Multi-layer, multi-agency security for WC final

Mumbai: Against the backdrop of terror threat, a thick security blanket has been thrown around the metropolis, turning it into a fortress, ahead of Saturday`s world cup final between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede stadium here.

President Pratibha Patil and her Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa will watch the match at the 32,000-capacity Wankhede Stadium, making the venue more security-sensitive.

Apart from Mumbai police, teams of National Security Guards, Maharashtra`s elite Force One, Rapid Action Force, State Reserve Police Force and Quick Response Team are maintaining strict vigil at the stadium, the venue of the grand finale of cricket`s biggest extravaganza.

Other parts of the city are witnessing strict checkings and intensified nakabandis.

Airspace over and around stadium has been declared `No Flying Zone`.

Over 180 CCTVs have been installed by the stadium authorities inside and outside the stadium, and a special police control room has been set up to keep a watch on the spectators, said Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations) Rajkumar Vhatkar.

CISF will frisk spectators entering stadium and SRPF will guard the periphery. Neighbouring Thane and Navi Mumbai police personnel will back up city Police.

Helicopters for surveillance, Marine Commandos and Indian Naval Base in South Mumbai will be on standby. All entry points from the sea will be sealed on the day.

A multi-layer security will be in place around two-km radius area of the stadium during the match. Outside food items will not be allowed in the stadium.

Police are also worried that a "chemical bomb" could be used by the terrorists, so the water bottles from outside would not be allowed at the match, a police official said on the condition of anonymity.

When asked, DCP Vhatkar said, "Water bottles from outside will not be allowed due to security reasons and drinking water arrangement has been made inside."

Also, with inputs that terror outfits may strike during World Cup matches using explosive-laden vehicles, the city police have decided not to allow parking within a radius of one kilometre of the Wankhede Stadium.

Spectators will have to park their vehicles either near Inox mall in Nariman Point area or near Azad Maidan.

The police have appealed to spectators to opt for public transport instead of private vehicles.

Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), the civic transport body, is likely to run special buses to ferry spectators from parking areas to the ground.

Though the previous two matches at the stadium — New Zealand vs Canada (March 13) and New Zealand vs Sri Lanka (March 18) — went off without a hitch, police are much more worried about the final, following inputs about possible terror strikes, said an official.