State-owned Troop Comforts Limited (TCL) has supplied 5,000 pair of snow boots to Nepal armed police force, bagging its first export order to complement the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) push for Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
Top TCL officials told businessline that the export order for boots, worth close to Rs 2 crore, was executed in June, this year, and the Nepal armed police force has also shown interest in items like the extreme condition winter clothing system (ECWCS), which the government enterprise has developed through its own research and development after the MoD banned its import, snow cloves, snow socks, snow jersey. A team of TCL top brass also visited Nepal early this month to explore the market for its other range of military items including parachute, ballastic helmets and chests, sources said.
Not just Nepal, TCL has also got export queries from the Sri Lanka navy for surveillance drones. TCL sources stated that they are trying to get a foothold in the drone segment and in one domestic tender, the defence public sector undertaking (PSU) has emerged ‘L1’ due to its lowest bid.
To augment exports, the TCL is trying to sign MoUs with overseas channel partners, such as, in Bulgaria, Serbia, Ethiopia, Morocco, Romania, Poland, Moldavia, Hungary, and Slovakia. Besides, the TCL is also enhancing its capacity and capability by undertaking modernisation drive to establish a manufacturing facility for the unarmed aerial vehicle, creating production capacity of injection moulded boots, snow boots, and anti-skid boots, informed government enterprise sources. This would, it is learnt, be done over a period of four financial years beginning from 2023-24 and incur a cost of over Rs 148 crore.
One of the reasons for the modernisation of the capacity is the enormous potential, explained TCL sources, of bagging contracts from the Ministry of Home Affairs for Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) including BSF, CRPF, ITBP, and CISF.
For upgrading the quality of its products, the TCL is looking to have tie-ups with foreign manufacturers in niche areas. Officials stated that they are exploring with Scarpa, the Italian manufacturer of backcountry skiing, mountaineering, trekking, and climbing, to have in-house development of specialised multipurpose boots required for the Indian Army for high altitude areas. Similarly, it’s in talks with another Italian company, CAMP Spa, for high altitude mountaineering equipment. With Richener of Switzerland, TCL is trying to bring in new technology for down-based garments for super high altitude areas, company sources revealed.
For this financial year, TCL has confirmed orders worth Rs 324.79 crore from Army, IAF, and Navy and expects another over Rs 82 crore worth contracts to materialise, said a senior official of the defence PSU.
In October 2021, the Centre corporatised former Ordnance Factory Boards to convert them into seven new defence companies to make them professionally competent and output oriented. TCL is one of them.