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860 firms to attend Goa Def Expo

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PANAJI (PTI): While local people at Betul in south Goa continued opposition to the Defence Expo and stopped trucks carrying construction material, the state government said the event would be held as planned from March 28 to 31.

"We are hosting the Defence Expo between March 28-31.

Some elements are spreading false propaganda about the event," Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar told reporters here on Wednesday, hours after hundreds of protesters stopped trucks carrying material for fencing from reaching the site.

However, the protesters, led by Congress MLA Chandrakant Kavlekar and independent MLA Vijai Sardessai, alleged that the land of the villagers would be acquired permanently on the pretext of the Expo.

Parsekar said the Expo was getting a huge response from defence firms. "In 2014, when it was held in Delhi, 550 companies participated. This time the number has gone up and 860 companies have registered, of which more than 50 per cent are foreign firms," the CM said.

He said about 5,000 delegates and more than one lakh 'business visitors', half of them foreigners, were expected.

"The entire infrastructure will be created on 1.50 lakh square metres area. The entire logistical equipment, worth Rs 400 crore, would be purchased from local vendors.

Almost all the five-star, four-star and three-star hotels are booked for the event. It is being held during a lean tourism season, so these four days will boost the tourism economy," the Chief Minister stated.

He also said that to quell the fears, the South District collector had arranged a special presentation tomorrow and those opposing the Expo had been invited.

It was an opportunity for Goa to prove that a small state like it too can host a mega international event, Parsekar said, adding "this will help in marketing Goa across the world free of cost as we are not spending any money on the Expo."

The state government has clarified many times that the Expo was only for four days and all the structures put up on the site would be temporary, the chief minister said.

"It is a very proud moment for Goa that it has got such a major opportunity. However, fortunately or unfortunately, the event has come during an election year and hence the opponents are trying to turn it into an election issue," Parsekar said.

Without naming anybody, he said some people were "instigating" the local people.

Earlier in the day, three trucks loaded with material for fencing were sent back by hundreds of protesters at Betul.

Freddy Fernandes of Orixtt Porjecho Avaz, a local group, said the government did not take the people into confidence before finalising the site.

"They are planning to lay foundation stone tomorrow. That also will not be allowed," Fernandes said.

On February 15, the protesters had sent back district officials who had come to inspect the site.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had clarified last month that there will be no land acquisition for the Expo.

MLA Sardessai alleged that Parrikar had been summoning police and government officers and others to Delhi and giving them instructions to continue with preparations.

"There is a picture on the Facebook where superintendent of police (south) Shekhar Prabhudessai is seen (with Parrikar). The collector was also summoned to Delhi," the MLA said.

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India  Goa  DefExpo  Exhibition  Military  
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