Terror threat leads to unprecedented World Cup security

Terror threat leads to unprecedented World Cup security

New Delhi: One thousand police personnel, 200 disaster management officials and 500 private security men will monitor New Delhi’s historic Feroz Shah Kotla grounds on Wednesday, when India clash with minnows the Netherlands in the cricket World Cup.

Security for the final game in Mumbai on 2 April will be tighter, adding sea and air surveillance.

“The World Cup security arrangements are on a par with what they were during the Commonwealth Games," said Suresh Chopra, head of the security committee at the Delhi and District Cricket Association, referring to the sporting event the capital hosted in October.

From shadowing players to hotels and practice grounds to placing sharp-shooters in high-rise buildings near the stadiums, security for the 45-day World Cup is unprecedented.

Officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) declined to give information on the expenditure on security for the tournament.

N. Srinivasan, secretary of BCCI, said the Indian board, ICC and cricket associations that are hosting the matches have agreed to pay local police for the security.

“Every venue will pay a certain amount to the police," Srinivasan said. “Police will not come free and there is a cost to security."

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) pays Rs7-8 lakh to the Chennai police for routine tournaments at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. The World Cup matches will need more than 1,000 security personnel and will cost Rs10-12 lakh a match, said association manager R. Santhanam.

Chennai will host four World Cup matches. TNCA would have to pay Rs40-50 lakh to the police alone, Santhanam said.

This will be in addition to other expenses such as private security, safety equipment, ambulances and doctors stationed at the stadium.

Delhi, which will also host four matches, has all 14 entries to the 41,000-capacity stadium equipped with X-ray scanners for the tournament.

Mumbai and New Delhi had been targets of terrorist attacks in the past.

In Bangalore, where a bomb was found outside the Chinnaswamy stadium during an Indian Premier League match last year, organizers have erected 18 watch towers around the venue, installed 58 surveillance cameras, and stationed sniffer dogs.

Bomb disposal squads and about 2,700 police and security personnel will be positioned in and outside the stadium.

One main venue operation centre and four sub-stations are already monitoring the stadium through closed circuit television cameras, said Ratnakar Salunke, venue security officer for the Chinnaswamy stadium, which will host five matches.

Officials from ICC, BCCI and local authorities have been working for more than three months on security for the World Cup, which began on 19 February.

“There are no guarantees when it comes to issues of security and it will always remain our primary concern, but we believe we are taking all reasonable measures possible to make sure everyone can enjoy the cricket in a safe and secure environment," said James Fitzgerald, a spokesman for ICC.

BCCI, the co-host of the World Cup, has sought a Rs400 crore insurance cover for the 29 matches that will be played in India. The tournament is also being hosted by neighbours Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.