Sirsi (Karnataka): Defence Minister AK Antony on Saturday said the Phase-II of Sea Bird Naval Project, to be completed by 2017-18, would have ultra modern facilities for berthing at least 30 warships at Karwar in Karnataka.

The Centre also has a plan to take up another expansion to ensure that Karwar naval base can handle 50 major warships, he said, after inaugurating an integrated defence-civilian township.

Karwar would not only decongest the over-crowded Mumbai harbour but also provide India with much-needed strategic depth and operational flexibility on the western seaboard, Antony said.

The Centre had already paid Rs 127 crore compensation to those displaced by the project, he said, adding the government awaited the Supreme Court verdict on a petition filed by Naval authorities challenging Karnataka High Court order directing it to pay Rs 1,500 as compensation per gunta of land (one gunta is 1/40th of an acre) acquired for the project.

The Defence Minister said once the Apex Court verdict was pronounced, the second phase of the project would commence.

On Netrani Island being used by the Naval base though it was declared as bio-diversity heritage site by the state, Antony said, the Naval base will ensure that environmental concerns were addressed.

Responding to a plea by District In-charge Minister Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri that local youth be provided employment opportunities, Antony said over 1,500 ITI personnel have been recruited for providing technical training to the locals who had been affected by Sea Bird Naval Project.

Navy may induct 'Kawach' rockets

State of the art 'Kawach' rockets being developed by Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) is likely to be inducted into Indian Navy sometime in 2013.

"We have made two prototype and first trial has been successfully conducted while the second trial will be conducted sometime this year before its final induction into the Indian Navy in 2013," OFB Director General and Chairman D M Gupta said on Saturday.

Kawach, to be launched from Navy submarines, will have a range of 40 km.

He also informed that the OFB is in the process of investing Rs 6,800 crore over the next five years and will be taking up many new products like new generation assault rifles, very short range air defence missiles, latest generation artillery guns and ammunitions through technology transfer.

While ruling out the possibility of setting up new factories, he said OFB is in the process of expanding existing ones by utilising surplus land since acquiring it was a problem for new units.

Gupta said 'Pinaca' rockets manufactured at Ordnance Factory at Ambajhari here have been well-received by the Indian Army and the OFB which presently manufactures 1000 rockets per year, has a demand five times higher and it might consider increasing its capacity to cope up with the demand. About the research and development activities, Gupta said though the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) is entrusted with the responsibility of R and D, the OFB Board has approached the Government proposing to carry out R and D activities at its 12 centres.

Meanwhile, talking about its performance in terms of numbers, Gupta said the OFB has registered a growth rate of 29 per cent and achieved issue value (turnover) of Rs 11,232 crore in 2010\11 against Rs 8715 crore during the year 2009-10.

He said the target for the current fiscal is Rs 12,500 crore.