Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that India “cannot remain dependent on other countries for its defence” while inaugurating Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s second Light Combat Aircraft production line in Bengaluru.

According to the 2021-’22 Union Budget documents presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament on Monday, the allocation for the defence services was increased to Rs 4.78 lakh crore compared to Rs 4.71 lakh crore in the 2020-’21 budget, PTI reported. This was a marginal hike of around 1.4%.

“Inaugurated the HAL’s new LCA-Tejas Production Line in Bengaluru today [Tuesday],” Singh tweeted. “Under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ India is looking forward to increase its defence manufacturing capabilities.”

The defence minister said that Tejas is not only indigenous but also “better than its foreign equivalents” on many parameters, adding that it is “also comparatively cheaper”. “Many countries have shown interest in Tejas,” Singh tweeted. “India will achieve the target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore in the field of defence manufacturing in few years.”

“This newly formed manufacturing unit of HAL is going to be a major step in strengthening HAL, Indian Air-force, and ‘Self-reliant India Campaign’,” Singh said. “And to the satisfaction that with this inauguration, my promise to you is also being fulfilled.”

Singh also highlighted that despite the coronavirus pandemic, HAL received a procurement order worth nearly Rs 50,000 crore. “This is the biggest procurement in the history of indigenous defence procurement,” he added. “This is a historic deal that will take the Indian aerospace sector to new heights.”

On January 13, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved a defence procurement deal, including that for the purchase of Tejas aircraft, at the cost of about Rs 48,000 crore. There are 73 light combat aircraft and 10 trainer jets acquired at the price of Rs 45,696 along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 1,202 crore.