Thiruvananthapuram. Besides the cluster of R&D units, the centre will have a full-fledged production facility too, involving a spend of about R250 crore in the first phase. The new unit would work in conjunction with the Brahmos Aerospace Centre, which is a joint venture, with the Indian and Russian governments holding 50.5% and 49.5% share, respectively.

Following the proposal from A Sivatanu Pillai, former head, DRDO and currently chairman, Brahmos Aerospace, the Kerala government had been scouting for land to set up the nanotechnology centre. The state had identified three properties, in Kazhakootam, Thonnakkal and Vithura. The state has informed the defence ministry that about 50 acre can be made available at the earliest, says state chief minister Oommen Chandy.

Emerging port facilities at Vizhinjam and the access to space research centres in Vikram Sarbhai Research Centre make the Kerala capital a strategically ideal location for the proposed Defence technology R&D unit and factory. The setting up of nano tech centre would propel development of allied industries in Kazhakootam, which is also home to Technopark, Keralas premier IT park. According to Mervin Alexander, CEO, Technopark. Following supersaturation in major IT cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune, companies have been moving to tier-1 and tier-2 cities, much to the advantage of the upcoming technocity, he told FE.

Technology space vendors in Kerala also see Telengana unrest in Andhra Pradesh as a huge window of opportunity.

Defence ministry sources say that the country is on a move to ramp up its defence capabilities in nanotech spy devices, bio-degradable ammunition and non-lethal weapons for urban areas. In a recent paper Technology perspective and Capability road map, the defence ministry had mooted plying nanotech applications in counter-terrorism tasks.

This could mean appliances like unobtrusive micro audio bugs and video recording devices with high capacity data storage could be planted at likely meeting places of terrorists, over ground agents. Unattended micro air sensors could be placed in advance. Nano tech devices would be needed in situations which call for extra light weight power sources like portable radars, missiles, UAVs. This demand is likely to be filled by the proposed centre.