Willing to engage critics of Defexpo 2016: Goa CM

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Panaji, Feb 24 (IANS) Even as the opposition and civil society groups on Wednesday stopped trucks carrying material required to set up temporary infrastructure for Defexpo 2016, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said he was willing to explain to them its merits.

Addressing a press conference at his official residence late on Wednesday, Parsekar said efforts were being made to tarnish the image of his government, especially when elections to the assembly were less than a year away, on the issue of hosting the international event organised by the Defence Ministry in Goa.

“The Defence Expo is going to be the biggest ever in its history. There are over 800 companies, half of which are from foreign countries, which will be a part of the four-day expo. The expo will give a business of nearly Rs.300 crore to Rs.400 crore to the Goans. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to put Goa on the world map,” Parsekar said, adding that the state alone would benefit by Rs.100 crore in direct and indirect taxes from the expo.

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Earlier, several hundred protestors led by members of the Congress and the Roman Catholic church-backed ‘Orixxit Projecho Awaz’ stopped event organisers from transporting material to set up the main air-conditioned tent at the Defexpo site in Betul village in south Goa, 45 km from Panaji.

Parsekar said the south Goa district administration had called all protesting groups to attend a presentation related to the expo, in which efforts would be made to respond to queries raised by the critics of the project.

The Defexpo 2016, the ninth in the series of biennial land, naval and internal homeland security systems exhibitions organised by the ministry, has attracted opposition from the BJP-led government’s political opponents as well as a section of civil society.

Parsekar and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar have said that land was handed over to the defence ministry for the expo on a temporary basis only.

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“It is only a temporary allocation for four days,” the chief minister again said on Wednesday.

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