This isn’t a flight of fancy. By this year-end, the Juhu aerodrome will have better protection and a new look. The ministry of civil aviation has sanctioned the deployment of a posse of Maharashtra Security Force (MSF) to guard the premises. It has now directed the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to survey the aerodrome and work out the number of such personnel needed.
The new automatic sliding gate away from the current entrance of Juhu aerodrome and towards the premises will decongest the abutting SV Road. Pic/Shadab Khan
Currently, the aerodrome has 33 unarmed guards. Besides dismal security, it has been grappling with addressing slum encroachments, easy access points and a shortage of CCTV cameras.
In the early hours of June 11, around five allegedly drunk locals, armed with wooden sticks, from the neighbouring Nehru Nagar broke down the periphery wall of the aerodrome, entered the premises and assaulted two security guards at the watchtower.
The decision to deploy MSF personnel at the aerodrome was taken at a meeting of senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials, the Juhu aerodrome director, and heads of the CISF and the BCAS in Delhi last month.
Senior AAI officials expect some 90 MSF personnel to be deputed to the aerodrome, but add that a final figure can be arrived at only after the BCAS survey.
As part of better vigilance, a new automatic sliding gate, some 50 m from the current main entrance and away from SV Road, has also been installed. The plan for a new gate had been in the works for some time.
Also read: Drunk locals attack Juhu airport guards
A senior AAI official explains that taking the entrance gate away from SV Road not only decongests it but also allow security personnel to check visitors more thoroughly without worrying about holding up traffic on the already jam-packed road. Since the current gate abuts SV Road, visitors’ vehicles pile up for long stretches on the road, blocking traffic. The periphery wall at the current entrance will also be razed, freeing up more space for entry/exit.
Besides, a doorframe metal detector will be installed at the gate to screen visitors on foot.
All of the security measures are expected to be in place by December.
With two operational runways, the Juhu aerodrome is used as a heliport for private charters, and to ferry ONGC personnel to offshore oil rigs at Bombay High.
Revamp on the cards
The oldest airport in the country will also get makeover post-monsoon. It will include planting of shrubs and flowering plants. This plan, too, has been given a year-end deadline.