Decks have been cleared for the proposed missile launch site at the coastal town of Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The petroleum ministry, which had expressed reservations over locating the missile testing range on the Andhra coast in view of the ongoing oil exploration activities in the K-G Basin, has finally given its nod, according to VK Saraswat, director general of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and scientific adviser to the Defence minister.
“The issues have been amicably sorted out,” he said on Saturday. Earlier, the Defence ministry too had objected to the oil exploration activities in certain blocks of the KG Basin citing security reasons.
Saraswat said the proposed launch site would be developed at an estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore. The defence organisation has already asked the state government to provide land for the facility, which is expected to take at least three years to get operationalised. The proposed launch site is an addition to similar facilities that the missile development programme currently has at Balasore, Chandipur and Wheeler Island in Odisha. These are being used to test both long and short range missiles including Agni.
The Machilipatnam facility would support the missile test site at Balasore besides facilitating long range missile launches and also help carry out tests for the ballistic missile defence shield currently under development, according to Saraswat.
Apart from the missile test range, the DRDO is establishing a directed energy weapons laboratory near Hyderabad, he said.