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Security up,sales down

Paying a heavy price for the city police cordoning off all roads in the periphery of the commissioner’s building complex are the shopping malls...

Written by Ranjani Raghavan | Pune |
January 21, 2009 1:18:26 am

Paying a heavy price for the city police cordoning off all roads in the periphery of the commissioner’s building complex are the shopping malls,restaurants and even petrol pumps in a one-km radius. Even as the city police have,for the last couple of weeks,been working overtime to ensure its city headquarters is as safe as a fortress,the collateral damage has manifested itself in the form of reduced footfalls in business establishments in the vicinity.

For the Blue Nile,one of Camp’s more popular restaurants,business has been down by 20-25 per cent. One of the entrances at the Blue Nile Restaurant has been shut since Monday; the traffic police have also prohibited parking opposite the restaurant for good measure.

“Our business has dropped by about 20-25 per cent. During the day,it is not so bad as people just walk over to the restaurant; it is not so at night as families are unable to park their vehicles outside. Even our employees are allowed to park here only for two minutes,” said Sayeed Khan,manager at Blue Nile. “We could not get supplies like cold drinks and rice for the restaurant on Monday because of parking restrictions,though we are well stocked now,” Khan said.

The Nucleus Mall,which is bang opposite the police commissionerate,has seen a 30-35 per cent drop in footfall. Smaller establishments on the basement of Nucleus Mall building say they have been faring poorly. ‘Camp Chowpatty’,the food lane,has been around for around 35 years; three years ago when the mall came up,it was shifted to the basement.

“It is a commercial zone,normally it is buzzing with activity with at least 1,000 people turning up around lunchtime — they come for food,snacks or just tea. In the last two days,we have seen a 90 per cent drop,” said the owner of a Chinese food stall.

“Of late,customers have been keeping away. But for two days now,the drop in customers has been more drastic,” said Nagmode Chandrakant,at the Cane Yard Sugar Cane Juice Bar.

They expect this naka bandi will continue till after the Republic Day.

At the Om Super Market,along Sadhu Vaswani Road,business is down by 50-60 per cent. “People are not coming at all. So,we have been forced to increase the number of house deliveries in the last two days,” he said.

Two shops down the line,four employees have been sitting idle at the photocopy (Xerox) shop. “It has been a virtual holiday for the last couple of days. We do not know what will happen if this continues for a week. We are already facing a drop in customers by over 60 per cent,” said one of them.

This move by the police has drawn a mixed response from the public. Some agree that the police need to do all they can to guard against terror — after all it is their responsibility — but others are dumbstruck that it is the police commissionerate that is the epicentre of the heavy bandobast.

“For an hour now,I have been walking around this area to get my work done. They have blocked all vehicles from accessing this road. Security issues must be taken seriously but there is no denying the inconvenience to the people,especially those who have work in the vicinity of the police commissionerate,” said an irate office-goer.

Security has been strengthened along most arterial roads,but undoubtedly the most protected entity across the city is the police commissionerate. With almost all roads leading to the commissionerate cordoned off since Sunday night,it’s the business establishments in the area that have been badly hit.

Q&A
WHERE
: Security tightened up to 1 km around police commissioner’s office
WHY: Threat perception,apparently after an alert
WHEN: Started a few days ago,will continue. “Arrangements will be called off at an appropriate time,” says ACP (Crime) Rajender Singh
WHO: No one is safe,it would seem. The ACP says,“People should be alert and vigilant. We have briefed officials of malls,IT companies,educational institutes and other vital installations.”
WHAT: Measures include:
* A combing operation that has been going on in the city for the last three days
* A new security scheme is being planned to secure the court where around 10,000 people come every day
* Training for 100 commandos to counter terrorists in urban areas. ACP says training in advanced combat will be complete in the next 20 days

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