Severe space crunch, owing to the ongoing construction at the iconic Pragati Maidan exhibition grounds, has cut this year’s India International Trade Fair (IITF) down to size.
The largest annual fair held in the Capital, the 38th edition of the IITF, is having to make do with only five pavilions, down from an average of 12 till last year. This, coupled with the fact that central ministries cornered large swathes of available exhibition space, has led to a drop in private business participation, an official from the India Trade Promotion Organisation, which conducts the fair, said.
This includes the Ministries of Minority Affairs, Rural Development, and Commerce and Industry, among others. However, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, C R Chaudhary, said that 40 per cent of participating manufacturers are from the micro, small and medium enterprises sector in rural areas of the country and need to be taken care of.
“I’ve been a regular to the IITF for the past three years and the display space has shrunk massively this time and we are not sure when the renovations would end. At least, we don’t have to pay rent for the stall,” Shameena Bibi from West Bengal, a seller of handloom saris and a beneficiary of the government’s Hunaar Haat programme, said.
However, participating exhibitors said rent prices haven’t gone up, compared to the previous years. Also, private business may not have to mourn the loss of significant business as visitor numbers too have been curtailed to a limit of 25,000-30,000 visitors per day.
But the number of total participants in 2018 has gone down to 800, from 7,000 participants occupying an exhibition area of more than 100,000 square metres back in 2016, when the fair was held weeks after the demonetisation drive. A reminder from that year, mobile automated teller machines have been requisitioned this year as well since most consumers are still comfortable paying in cash, an organiser said. “Unfortunately the most conspicuous item on ground this year - the sanitary napkin vending machines set up within each pavilion - is getting the cold shoulder,” he added.
The goods and services tax (GST) network has also set up a special helpdesk within the premises to help non-resident taxable persons (foreign businesses not registered anywhere in India) and casual taxpayers (those registered outside Delhi) to complete their GST-related obligations.
“Non-resident taxable persons are classified as any individual or business who occasionally undertakes transactions involving the supply of goods or services or both, whether as principal or agent or in any other capacity, but who has no fixed place of business or residence in India,” a tax department official said.
The redevelopment plan for the historic Pragati Maidan exhibition ground aims to develop more than 3.26 lakh square metre of built-up area, including 1.19 square million of exhibition space, a convention centre with seating capacity of 7,000 people with many different-sized meeting rooms, space for public circulation in phase-I.
The National Green tribunal recently dismissed a plea against the grand plan which had sought to quash the environmental clearance granted to ITPO.
Beginning Wednesday, the fair will be have 4 business days and will be thrown open to the public from Sunday to November 27.
The largest contingent of foreign sellers are from Afghanistan, the partner country while the focus country is Nepal. Sellers from China, Iran, Netherlands, South Korea, Vietnam and UAE can also be found.