Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday attacked the Congress for "using" the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as a pretext to level allegations against his government and instigate people.
"Today, HAL's helicopter factory stands as a testimony that has exposed the lies and misinformation spread about HAL", Modi said, without naming the Congress, after inaugurating the Bengaluru-headquartered company's helicopter factory -- the country's largest chopper manufacturing facility -- at Bidarehalla kaval in Gubbi taluk of this district.
“The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was used as a pretext to level allegations against our government. Conspiracies were hatched to instigate people. Today the HAL is advancing our motto of 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat',” he said.
The then Congress president Rahul Gandhi had during 2017-18 said there was a need to "defend the dignity of India's defenders" as he accused the Narendra Modi government of "snatching" the Rafale offset contract from HAL and "gifting" it to Anil Ambani's company.
Also watch: Adani row: Rahul Gandhi targets PM Modi, he will try its best to stop discussion in Parliament
"HAL is India's strategic asset. The future of India's aerospace industry has been destroyed by snatching #Rafale from HAL & gifting it to Anil Ambani," the Congress leader had said.
Rahul Gandhi and his Congress party at the time were attacking the Modi government over the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal alleging corruption and favouritism.
Modi recalled that he had in 2016 laid the foundation stone of the factory which was inaugurated today, with a resolve that India has to minimise its defence imports and become self-reliant.
"Now, hundreds of defence equipment are manufactured in India", he pointed out.
Hailing the contribution of HAL, he said the investment in the Aerospace sector in the last eight to nine years is five times more than the figure witnessed in the 15-year period before 2014.
HAL plans to produce more than 1,000 helicopters in the range of 3-15 tonnes, with a total business of over Rs four lakh crore over a period of 20 years, at this facility in Gubbi taluk, officials said.
Spread across 615 acres of land, the factory, for which the PM laid the foundation stone in 2016, would initially manufacture Light Utility Helicopters (LUH)).
The factory will enable India to meet its entire requirement of helicopters without import and giving much needed fillip to the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ in helicopter design, development, and manufacture, they said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and senior officials of Ministry of Defence were among those present on the occasion.
"It is a dedicated new greenfield helicopter factory which will enhance India's capacity & ecosystem to build helicopters", Rajnath Singh said.
The Prime Minister unveiled the LUH, which has been flight tested.
He also laid the foundation stone for Tumakuru Industrial Township, and 'Jal Javeen Mission' projects in Tiptur and Chikkanayakanahalli taluks of the district in Karnataka, where Assembly polls are due by May.
The LUH is an indigenously designed and developed 3-ton class, single engine multipurpose utility helicopter. Initially, the factory will produce around 30 helicopters per year and can be enhanced to 60 and then 90 per year in a phased manner, according to the Defence Ministry.
The factory will be augmented to produce other helicopters such as Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs) and Indian Multirole Helicopters (IMRHs). It will also be used for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul of LCH, LUH, Civil Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and IMRH in the future.
Potential exports of civil LUH will also be catered to from this factory, which is being equipped with state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 standard tools and techniques for its operations, officials said.
The proximity of the factory, to the existing HAL facilities in Bengaluru, will boost the aerospace manufacturing ecosystem in the region and support skill & infrastructure development such as schools, colleges and residential areas, it was noted.
With the establishment of facilities like Heli-Runway, Flight Hangar, Final Assembly Hangar, Structure Assembly Hangar, Air Traffic Control and various supporting service facilities, the factory is fully operational, they said.
Also watch: Survey: PM Modi rated most popular global leader; leaves Biden, Sunak behind