Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday expressed confidence that the Indian Navy will become one of the top three Navies in the world in the coming years and continue to play a crucial role in protecting the nation.
His remarks came during his visit to the Karwar Naval Base in Karnataka today to review the progress of ongoing infrastructure development under ‘Project Seabird’.
Accompanied by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Singh undertook an aerial survey of the Project Area and Sites before arriving at the INS Kadamba Heli Pad.
The Defence Minister interacted with Project Seabird Contactors and Engineers and Officers, Sailors and Civilians of Karwar Naval Base. In his address, he expressed satisfaction at the progress of works being carried out under ‘Project Seabird’.
He hoped that after the completion of the project, the Kawar Naval Base would become Asia’s largest Naval base which would further bolster the operational readiness of the Armed Forces and help in augmenting trade, economy and humanitarian aid operations.
The Defence Minister complimented the Indian Navy for being a strong arm of the Armed Forces that is making an invaluable contribution towards maritime and national security, besides strengthening India’s position at the strategic as well as diplomatic and commercial levels.
He stated that the Navy is successfully discharging its duties of protecting the country, which through its coastline of more than 7,500 kms, about 1,300 islands and an exclusive economic zone of 2.5 million sq kms, is playing a crucial role in the development of the world.
Singh added that the Navy is continuously strengthening India’s relations with its maritime neighbors with a focus on ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in Region) envisioned by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He also praised the role of the Indian Navy during the Goa Liberation War of 1961 and the 1971 Indo-Pak war among others.
The Defence Minister lauded the efforts of Indian Navy for providing humanitarian assistance to not just the country, but the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From rescuing stranded Indian nationals from affected countries to ferrying in critical equipment, including oxygen cylinders, from abroad, Indian Navy has worked tirelessly in the fight against COVID-19. It also extended assistance to various countries,” he said. He also listed out a number of initiatives taken by the Government to promote self-reliance in defence manufacturing. The initiatives include allocation of 64 per cent of modernisation funds under capital acquisition budget for 2021-22 for domestic procurement, changes in Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 and an increase in FDI limit in the defence sector to 74 per cent.
In the efforts to boost self-reliance in the Indian Navy, Singh said that more than two-thirds of the Navy’s modernization budget has been spent on indigenous procurement in the last five financial years. Lauding the Navy’s commitment towards ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’, he stated that out of the 48 ships and submarines, 46 are being inducted through indigenous construction.
The Defence Minister described Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant as a shining example of Navy’s self-reliance efforts. He said the commissioning of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant will be a momentous occasion in the history of Indian defence as it is coinciding with the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence.
The Defence Minister was received by Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Naval Command Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar and Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Naval Area, Rear Admiral Mahesh Singh.
Singh inspected the ongoing works at the Naval Base and received on-site briefings including capability demonstration at the Shiplift Tower. He also undertook a tour of the Naval Harbour and reviewed the marine works/infrastructure being developed as part of Project Seabird Phase II A as also operationalisation of Piers.
The Defence Minister also visited the newly-constructed Sailors Married Accommodation which incorporates advanced features for water efficiency, handling of household waste, energy efficiency and provides environment-friendly houses.