Mumbai: The government has permitted bars and restaurants to remain open all through the night on December 31 for new year celebrations in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai but boat parties along the coast have been banned for the third time in a row due to the terror threat.
“The state excise department has allowed bars, hotels and restaurants to remain open till 5 am on January 1, 2011. Usually, these establishments are shut by 1:30 hours but due to the New Year celebrations, the norms have been relaxed,” Joint Police Commissioner (Law and Order) Rajnish Seth said.
“Boat parties along the coastline have been banned as a precautionary measure in the wake of intelligence inputs. Earlier also, for two years, the boat parties were not allowed due to security reasons,” Seth added.
Loudspeakers will be allowed to play till midnight in an open ground, instead of the usual 10 pm deadline.
The hotels which conduct performances in their premises can also play loudspeakers till midnight, he added.
With inputs that four alleged members of Pakistan-based terror outfit LeT have sneaked into the city to carry out “violent” attacks during New Year celebrations, a tight security blanket has been thrown across the metropolis.
Vigil has been heightened to avert any terror threat emanating from land, air and water during the celebrations, police said today.
Roads near the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the sites of the 26/11 terror attacks near Gateway of India, have been closed for 15 days from December 23 and the area has been put under surveillance, police said, adding, parking on the roads around the Taj has also been prohibited for the same period.
Additional Police Commissioner Naval Bajaj said, “The inputs received in the past few days have prompted us to take unprecedented security measures to preempt any terror strikes during New Year celebrations,”.
South Mumbai’s Colaba area, particularly the places, including the Gateway of India, where large crowds are expected during the festivities, have been kept under surveillance through high resolution CCTVs, Bajaj said.
According to police, most of the possible terror targets are in south Mumbai. Security has been strengthened at vital installations, railway stations, crowded areas, religious places and consulates.
Barricades would be put up at the Gateway of India to separate families from single men to avoid eve-teasing, Bajaj said, adding that five watchtowers would also be installed.
Special Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad would be deployed near the spot and policemen stationed at the jetties to frisk persons sailing in boats and check baggage.
The sea-front up to five nautical miles would be guarded round the clock by police armed with advanced boats and sophisticated equipment, he said.
Police are also co-ordinating with Navy and Coast Guard officials who would conduct air surveillance, he said.