India should aim to be among world's top 3 naval powers in 10-12 years: Rajnath Singh

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(Adds details) Karwar (Karnataka), Jun 24 (PTI) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the naval base being developed here under 'Project Seabird' should be Asia's biggest, and he would try to get budget allocation enhanced for it, if required.

He also said India should aim to be among one of the top three naval powers in the world in the next 10-12 years time.

'I had a curiosity before visiting Project Seabird to see and understand it...I'm happy seeing Karwar closely and can say that my confidence level has increased towards this naval base,' Singh said.

Addressing the Indian Navy officers and sailors, he said, with the completion of the project, not only India's defence preparedness will be strengthened, but also the country's trade, economy and the humanitarian assistance that it provides will also get more strength.

'It is said that this will become India's largest naval base, but I have said not only India's, our wish is that this should become Asia's biggest naval base, and I will try to get budget allocation increased if required for this,' he added.

Singh, accompanied by Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, undertook an aerial survey of project area and sites, prior to arriving at INS Kadamba Helipad here.

Stating that during the aerial survey of the project, he could see its future, the Defence Minister said, the future of this naval base is 'very bright' and the credit for this has to go to the officers and sailors.

'I have also seen the country's first sealift facility, which will improve our maintenance compared to earlier...so I say this naval base is different from the rest,' he said.

Noting that India's strength is growing, Singh said, '..India is now among the five major naval powers in the world, we should aim to be among the top three in the next ten to twelve years.' Indian Navy's contribution in maritime and national security is immense, Singh said.

Not only him, but those with the knowledge on security-related issues are of the view that the Navy will play the most important role in the country's security in the future, he added.

Citing the role played by the navy in the past like the liberation of Goa, and India-Pakistan wars, among others, he said there is Navy's role in improving diplomatic relations and recalled the service rendered by it during the COVID pandemic, which has gained appreciation from other countries too.

'Some countries have come close to us, it is because of you,' he said, adding, in this way not only as a defence power, the Navy has also safeguarded the country's global interests.

Highlighting the Navy's role in improving trade and cultural ties with other countries, Singh said, 'we have 7,500 km of coastline, 1,100 islands, 25 lakh sq km of exclusive economic zones that can play an important role in the development of the world with the help of our capabilities and capacity.' 'Sometimes we forget our own capability in front of other global powers.....with courage we can achieve things, victory can be achieved during a fight with courage and not only because of ammunition.' 'You might have seen, we have proved it (victory with courage).. this time, I don't want to take any names, you are aware of it, it is in our defence forces,' he said.

Noting the Navy's role in maintaining peace and development in the Indian Ocean Region, and in realising the PM's vision of 'SAGAR' (Security & Growth for All in Region), Singh said, at the time when economic and political relations are fast changing, there is a need for Indian Navy to be strengthened further.

'We have to be prepared for the future, we will have to improve our capacity and capability,' he said.

There are no shortcomings in mutual coordination between the country's tri-services, 'but we have thought about further improving it.' Singh said that the Defence Ministry is also taking up certain reforms.

Speaking on self-reliance in the defence sector, he said 64 per cent of the capital procurement budget will only be for domestic procurement and several changes have been made in the defence acquisition procedure.

As many as 46 out of 48 ships and submarines being procured are being built in Indian shipyards, Singh said, adding, Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, INS Vikrant will be completed soon and is likely to be commissioned as the country completes 75 years of Independence.

The Defence Minister is also scheduled to visit Kochi to review the progress of construction of the indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) there.PTI KSU RS BN BALA BN BALA

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