India's submarine programme, which is already struggling to contain the damage done by the leak of its capabilities of the French Scorpene submarines being built in the country, is facing further delay over the production of the next generation of vessel, The Indian Express reports.
The Rs60,000-crore Project 75i, or the plan to build six submarines in a joint venture between Indian companies, where private or state and a foreign collaborator have failed to make headway because the government is unable to lay out a policy on choosing a strategic partner.
According to the paper's sources, the project is under 'Buy and Make (India)' of the Defence Procure Procedure (DPP), which implies tie-ups for technology with foreign collaborators with substantial manufacturing in India.
The amended DPP-2016, released earlier this year, has left a chapter on the selection of a strategic partner blank, paralysing any forward movement in the P75i programme.
''Due to a long delay in finalising the chapter on the strategic partnership, which seeks to allow private home-grown industry to be part of six critical areas of manufacturing in defence in the DPP-16, the Indian Navy's plans for moving forward with the next step in the project is now stuck,'' a defence source said.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, in April this year, had said that the chapter on identifying strategic private sector partners would take a couple of months before going to the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval. The six areas identified by the MoD in which, instead of the earlier process of handing out the contract to the lowest bidder, private domestic industry will be allowed to participate are - military aircraft, warships, submarines, armoured vehicles, complex weapons that rely on guidance system, command and control system and critical materials (special alloys and composites).
According to the government's decision, all six submarines will be built in India on the lines of the predecessor P75 Scorpene's production line at Mazgaon Docks Ltd, Mumbai.
Bids were invited from Indian shipyards to build the six submarines using transferred technology from a foreign partner. Project 75i is designed to purchase six next-generation diesel submarines with air-independent propulsion system technology by 2022.