The Goa government has not allotted any land for holding Defence Expo 2016 in the state, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
“The Goa government was requested to make approximately 150 acres of land available for the purpose. However, it has not allotted any land formally for the purpose to the defence ministry,” Rao said in his response to a question from Congress MP from Goa Shantaram Naik, as to whether land had been formally allotted in the state for the expo.
Traditionally held alternately in the national capital and Bengaluru, the prestigious Defence Expo 2016 is being shifted to the Naqueri plateau in the picturesque coastal village of Betul in Goa as a new convention centre was being built at Pragati Maidan in Delhi.
The Defence Expo 2016 is the ninth in the series of the biennial Land, Naval and Internal Homeland Security Systems Exhibition organised by the defence ministry.
The choice of Goa as the new proposed location got a shot in the arm after former chief minister Manohar Parrikar was inducted into the Narendra Modi-led cabinet and made defence minister.
The move to shift the expo to Goa has, however, seen opposition from the Congress as well as a section of the civil society, which has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of converting the land meant for industrial purposes at Betul as a venue for the expo, which they claim “will not fetch lasting employment”.
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar lashed out at the critics of the BJP-led NDA government’s decision to offer the six lakh square metre land, acquired for industrial development, for setting up infrastructure for the expo.
Parsekar also slammed the critics of the expo saying that the government has only allotted the land to the defence ministry on a temporary basis for one year.
“We are only giving it on a trial basis for one year for the expo. If it benefits Goa, we can think about having it again,” Parsekar said.