DefExpo 2016: Bombay HC refuses ad-interim relief

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Panaji, March 23 (IANS) The Bombay High Court’s Panaji bench on Wednesday refused ad-interim relief while hearing a petition opposing the holding of ‘DefExpo 2016’, and adjourned the case to March 30.

The petition filed by civil society organisation Orixtt Porjecho Avaz (OPA) opposed the DefExpo 2016 at Naqueri plateau in Betul village, 45 km from Panaji, citing what it said were “procedural irregularities” and “refusal of permission” by local village panchayats.

The group demanded that preparations for the expo, which are in full swing, be stopped until the court reached a decision.

On Wednesday, the high court heard the lawyers of both the petitioner and the state administration, before refusing to grant the ad-interim stay on preparatory work for the expo.

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The court also directed the OPA to file a response to an affidavit by the Goa government before the next hearing.

The OPA had pleaded that DefExpo 2016 organisers, that is, the Defence Ministry, had not sought permission from the Town and Country Planning Department, Goa State Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Health Department, Biodiversity Board, Chief Wildlife Warden and Directorate of Science, Technology and Environment, which it said was mandatory for hosting an event of such magnitude.

Traditionally held in the national capital, the DefExpo 2016 is scheduled to be held in Goa in the last week of March, as a new convention centre is coming up at Pragati Maidan in Delhi.

The DefExpo 2016, ninth in a series of biennial land, naval and internal homeland security systems exhibitions, has been criticised by the opposition and civil society over the allocation of six lakh square metre land at Betul.

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The critics claim lack of transparency in decision-making, which led to the relocation of the event to Betul.

The four-day event is expected to see participation of over one lakh delegates from nearly 50 countries from March 28.

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