Goa CM seeks to cash in on festival

Published on Nov 29, 2004 09:45 PM IST

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parikkar is anxious to emerge a hero from the international Film Festival of India (IFFI) that begins here Monday.

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PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, Panaji

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parikkar is anxious to emerge a hero from the international Film Festival of India (IFFI) that begins here Monday, but he may find himself facing irate home crowds instead, already fed up with traffic jams and other problems.

Weeks of attempts to renovate the state capital in time for the 12-day event and the resulting traffic snarls have left citizens with mixed feelings of irritation and pride at hosting the prestigious event at its new permanent venue for the first time.

About 5,000 people are expected to land here for the event and security is tight too, complicating life further.

"There's simply too much hype. Goa is staging the film festival for the first time, so there are bound to be problems," said a senior government official at the refurbished government arts and culture centre Kala Academy, one of the main venues for the festival.

Confident that nothing will go wrong, Parrikar has used the event for a complete makeover of the state capital, which has a small resident population of around 60,000 but a daily floating population that is twice the number.

But it all costs money. And the lavish expenditure, estimated to be in the region of Rs. 1.5 billion to Rs. 2 billion, has attracted a lot of criticism, particularly as the state has been facing a heavy debt burden in recent years.

Parrikar, the local legislator from Panaji, has dismissed the criticism as being political, aimed at weakening his position. He said detractors were talking with "half baked" knowledge or because their "interests" were affected.

Goa was chosen as the permanent venue of the IFFI when the BJP was in power in New Delhi. After some uncertainty, following the change of government, the state is going ahead with the event, though with lesser central funding than expected earlier.

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