The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) last week passed an order awarding Goa Shipyard a contract for 12 mine countermeasures vessels (MCMV) or minesweepers, worth about Rs 30,000 crore, but through a foreign collaboration. The decision came after the defence ministry scrapped a deal for acquiring eight such MCMVs from South Korea.
“This deal is of great significance as it will bring in Rs 30,000 crore to spur Goa’s shipbuilding industry with technology that is not available in any other part of the country. It will be a major game changer in a system where we waited 15 years,” GSL chairman and managing director Shekhar Mittal said.
Technology employed in manufacturing the vessels, currently available in only six countries, will be procured through global tenders. “This technology is available only in six countries and we will import it and make the vessels locally as well as outsource it to Goan companies, thus helping in spurring the shipbuilding industry in Goa,” company officials said.
Earlier last year, the deal for eight MCMVs from South Korean firm Kangnam Corporation was scrapped as defence minister Manohar Parrikar discussed the idea of giving the order to Goa Shipyard. The MCMVs are required by the navy to protect the mouth of Indian ports and naval dockyards against enemy minelaying.
The navy’s plan was to induct the first two minesweepers two years ago, but it was forced to rework its plan and push the induction further, as the deal for the minesweepers did not take off.
The 2005 ‘Buy and Make (Global)’ tender for eight MCMVs was scrapped last November by the Narendra Modi government, after allegations against Kangnam Corporation, which had been declared the lowest bidder, were proved in an internal inquiry initiated during UPA rule.
The cancelled tender involved building two MCMVs in South Korea and the rest at GSL under transfer of technology. The navy has already released a payment of Rs 300 crore to GSL to set up production facilities for the minesweepers.
A fresh procurement case is to be made out under the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category for the MCMVs now. Foreign collaboration would be invited for the project and Kangnam would still be eligible to participate as a foreign collaborator in the project with GSL, if it so desired.
According to MoD officials, Kangnam Corporation can bid for the tender as a GSL partner shipyard, as it was not blacklisted or banned by India. The navy has a total requirement of 24 MCMVs.