CISF to guard runway-facing 5-star Mumbai airport hotel

In a first, over 60 armed CISF commandos have been deployed to provide anti-terror security cover to a five-star luxury hotel in Mumbai, part of the CSIA airport terminal, which gives a sweeping view of the airport runway. The hotel, Taj Santacruz, is located within the domestic terminal of the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) and a number of rooms of the facility face the runway. PTI had first reported in March last year that a squad of about 150 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) commandos was deployed to secure the hotel on a temporary basis. It has now been made permanent. A full contingent of over 60 commando-trained CISF personnel took charge of hotel security on June 2. The squad will be part of the deployment that guards the CSIA, a senior official said. The cost of the CISF deployment will be borne by the GVK group that operates the CSIA, he said. The official said the vehicle-borne commandos, armed with assault weapons, will secure the hotel area against any terror bid that may occur or emanate from the hotel. The airports security force of the country, guarding 59 civil facilities at present, will also provide a 24X7 anti-sabotage cover to the facility with the deployment of bomb disposal and sniffer dogs units. The official website of the hotel boasts of having airport runway, city and pool facing rooms. The hotel is just a two-minute walk from the domestic terminal and a 10-minute walk from the international terminal of the CSIA. The luxury address, with 279 rooms and suites, is probably the first airport hotel in the country to give the occupants a clear view of the runway. This is the first time that the CISF has been deployed to secure a five-star hotel in the private sector after it was mandated to take up such duties in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. The move assumes significance as CISF cover is sparingly granted to the private sector. There have been only 9 such deployments on the campuses of IT major Infosys, the Reliance Corporate Park in Navi Mumbai and the Patanjali Food and Herbal Park of Baba Ramdev in Uttarakhands Haridwar. It was very essential to secure the hotel against terror or any other such bids as the facility is right inside the CSIA terminal area and oversees the tarmac. The CISF men will not render control and access of guests at the hotel but will supervise overall security rendered by the private security and the staff of the hotel, the official said. The CISF and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) had jointly carried out a security assessment of the hotel, following which armed personnel of the force have now been deployed.