Parrikar: HAL may acquire EDC’s GAAL
COLVA/PANAJI: Promising to generate employment for Goans, defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday hinted that negotiations with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to take over Goa Auto Accessories Limited (GAAL) were in the final stages of completion. Defence ministry sources said Parrikar had convinced French aerospace firm Safran to partner HAL and overhaul helicopter engines in Goa under the 50% defence offset clause in the $8.8 billion deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets.
Parrikar was speaking at the launch function of the Jyotirmay scheme at Margao. He went on to say that he took the cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s make in India programme to convince HAL to acquire GAAL’s plant at Honda, Satteri and added that the French company would overhaul old helicopters that have completed 600 to 1500 hours of flying hours to make them air worthy again.
Once the engines are overhauled, the choppers will have to be certified by HAL before being deployed back in service. “All this activity would be carried out in Goa, which will create employment in the state,” Parrikar said.
GAAL, a subsidiary of the economic development corporation (EDC) which manufactured automobile components for Tata Motors Limited, was shut down in 2015 after EDC chose to exit the running of companies and focus on its core task of providing finance. Initially, Goa Shipyard along with Bharat Electricals and Bharat Dynamics had showed interest in GAAL’s factory, which included sheet metal machinery and equipment.
EDC Chairman Sidharth Kuncalienker confirmed that talks were in the final stages with HAL to take over EDC’s 100% stake. “Discussions began three to four months ago and are a continuous process. They will only repair engines,” Kuncalienker said.
French company Safran is the company behind the M88 engine in the Rafale fighter jet and the Shakti engine for India’s advanced light helicopters. Safran’s Shakti engine powers the twin-engine Dhruv and multi-role Light Combat Helicopter.
Parrikar emphasized that in another few months employment in the state would increase as his ministry had worked out a plan whereby helicopters would be overhauled in Goa and for this manpower will be required.
Initially, he said, around 1,000 helicopters will be repaired and the number will steadily rise to 5,000 in the coming years and this would be a good employment opportunity for Goan youth.
Parrikar said his government is also open to other companies coming forward to take up this venture, but the plant will have to be set up in Goa.