Our Bureau

Thriuvananthapuram, Jan. 21

THE public sector Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation (Keltron), which is digging its heels deeper into the production of defence-related systems, has bagged orders worth Rs 16 crore from the Indian Navy this month.

The orders are for electro-magnetic log, retransmission units, dual channel under-water telephones and echo sounders, according to Mr V. Ramkumar, Managing Director, Keltron.

Briefing newspersons on the company's increasing involvement in defence-related production, he said the Special Products Division catering to requirements of Defence is now having an all-time high order book position of Rs 43 crore for supply of products such as processor-based ground mine, radar interface units, steering gear control systems and personal rescue beacon.

The division is all set to touch a 50 per cent growth in its production, taking its turnover to Rs 20 crore. This will constitute over 20 per cent of the total turnover of Keltron.

Mr Ramkumar said the company had indigenously developed electro-magnetic log to measure the speed and the distance travelled by ships. This equipment has successfully passed sea trials, environmental tests as per Joint Services Standards and the Indian Navy has cleared it for inducting into ships. The Navy has placed orders worth Rs 4 crore for 17 units of the new product.

He noted that Keltron is one of the four Indian companies participating in the country's prestigious aircraft carrier project. It has received an order worth Rs 1 crore for engineering and manufacturing of a dual channel under-water telephone for the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Goroshkov, being procured by the Indian Navy.

Keltron, the lone supplier of processor-based ground mine, an important import substitution armament, has handed over its 101st unit to the Navy on Thursday. In all, the company has received orders for 150 such mines.

Mr Ramkumar said Keltron has spare capacity to undertake the production of defence-related systems in which it created proven expertise over the last decade. Accordingly, the segment has been identified as a thrust area for the future growth of the company.

He pointed out that the task force, constituted by the Centre some time ago, had cited "synergy between Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and some of the units of Keltron". However, a final outcome in the matter of the take-over of Keltron by the Centre is yet to emerge.

He said the company has taken up the matter with the Centre and the State Government and has also requested the Members of Parliament from the State to put in their efforts to get it off the block. If not total take-over, the Defence can accord the status of a "preferred vendor" to Keltron, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 22, 2005)
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