One of India’s latest indigenous guided missile stealth frigates, INS Satpura, berthed at Cochin Port in connection with the ongoing Naval and Maritime Expo (Namexpo), will be open to the public on Friday, the last day of the event.

The expo - which saw delegations from 15 countries descend on the city to interact and discuss business with Indian firms in defence and maritime sectors, Indian Navy, Coast Guard and research and development laboratories - is slated to be a biennial event.

While the maiden edition of the expo, begun on September 23, affirmed Kerala’s credentials to emerge as a maritime and naval hub, it had its share of problems too.

Those who arrived a day or two ahead of the expo to set up their pavilions on the Cochin Port premises, near the BTP Berth, ran into trouble as people claiming to be from trade unions demanded ‘nokku kooli’ .

An exhibitor told The Hindu on condition of anonymity that the company was to have readied its stall by 4 p.m. on the eve of the expo, “when some people came demanding Rs.500 for hanging a TV on the wall and another Rs.1,000 for shifting packing material. Those who arrived with replicas of aircraft, ships and the like had a tougher time negotiating with them. Finally, our TV went up the wall only around 12 at night…”

Another exhibitor said he was waylaid by a group of people while he was on way to his place of stay. “They stopped my car and started arguing over shipment charges for work they didn’t do,” he said, adding this culture would repel industries from coming to the State.

Some firms, familiar with the ‘nokku kooli’ practice, chose to transport their stuff in early hours to dodge troublemakers, he added.

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