Monday, Oct 06, 2003
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By V.V. Subrahmanyam
The dastardly attack on the Chief Minister's convoy in Tirupati on Wednesday last has its echo at a review meeting here to discuss security arrangements for the Afro-Asian Games. The scepticism on the financial front notwithstanding, a section of the top brass feels that the Police Department should fund the expenditure for security. According to rough estimates, the cost on security will be around Rs.10 crores. About 5,000 policemen will be posted - emphasis will be on security aspect for the opening and closing ceremonies.
Police officials have managed to convince the authorities that upgradation of the existing infrastructure at all the Games venues is of paramount importance, which can be converted into a permanent security set-up for future events. It is being surmised that the ball is now in the organising committee's court to allocate funds for security in the wake of the naxalite attack.
As a part of security measures, it is suggested to equip stadia with X-ray scanners, the latest surveillance cameras and related equipment, besides setting up control rooms at all the venues and accommodation centres. It is made clear that X-ray scanners will be installed at the main entrances of stadia and, if necessary, funnels will be in use connecting three or four gates and the 30 accommodation centres. "Such measures will enhance the preparedness level of the State in hosting mega events like the Commonwealth Games," an official says.
It is being pointed out to the authorities that the first question a foreign athlete or delegate asks whenever the Sub-Continent hosts a big international event is what guarantee the host gives to the sportsperson's life. "This is a sort of a paranoia which we are trying to eliminate in this Games," says a top official involved in the preparations.
Keeping in view the magnitude of the Games, the top police brass is forced to have a closer look at every conceivable idea to ensure an incident-free show. Different wings are being set up to take care of the security of VVIPs, athletes, Commonwealth delegates, political leaders and spectators.
Police officials are wary of the huge presence of 10,000 students during the opening and closing ceremonies. "It is going to be a tough job as the stakes are high for the hosts and the country in particular," a police official observes.
The tentative plans include asking spectators not to carry any boxes and baggage into the stadia.
Besides the indoor stadia, the most vulnerable spots are the parking areas and the hotels where the foreign delegates will stay. "We are keen to ensure that no stranger leaves a suitcase at the hotel," the official says. The traffic police wing is being given instructions to clear all routes to and from the stadia of any abandoned vehicle. Meanwhile, the State police are in constant touch with the Interpol, the Intelligence Bureau and the respective nation's head of police to keep them updated about the latest on the security aspect.
"This is being done to get the feedback on possible threats and how to counter them," another official says.
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