Mumbai attack fallout: Delhi hotels fortified

December 26th, 2008 - 11:37 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) Wary guards, metal detectors and X-ray machines - a month after the Mumbai terror attacks, five star hotels in the capital have left no stone unturned to equip themselves to deal with any untoward incident. Hotel managements are following a strict security code to keep an eye on all activities inside their premises. Hotel staff is being trained to handle any exigency.

Many have hired the services of security agencies and started placing security personnel in plain clothes at strategic locations inside the premises, notably the entrances and lobbies.

The Taj Mahal and the Taj Palace hotels here, both of which belong to the Tata Group whose Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in Mumbai was among the places targeted by terrorists on Nov 26, have not only increased the deployment of security guards but also installed X-ray machines to check baggage.

The Taj Mahal hotel on New Delhi’s Mansingh Road has a three-level security system - guards at the entrance, exit and inside at places like the lobby.

The hotel has placed X-ray machines at the entrance to scan the luggage of guests before they check in. After the X-ray scan, a hotel staff member ties a white tag reading ‘Taj Mahal security check’ on the luggage.

A door frame metal detector adorned with decorative patterns has been put up and all guests after passing through it have to again hand over their luggage at the security counter, where the tag is removed.

A spokesperson for the Taj here declined to divulge further details regarding security, saying it was “still being worked on”.

At the Maurya Sheraton hotel, the routine for checking cars exemplifies that of other hotels.

The cars are thoroughly checked before entering the premises. While two guards ask for the boot and bonnet to be opened, a third guard requests the passenger seat door to be opened and glances inside.

Ashima Sukhani, spokesperson for the hotel, said security measures were being tightened in a phased manner.

Some hotels like The Claridges, apart from taking precautions, have also ensured that there are enough deterrents.

“Our entrance and exit gates have barricades. This will deter attackers from barging in. The number of lobby covers has been increased and we are also training all staff and associates to handle exigencies or any emergency in the hotel,” the hotel’s director of security Hemant Jaggi told IANS.

Hotels have also roped in the services of global security agencies and started placing security personnel in plain clothes at strategic locations inside the premises, notably the entrances and lobbies.

“We’ve got orders that we have to be more alert and vigilant. We have already increased the security staff. We also have a gunman now. This has added more strength to our team,” said Vasudev Mishra, a senior security personnel at the Park Hotel.

Not all hotels have a licence for armed guards. So the next best thing was to review the security mechanism and train the guards.

“Currently most hotels have reviewed their existing security arrangement including the installation of electronic security systems. Most of them are looking at an integrated security solution,” said Anil Dhawan, senior vice president (sales and marketing) for security agency Group 4 Securicor (G4S) India.

G4S India, a private security agency, provides security solutions to several hotels across the country.

Some of the capsules especially designed for training guards for corporate clients by the agency include bomb threat and crisis management, premises evacuation drills, fire prevention control, physical and electronic security, CCTV and access control.

While every aspect of security is being reworked, hotel staff is doing their best not to compromise on hospitality toward guests.

“My baggage took a while for checking, I waited five minutes before a hotel staff member rushed toward me with a bag. He profusely apologized and with a smile thanked me for my patience,” said Sahil Verma, a guest at the Taj Palace.

Overall guests seem pleased about the revamped security arrangements.

“I was really impressed with the checking. They asked me which guest I was meeting, then called to check. Once I was inside I felt I was being watched. It was a little cumbersome but totally worth it from the security point of view,” said Rubi Chauhan, who had come to meet her friend staying at the Taj Palace.

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