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PBD: No takers for West Bengal, Goa and J&K

By Ramananda Sengupta in Hyderabad
January 10, 2006 00:11 IST
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"Please don't go."

That was the plaintive plea by a senior Goa government official as one of the less than six visitors attending his presentation at the 4th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas got up to leave halfway through the presentation.

Complete coverage: Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2006

If there was standing room only at the interactive sessions held by states like Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh on the second day of the conference, other states like Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal and Goa found that their officials outnumbered the delegates attending their sessions.

In the case of Goa, this was compounded by the fact that they had to shift their venue at the last moment after Bihar Chief minister Nitish Kumar refused to conclude his session within the time allotted to him despite repeated requests. Goan officials, after fretting and fuming outside for an hour, decided to shift their session to another room. But by then, many people who may have wanted to attend their session had moved on.

"I wish there were some people here," rued S S Kapur, principal secretary to the government of Jammu and Kashmir as he surveyed the five or six people who took time out to attend his presentation.

A disgusted official from West Bengal wondered what he would do would with all the presentation packs meant for delegates left over from the meeting.

"Either I give them away, or throw them away. I can't cart them all the way back to Kolkata," muttered an official as he sneaked a cigarette outside the room allotted to his state, waiting hopefully for a few more delegates.

The governments and services, mostly banks, which had set up stalls showcasing their states and services for the delegates complained that the halls in which they had been placed were too far from the main complex, and that not too many delegates were willing to make the extra effort to visit them braving the noon-day sun.

"In Mumbai, at least the delegates were forced to go through the stalls before they could reach the venue. Here, half of them probably don't even know of our existence, and even if he do, they find the intense security outside the entrance to the halls a irritant," complained a official manning a booth for a bank offering NRI services. "We haven't had a single customer since yesterday."

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Ramananda Sengupta in Hyderabad