NEW DELHI: In a first, 150 CISF commandos will be on guard to secure a five-star luxury hotel in Mumbai that gives a sweeping view of the airport runway.
Official sources said today that the Union Home Ministry recently cleared the deployment of the armed contingent to secure the air side flanks of the hotel--Taj Santacruz-- located right next to the domestic terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA).
CISF Director General Surender Singh confirmed to PTI that the sanction for the deployment has been given by the government.
The sources said as the hotel has a USP of having "airport facing runway" rooms and floors, it was esssential to cover that flank from the point of view of any terrorist or sabotage like activity.
"The deployment of the force is on the internal security pattern and this could be a precursor for the force to take up the assignment full time considering the vulnerability of the air operations which are visible from the floors of the hotel," the sources said.
The hotel is only 2 minutes walking distance from the domestic terminal and ten minutes from the international terminal of the CSIA.
The hotel, with 279 rooms and suites, boasts of being the first airport hotel in the country to give the occupants a clear view of the runway.
This is the first time that the Central Industrial Security Force has been deployed to secure a five-star hotel in the private sector after it was mandated to take on such duties in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
The move assumes significance as CISF cover is very sparingly granted to the private sector and till now there have been only such eight such deployments, the latest being to secure Yoga exponent Baba Ramdev's food park in Uttrakhand's Haridwar.
The force has maintained that its priorities for deployment in the private sector are for those in the power and energy security and Information Technology sectors.
The sources said the runway facing floors have been lying unused for the want of proper and foolproof security and the CISF had earlier cited shortage of manpower and heavy duty at Mumbai airport to take on the new task of securing the hotel.
They said an assessment was later carried out by central security agencies, CISF and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) after which the armed personnel of the force are now being deployed.
Armed CISF personnel, officials said, will be deployed at vantage locations and terrace floors of the hotel and will also keep an eye on any suspicious activity on its runway side.
Similar proposals have been made for Delhi's Aerocity area that is close to Delhi airport.