Thousands swamp Auto Expo, exhibitors fret at chaos

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) Chaos seemed to reign at the Auto Expo Friday as thousands of visitors thronged auto exhibitors’ stalls at the Pragati Maidan, completely overrunning the venue, and causing many exhibitors including Anand Mahindra to fret over the shoddy management.

The first two days which are kept as the official business and media interaction days saw press personnel and exhibitors being physically harassed by thousands of freeloaders.

Commenting on the state of affairs, Anand Mahindra, vice chairman and managing director Mahindra Group, tweeted on micro-blogging website Twitter: ‘Fare on display at Auto Expo is the richest I’ve seen. Infrastructure is still the poorest and beams a contradictory picture to the world. Shudder to think of the stampede tomorrow when it opens to the public. This is the first time I’ve no desire to return for a second visit.’

‘The crowd management is dismal. Wall to wall people on a media day? Either management is lax or media is the most popular profession in India.’

‘There is no discipline here. We do not know from where did all these people in their thousands come in from. Imagine what will happen when the expo is opened for the public,’ one of the many exhibitors at the mega event told IANS.

‘More chaos, sleepless nights are in store for the exhibitors, managers and security personnel due to the shoddy management coupled with the unruly crowd,’ he added.

‘The purpose of the first two days is completely defeated. We wanted the interactions to go on smoothly between media and the company officials.’

The public days for the event opens from Jan 7, when around 100,000 visitors are expected at Pragati Maidan.

Mahindra also suggested in his tweet that the expo should try and find a new home to give the mega event a new face.

‘Auto Expo needs to find a new, more capacious and tidier home. Or the world will be happy to give the go-by to Indianauto’s shop window.’

Agreeing with Mahindra’s views, Vicky Chandhok, president, Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) tweeted: ‘Got there last evening from Madras (Chennai) and would have normally gone back today but headed back! Just no crowd control!’

Trudging from hall to hall in search for free media kits and a chance to see Bollywood stars who are invited either to launch or unveil vehicles, the crowds have on occasion completely overrun the venue making the life of event managers, media persons and exhibitors tough.

‘It seems that even the media centre has been completely occupied by the general public,’ an official from the organising committee said on condition of anonymity.

‘We have not given free passes. The tickets to the event are only from Jan 7-to-Jan 11.’
The official seemed to be unaware that thousands have entered the premises with passes that clearly state– ‘Special Invitees’ for Jan 5 and Jan 6.

Moreover, senior executives of multi-national companies (MNCs) were seen embarrassed when school kids ask them for freebies, calling them — ‘uncles and aunties.’

One of the journalist covering the event commented: ‘What’s the use of terming specific days as media days, when every chunnu, munnu, uncle and aunties of Delhi have decide to make the expo as their private picnic spot.’

Fingers are also being pointed towards free passes being given out by auto companies and there are even allegations that the Pragati Maidan’s patrons India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) for allowing.

The 11th edition of the Auto Expo will conclude Jan 11. The event at the sprawling Pragati Maidan exposition grounds promises a slew of launches and first-time exhibits of vehicles in virtually every segment and hopes to draw some 500,000 footfalls, the organisers said.

Held every two years, the event is being co-hosted by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA).