As controversy erupted over reports that the venue of Aero India show could be shifted to Lucknow from Bangalore, the defence ministry on Saturday finally announced that the airshow will be held in Karnataka capital, where it was traditionally held.
Issuing a press release, the ministry said that the five-day event will be held from 20-24 February 2019. It will comprise a major trade exhibition for the aerospace and defence industries, and public air shows. "Besides global leaders and big investors in aerospace industry, the show will also see participation by think-tanks from across the world. It will provide a unique opportunity for exchange of information, ideas and new developments in the aviation industry," read the statement.
The tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh and the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka over the venue of the Aero India 2019 erupted after reports emerged that the biennial event may be organised at the Bakshi Ka Talab air force base in Lucknow in October. PTI had quoted sources from the defence ministry as saying that they had received requests from a number of states including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh to host the next Aero India show.
Aero India — considered the largest aerospace exhibition in Asia — has traditionally been organised at Indian Air Force's Yelahanka air base on the outskirts of Bengaluru since its inception in 1996.
The reports gathered more weight after Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath made a request to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to select Lucknow as the venue for Aero India on 11 August. "I request the defence minister to hold the Aero India show in Uttar Pradesh. We will provide every type of facility. In this context, I request her to announce this at the earliest so that we can proceed with the preparations," Adityanath had said.
This irked and upset the Karnataka government, which has played host to the defence airshow since its inception in 1996. Seeking to put pressure on the Centre, Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy fired a missive to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, insisting that Bengaluru would be the "best choice" for the biennial event on 13 August.
"Bengaluru being the hub for defence and aviation majors of the country, is certainly the most suitable place to conduct the show," he said in the letter. He also asked Sitharaman to clarify her stance.
The next day, Sitharaman said that there was no move to shift Aero India 2019 from Bengaluru to Lucknow.
Experts felt that moving the venue of Aero India from Bengaluru would be detrimental to India's chances of emerging as Asia's manufacturing hub. Arun Sahni, a former Indian Army commander, wrote in a Firstpost article that Bengaluru is home to Indian aviation and space, with both HAL and ISRO being headquartered there since Independence, and has seen a steady growth in the number of MSMEs in the region. "Bengaluru has therefore gradually become India's centre of startups and home to the aviation industry. It would be fair to state that the permanency of the event has created an interdependent aviation ecosystem in the extended region around Bengaluru," Sahni wrote.
In the 11th edition of Aero India, held from February 14-18, 2017, 549 global and Indian firms from 51 countries participated.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 08, 2018 12:10:00 IST