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Largest-ever DefExpo hosted by India concludes

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QUEPEM, GOA (PTI): The largest-ever DefExpo hosted by India concluded in Goa on Thursday with over 1,000 firms from across the world taking part in the event.

About 1,055 companies, with Indian companies outnumbering foreign firms, over 900 delegations and 47 countries participated in the event, which was themed on the 'Make in India' initiative.

A Defence Ministry statement said scores of people came from around Goa to attend the exhibition on Thursday, when it was open to public.

"The largest response to the exhibition was from the local population," the Ministry said.

However, the event also saw some protests by locals who had objections over the venue chosen for hosting it.

A drive through Quepem taluka saw protesters wearing black clothes and holding placards against the event. "Don't turn Goa into an arms hub', 'No DefExpo' were some of the slogans written on the placards.

For the first two days, cars with DefExpo stickers were not allowed to drive through the nearby villages as a security measure.

However, the event ran smoothly without any incident. But foreign delegates and domestic exhibitors did face some issues at the venue itself.

The road leading to the venue was very narrow and there were frequent jams. Also, there were no good hotels nearby and most delegates stayed outside the 20km radius. Even senior Defence Ministry officials stayed in Vasco da Gama, over an hour-long drive from the venue.

Exhibitors also rued poor cell phone connectivity in the area.

For many foreign exhibitors, the dates of DefExpo (March 28-31) posed issues as it fell within the Easter holidays.

"Mostly, for such an exhibition, everybody in our company wants to come down. However, this time at least half of them could not," said a foreign delegate. Lack of proper air conditioning, meeting rooms and Wi-Fi added to their woes.

Officials described these issues as "teething troubles", saying the DefExpo was being held outside the national capital for the first time.

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