Noida is likely to take over from Pragati Maidan as the venue for the next Delhi Auto Expo in 2014.

The biennial event will now see cars, two-wheelers and trucks housed in neighbouring Noida (Uttar Pradesh), while Pragati Maidan will continue to play host to the auto components sector.

Top sources who spoke to Business Line were almost unanimous that there is absolutely no space at Pragati Maidan and its creaky infrastructure is worrying. Noida is the best bet for an ideal location near the Capital,

Post the 2012 edition, companies had protested vehemently about the uncontrollable crowds, filthy toilets and messy food stalls. “It was absolutely disgusting and we had a terrible time right through the event,” a participant recalled.

Scarce attention has been paid to Pragati Maidan over the years and it is in dire need of a makeover.

Automakers see little sense in spending so much on hiring halls when they get so little in return. Yet, they did not have a choice as this was a big event which they could not give a miss.

Companies have also been intimidated by the huge crowds that throng each Auto Expo. “On some days, there would be thousands of people packed like sardines in some of the halls. We were worried to death about a stampede,” a company official said.

When participants thought they had seen the worst at the 2010 Expo, they were aghast to see things turn worse two years later.

“It was absolutely horrific for international visitors who had seen top-class shows in Shanghai, Geneva and Paris. Delhi was a complete mess,” the official added.

It now remains to be seen if the components industry will be content to stay isolated at Pragati Maidan, while the rest of their associates will be part of a swanky venue.

The expo is all about networking and it is not going to be the easiest of tasks working out the logistics from Pragati Maidan to Noida which is quite some distance away.

It is also not clear how the organisers of the Expo — CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) and ACMA (Automotive Component Manufacturers’ Association) — will jointly plan the new business model. There are barely 15 months to go before the 2014 Expo.

gmurali@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 13, 2012)
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