Monday, February 01, 2016

Top half of Taj at Mumbai airport to remain shut over security concerns

There’s disappointment in store for visitors to the new Santacruz Taj Hotel if they’re looking forward to the unique view of flights taking off and landing from Mumbai airport. With the runway just a stone’s throw away, what was to be the five-star’s USP, is a security concern for the airport and the reason why the top three floors of the hotel are yet to be opened to the public.
Work on Taj GVK’s Rs 110-crore luxury hotel began in 2011, and ran into several delays due to the requirement of permission from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). It was finally launched on January 16, but only the first three floors of the 6-storey hotel have been opened, due to security concerns. Over 50 spots have been identified inside and in the periphery of the airport-side hotel that need to be secured by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
However, at a time when the airport is on high alert and is facing a shortage of security personnel, the CISF finds itself unable to deploy any manpower at the hotel. At present, Mumbai airport is manned by 4,000 CISF personnel but needs an additional 700. The agency can only deploy personnel at the hotel if it receives additional manpower from Delhi.
A senior CISF official explained, “After a survey, we identified more than 50 locations that need security arrangement at the hotel. However, it is only after the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs that CISF personnel can be deployed there, and until then, the hotel cannot commence services on the remaining floors, especially those facing the runway.”
01/02/16 Neha LM Tripathi/Mid Day
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