Exhibitors and buyers were left searching for the elusive ‘Swachh Bharat’ at the three-day global textile and handicrafts event Textiles India 2017, as many of them complained of dirty toilets at the marquee of the mega trade show flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. From transportation issues to standing in long queues, getting identification cards, improper lighting at exhibition stalls and lack of cleanliness at the venue, exhibitors, who paid Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh to book stalls, were in for a rude shock at Helipad Ground when the much touted trade show got underway.
Also, incessant rainfall over the past few days made the situation worse. Krishan K Chaudry, president at KVM International Fashions Ltd, a buyer from the USA, asked panellists at ‘Advanced Technology in Textile Manufacturing’ why the mega trade show was held in Gandhinagar instead of Delhi. He, however, was told by organisers who were also among the panellists, to ask questions relevant to the event.
Later, he told The Indian Express, “Where is the cleanliness we were promised as part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan? This is not how a trade show at the international level is managed. To use the bathrooms, we have to go back to our hotels, the condition here is so bad. I have been attending textile shows in Delhi for 20 years and the facilities were much better there. Here, we are jumping water puddles.” Several women executives and exhibitors at the stalls also complained about the lack of hygiene in the toilets which the exhibitors and buyers were forced to use.
Babita Sangh, an exhibitor from Ellora Enterprises said, “Apart from dirty toilets, we have not been provided with drinking water. It seems like the organisers were not capable of handling an event of this level. Delhi was a better venue any day.” Exhibitors claimed that India International Garment Fair, usually held in Delhi during January and July, has also been converged into the event this year. Many buyers and exhibitors found it tough to get to the venue due to paucity of radio taxis in Gandhinagar.
Babita added, “No taxi services were available on Friday and were stuck in the rain with our merchandise. We paid clo se to Rs 800 to get an auto rickshaw to the trade show.” International buyers said that time taken for travelling to the venue left them with less time to view the exhibition and crack deals. Eva Signes, an apparel buyer from Spain, said, “I took an early morning flight.
After flying for 36 hours, we were told there would be a bus to take us to the main venue, but we were dropped 3 km from the main venue. We lost so much time trying to get here and we have just three days to see the fair.” Surinder Singh Sharawat, assistant director at Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) and also in-charge of more than 200 stalls in halls 5 and 6 at Helipad Ground, said that he had received more than 170 complaints from members of the trade body and who have set up stalls at the trade fair.
“Members have complained about air conditioning, water leakage, lighting and housekeeping issues. On day one, we spent close to 2 hours just to get our ID cards and waited in a queue to get our badges. No one is taking responsibility for mismanagement and while our complaints were taken, nothing happened on ground. Being PM Modi’s home state, we expected better implementation of Swachha Bharat. Cleanliness is the biggest consideration when overseas buyers come to a trade fair and here presentation was our biggest grouse.”
Rajesh Agarwal, from Shree Balaji Exports said that the event did not match up to the “global trade show” standards due to lack of management and on-ground planning. A carpet exhibitor said he was leaving the stall in the care of his staff as he was not happy with the logistics. He said, “There are no clear instructions given to buyers as to where they are supposed to go. Buyers had to come from Delhi to Ahmedabad and then to Gandhinagar. It made things inconvenient which has reflected in poor footfall. We even got the stalls cleaned ourselves.”
Many exhibitors also complained of lack of proper marketing and advertising of the event by the textile ministry which resulted in reduced footfall of domestic and international buyers. An exhibitor from Jaipur who did not wish to be named complained about lighting and arrangement of stalls. He also said that the air conditioning did not work in the first half of Friday when the trade show began.
“This trade show is important as it showcases the might of Indian textile industry and we felt that Delhi would have been a better venue than Mahatma Mandir. In the past two days very few buyers have visited the stalls. We are close to 100 exhibitors from Jaipur and all are facing these issues,” he said. A CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) official, requesting anonymity, said that various apparel and handloom promotion councils and apex bodies of the textile sector were largely responsible for logistics and transportation for 2,500 international buyers, while the lighting, security and civic infrastructure aspects were handled by iNDEXTb — industries arm of the Gujarat government, who gave out contracts for various jobs. There was no response for the other organisers.