Mumbai coastline to be impregnable during Obama visit

Top Maharashtra and Mumbai security officials, in consultation with US security officials, have prepared a detailed plan to ensure that the sea coast along the Mumbai Harbour, the Gateway of India, Radio club and beyond remains absolutely secure.

President Obama is scheduled to stay at the Hotel Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in south Mumbai, overlooking the coast. Steps are being taken to ensure that no unauthorized fishing boats or trawlers, private yachts or other vessels stray close to the shore in the Arabian Sea stretch opposite the Gateway Of India.

As per indications, all motorised boat trips to and from the Gateway of India to the world heritage Elephanta Isle and the harbour joyrides, popular among domestic and foreign tourists, are likely to be banned for three days, starting next Friday.

There are over a hundred such motorized boats which daily cater to tourists and shutter-crazy visitors from all over the world. Besides, the officials are also carrying out a headcount of all the big ships and vessels that shall be present in and outside the Mumbai Harbour. Their routine movement inside the Mumbai Port and Jawaharlal Nehru Port will be closely monitored, according to the officials.

According to an official announcement in Washington Wednesday, President Obama is scheduled to spend two days in the country's financial capital, Nov 6 and 7, before leaving for New Delhi Nov 8 during his four-day visit to the country.

Though officials remain tight-lipped, President Obama may attend a business meeting at the Hotel Trident-Oberoi or the National Centre for Performing Arts, both at Nariman Point, around 1,500 metres away from the Hotel Taj.

Both Hotel Taj and Hotel Trident were targets of the November 2008 terrorist attack. Incidentally, when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mumbai in July last year, she too had opted to stay at Hotel Taj during her two-day visit.

Starting from Washington next Friday (Nov 5) on a four-nation trip, President Obama arrives in Mumbai Saturday, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes said, outlining his schedule.

He will make a statement at the Hotel Taj to mark the Mumbai terrorist attacks. On the second day in Mumbai, President Obama will visit a Mumbai school and participate in Diwali celebrations with children.

Then he will go to a Mumbai hall and interact with university students, where he will focus on partnerships, agriculture and food security. The visiting President would highlight India's successes as the world's largest democracy, Rhodes said.

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