As the Goa government prepares to host the Defexpo India 2016, the opposition voices even get louder. The event dates are fast approaching and question arises, what is the issue about? And which side has valid reasons?
About Defexpo 2016
The expo for the past 8 editions (current being the 9th) has always been held on Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. It is conducted every alternate even number year. The venue had to be changed due to renovation works. Goa was recommended as far back as 2012 as an alternative site for the exhibition by a joint committee of the defence ministry and the ministry of civil aviation.
Currently 843 companies have registered to participate and showcase their products. This is a new record for the exhibition, a direct jump from 600 odd exhibitors in 2014. The previous venue was criticized for its limitations. But the new location in Goa will provide the event with much needed flexibility, due to it being an open ground. It can be utilized according to the needs. Participants from 44 nations have registered till now.
The event features various defence firms displaying their products to the visitors. From heavy to light equipment, everything is on display (E. g. Tanks). Many B2B activities take place during the short period.
The Goa Government has said that land acquisition won’t be a problem because a part of the already acquired land for the purpose of setting up an Industrial estate will be utilized. The government has also said that many benefits can be derived from it. The delegates attending the event will utilize transport and hospitality facilities available in Goa, giving the state economic benefits. These benefits will also ring true for other allied industries.
Beyond that the event will be held for a limited time and the structures will be temporary in nature. Also Goa is not a permanent venue for it, the decision to host can be re-evaluated later. The land will be handed over to the Defence ministry for that short duration only.
Main reasons for the tussle, seems to be Environmental concerns and land acquisition. The opposition claims the plateau has good water retaining capacity and ecology. Which they fear may get disturbed.
Another reason seems to be the land allotment. Many have accused that once the land is allotted to the defence ministry it may never be released by them, opposition recounts past instances that has occurred. They are worried permanent structures may be built on the land. Reports also mentioned the land being used as a permanent venue.
They have also said that land was acquired for an industrial estate to be set up; this needs to be done in order to provide the locals with employment opportunities and should not be used for any other purposes. Defexpo may not be a very viable employment option since it happens in alternate years and for a very short duration.
Although both sides have valid arguments on their part, both concerned parties need to understand “one hand cannot clap”. Hence the government needs to make it a priority that people from surrounding areas have direct benefits from Defexpo 2016. Otherwise it is of no use diverting the land allotted for an industrial estate.
Secondly, there are some who are using the issue only to gain political mileage. Would it have been opposed with the same enthusiasm, if instead of Defexpo 2016 the government was developing an industrial estate in the same area? And was there an opposition from the environment enthusiast when the land was acquired?
Question remains whose right is it to oppose, people who are actually affected by it? Or anyone who claims to be? There much dust in the air and the picture will be clear ones it settles.