For a bunch of luxury hotels currently under construction as part of the Aerocity project right next to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, the wait for customers may not end anytime soon.
A panel of experts that went to the US and EU to assess and understand the security infratstructure at high-rise buildings near airports has returned. But even their recommendations are not going to help the Aerocity project — the 45-acre hospitality district comprising five-star hotels — near the runway.
The panel comprising personnel from the Delhi Police, Airports Authority of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Central Industrial Security Force and Bureau for Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) went to Amsterdam and San Diego, USA, to see how these airports handle security.
A source in the five-member team claimed security standards at IGI need to be raised before allowing these hotels to start commercial operations.
“It is unfair to compare Delhi airport with these cities as they are far ahead in terms of technology. They are more dependent on the intelligence network, which is lacking here. You cannot allow hotels to operate unless the same security standards are maintained here,” said an officer, who was part of the team.
The team will have another meeting in Delhi before submitting the report to another committee.
“We are not here to say yes or no to the project. But we will certainly submit our recommendations based on our study of the two foreign airports. In San Diego, the airport is in the middle of the city but the periphery is only 7-8 km. Similarly, the Amsterdam airport is spread across 57 km and is situated on the outskirts,” the official added. The ministry of civil aviation had arranged a meeting of the members with security experts in these cities.
In San Diego, the nearest high-rise building is at least a km away while in Delhi the hotel buildings are facing the main runway and are at a stone’s throw. “If you want to prevent any attack, intelligence network is the most important component and that is where these cities are ahead of us,” the official said.
The BCAS has already asked the hotels to submit a security plan before commencing operations. In July 2011, the Delhi Police had raised objection to the construction of hotels close to the runway.
Delhi Police had conducted a security audit and found that once constructed, the hotels would be a security hazard due to its proximity to the runway.