Six years after the government approved plans for one of the largest hotel projects in the country ó the Aerocity at the Indira Gandhi International Airport ó JW Marriott on Friday became the first hotel to be given clearance for operating dining and lodging services.
However, security agencies have given the five-star hotel with 523 rooms only a partial clearance as the hotel is yet to put in all security measures, including installation of bulletproof windows, in 200-odd rooms which face the runway.
Sources said the hotel was given a partial clearance on Friday after a third and final inspection was carried out by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGIA) and his team. The DCP (IGIA) issued a no-objection certificate to the licensing unit of the Delhi Police, following which Marriot was issued the clearance.
Of the total 523 rooms, sources said 200 rooms facing the runway will be locked up and will not be open for operations till all security parameters are complete.
A committee comprising representatives of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) , the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Delhi Police had visited San Diego and Amsterdam airports earlier this year and issued a set of recommendations to the hotels, including access control, CCTV installation and bulletproofing of windows facing the runway.
The remaining 323 rooms, restaurants, office spaces and swimming pool will be operational and open to public.
Meanwhile, hotels Lemon Tree and Red Fox, which have been ready since December last year, have written to the Delhi Police, requesting them to carry out an inspection to review the security apparatus in place at their establishments. The first inspection of the two hotels is yet to be carried out.
For the past six years, the 43-acre project was in a limbo with security agencies refusing to lower the red flag on concerns over proximity of hotels to the airport runway. The project comprises 12 hotels with a combined room strength of 3,750. The Aerocity Hotel project, to come up in the site owned by airport operator Delhi International Airport Limited, was to be ready for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and was given clearance to begin construction in 2007.
Police maintain that they were never consulted at the time the project sanctions were approved.
In 2011, Delhi Police first raised the red flag about a heightened threat perception, calling it a potential launchpad for militant attacks. Aviation authorities said in their meetings with security agencies, the main threat cited is that the runway is in direct line of sight from at least four of the 12 hotels.