The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has issued 81 industrial licences to 61 companies to make various defence items since the launch of the "Make in India" initiative in September 2014, said Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

According to an official statement released by the government, the DIPP has so far issued 307 Letters of Intents or Industrial Licences (ILs) to 182 public and private firms to till October 2015 for manufacture of a wide range of defence items.

Of these, 50 licensed companies covering 79 industrial licences have reported commencement of production.

He also said 34 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals or joint ventures have been approved in the defence sector since 2000 for manufacture of various defence items, both with public and private sector firms.

Outlining the steps the government has taken to boost the "Make in India" initiative in the defence sector, Singh said a November 2015 revision in the FDI policy allows foreign investment up to 49% through the automatic route and above 49% in the government route on case-to-case basis.

He also said Exchange Rate Variation protection has been allowed on the foreign exchange component to all Indian companies, including those in the private sector, in all categories of capital acquisitions, so as to create a level playing field. Anomalies in excise or customs duty have also been removed, he said.

The Defence Products List for the purpose of issuing ILs under the Industries Development and Regulation (IDR) Act has been revised and most of the components, parts, subsystems, testing equipment and production equipment have been removed from it, said Singh.

He said the initial validity of the Ils granted under the IDR Act has been increased from seven years to 15 years with a provision to further extend it by three years on a case-to-case basis.