Millennium Post

Threat city

Several high-end hotels, now being developed in and around the Aero City near the IGI Airport in the Capital, have been under the scanner for reasons of security. The Delhi police have strongly objected to the ongoing construction of high-rise hotels here, which have been coming up without obtaining security clearance. The hotels are being developed as part of the Aero City project near the Terminal-3 of the IGI Airport. The land for this hospitality hub has been leased out to various private companies by the Airport Operator – DIAL. A team of senior Delhi police officials inspected the construction site recently and noted that the under-construction building might pose a serious threat to the aviation security. According to the police, the upcoming hotels are in close vicinity of the runway 28 of the Terminal-3.

The Delhi police have raised objection to the construction activities saying they have not obtained the necessary sanction from the agencies that manage the Airport security. The objections have been raised by the IGI Airport Police to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the DIAL.

Since 2010, a large number of hotels have mushroomed in and around the Aero City. The IBIS, and the JW Marriot, Lemon Tree Premier Red Fox’s hotels were opened recently. Besides many hotels are under construction. As part of the Aero City project, at least 14 hotels and other buildings are being constructed.

According to police sources, the Delhi police officials have inspected the hotels near the hospitality hub in the first week of December 2011. The site is yet to get security clearance from the Delhi police, which provide the outer layer of security cover to the airport sites.

The police have termed these projects a ‘potential threat’, saying, the distance between the runway and these buildings is not more than 150 metres and that the runway would fall well within the range of an automated weapon when aimed from these buildings.

‘Besides domestic flights, many international flights can be targeted from these hotels,’ said a senior airport official on the condition of anonymity.

The recent terror attacks at airports in neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, have also raised the security concern here in the national capital. Permitting these hotels to carry on with their construction work without necessary sanctions may create a vulnerable situation, added the official.

According to police sources, the Delhi police officials had inspected the hotels near the hospitality hub in the first week of December 2012. The site is yet to get security clearance from the Delhi police, which provide the outer layer of security cover to the airport sites. The Delhi police are going to submit a report in this regard soon. They are likely to address the security threats posed by these site said a source on condition of anonymity.

‘Three hotels have got the security clearance from the concerned agency and have been opened recently while other are yet to get the clearance from the concern agencies,’ said DCP (IGI Airport) Mohammed Irshad Haider.

The Aerocity, a project of the airport operator, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), was started with plans for 5,400 rooms. Approved in 2007, it was to be ready in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The two hotels were given partial clearance by Delhi Police. Security clearances to the two hotels come with restrictions on the opening of the runway-facing rooms. Only 145 rooms out of 280 in case of Lemon Tree Premier and 191 rooms out of Red Fox’s 207 have been made operational.

JW Marriott, Aerocity’s first hotel was opened to public, was given partial clearance on last year. Permission to about 200 rooms in a hotel of 523 room capacity was withheld initially. In the case of runway facing rooms in Red Fox and Lemon Tree Premier, the launch will happen only when clearance on the standard of bullet-proof glass panes comes from Defence Research and Development Organisation.

‘We are yet to take a decision on this issue. We can not take any risk and the proximity of these hotels to the airport has always been a cause of concern for security agencies. A joint committee on civil aviation security, in which officials of Delhi police, Intelligence Bureau, SPG, BISF, NSG are members, along with representatives of the civil aviation and home ministries, had been meeting over the past three years on this,’ said a police official on the condition of anonymity.

Delhi police earlier had recommended turning all windows facing the airport into concrete walls and raising the boundary walls several times to match the height of the hotels. Earlier, ministry of civil aviation sent a letter to all hotels in the hospitality district to once again submit their security plan based on security requirements to BCAS for approval and start operations only after the bureau approves.
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