South Mumbai faces shutdown for Obama visit | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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South Mumbai faces shutdown for Obama visit

mumbai Updated: Oct 25, 2010 01:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Shopping in Colaba, riding a horse carriage along the Gateway of India promenade or watching fireworks at Marine Drive during the Diwali weekend may not be that easy.

Security measures for US President Barack Obama’s Mumbai visit on November 6 and 7 — Laxmi Puja is on November 5 — could slow down life in parts of south Mumbai.

Residents are preparing for inconveniences due to traffic diversions and heavy security.

Grant Road resident Rishikesh Javkar is wondering how to take his family shopping for Diwali that weekend. “Moving around the wholesale market in Colaba will be tough.”

Ashok Patel, chairman of the Fort Merchants’ Association, said: “Hawkers will be informally told to down shutters.” Shops on Colaba Causeway may be allowed to remain open.

The Gateway will be off limits for tourists that weekend. The police have told tour guides and photographers to stay away. “If they don’t allow visitors here what is the point of us being here?” SP Singh, a tourist photographer at Gateway, said.

Neera Punj, south Mumbai resident and convenor of Citispace, said these measures were indicative of the city’s preparedness. “We are shutting the city down because it is not well equipped to handle both things [security and commercial activity] together.”

The police on Sunday put barricades around The Taj Mahal Palace where Obama will be staying. “We plan to make the entire area a no-man’s land for at least one day,” a senior security officer said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Home department sources said the state government and police will know Obama’s itinerary only on Friday. They are, meanwhile, preparing for Indian President, Pratibha Patil’s visit to the city on Monday.

“The police have said they will soon meet the mohalla committee to inform us about arrangements,” said Anil Bhatia, secretary, Marine Drive Council.

Socialite and south Mumbai resident, Queenie Singh, said people should stay home that weekend and look at the “bigger picture”. “We should be proud that he [Obama] is coming to our city.”