US to spend $200 mn a day on Obama`s Mumbai visit

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - 21:03

Mumbai: The US would be spending a whopping
USD 200 million (Rs 900 crore approx) per day on President
Barack Obama`s visit to the city.

"The huge amount of around USD 200 million would be spent
on security, stay and other aspects of the Presidential
visit," a top official of the Maharashtra Government privy to
the arrangements for the high-profile visit said.
About 3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US
government officials and journalists would accompany the
President. Several officials from the White House and US
security agencies are already here for the past one week with
helicopters, a ship and high-end security instruments.

"Except for personnel providing immediate security to the
President, the US officials may not be allowed to carry
weapons. The state police is competent to take care of the
security measures and they would be piloting the Presidential
convoy," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Navy and Air Force has been asked by the state government
to intensify patrolling along the Mumbai coastline and its
airspace during Obama`s stay. The city`s airspace will be
closed half-an-hour before the President`s arrival for all
aircraft barring those carrying the US delegation.
The personnel from SRPF, Force One, besides the NSG
contingent stationed here would be roped in for the
President`s security, the official said.

The area from Hotel Taj, where Obama and his wife
Michelle would stay, to Shikra helipad in Colaba would be
cordoned off completely during the movement of the President.

The Gateway of India sea front would be sanitised from
November 5 to 8 and all the boats would be asked to anchor at
nearby Bhaucha Dhakka.

On the first day of his visit, Obama would pay homage to
the victims of 26/11 Mumbai attacks at Hotel Taj where he is
expected to make a statement on terrorism.

The official said the state government wanted the
President to visit the martyrs` memorial at Marine Drive
police gymkhana, but the proposal did not find favour with the
American Consulate.

The government wanted President`s itinerary to include a
visit to the memorial as most victims including police
officials and common people were killed in other parts of the
city and not the Taj.
The official conceded that providing security to the
visiting dignitary during his visit to Mahatma Gandhi Museum
at Mani Bhavan in central part of the city was a tough job
because of the narrow lanes.

Even some of the volunteers at Mani Bhavan have expressed
displeasure over heightened security arrangements.

"Mani Bhavan is the place associated with Gandhi who
promoted non-violence. But every day people from White House
and US security agencies are coming with guns and sniffer
dogs," one of them said.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - 21:03

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