Defence Minister inaugurates DefExpo 2016
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar inaugurated the four-day biennial defence event in Goa. The first three days of the event dedicated to defence equipment-trade are limited to delegates but, the expo is open to the public on the fourth day. Defence Ministry stated that it was an excellent opportunity to project India's indigenous capabilities to design, develop and deliver a wide range of defence equipment/services.
DefExpo, one of India's largest exhibitions and the biggest trade show of the world's homeland, maritime and land security, was announced to be held in Goa. It would be the first time that the biennial event was going to be held outside Pragati Maidan, Delhi. It was started about 15 years ago, and several countries from across the globe take part in the event.
The Defence Exhibition Organization had approached the Goa Government to organize the event because of the non-availability of Pragati Maidan. Congress in Goa had alleged that the Defence Ministry and the Goa Government were plotting to acquire more than the allotted land. Congress questioned the Goa Government over the secret plan of building an air force base without the knowledge of the locals.
The event had faced objection from several locals and environmentalists who had protested against the allotment of land to the Defence Ministry. The protestors claimed that the land was eco-sensitive and home to endangered wildlife. They stated that the government had announced that the land was being allotted temporarily for the event but, later they found that the Defence Ministry acquired the land permanently.
Protesters had blocked roads leading to the land and interrupted the construction of the infrastructure related to the expo. Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar had warned that he would file a police case against anyone trying to cause obstruction to the event.
Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar had stated that the DefExpo would commence as scheduled and the protests were carried out by non-locals with support from certain political parties. Parsekar said that the locals were falling prey to false propaganda as the event would benefit Goa immensely. He added that the event would boost the tourism in Goa and businesses right from taxi services to hotels.
Reliance ADA Chairman Anil Ambani would deliver the Special Address on the second day of the expo in an event called 'Make in India for Defence Sector' hosted by ASSOCHAM Global Investors Summit.
The Defence Ministry had stated that over thousand companies from 47 countries had registered to showcase their weapons at DefExpo 2016 from 28-31 March 2016. According to the ministry, countries like Russia, USA, Republic of Korea, Sweden, UAE, Portugal and Switzerland confirmed their attendance. Reportedly, Israel would have the biggest exhibition pavilion at the event. However, China and Pakistan weren't invited for the event.