G20: New Delhi's bustling streets and markets are deserted as summit comes to town

New Delhi gears up to welcome world leaders

A sign in Hindi reads 'stop' at an intersection on a closed road leading to the venue of the G20 summit in New Delhi on September  9, 2023. AP Photo
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The bustling Indian capital looked deserted on Saturday as it geared up to welcome more than four dozen high-profile figures for the G20 Leaders’ Summit.

New Delhi, home to 22 million people, is often bustling with people from around the world.

Traffic is typically bumper-to-bumper and the air full with deafening honks from car horns.

But Saturday was surprisingly calm.

The city came to a standstill as it rolled out the red carpet for the world leaders including US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau and host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The leaders will meet at Bharat Mandapam – a newly built sprawling international convention and exhibition centre that cost 27 billion rupees ($325 million) – where they are expected to discuss economic growth, green development and climate finance among other global issues.

Strict traffic regulations were into force and shopping complexes, markets and restaurants were closed.

The New Delhi district – home to the country's power seat including the parliament, residences of parliamentarians and leaders, luxurious hotels and branded stores and big offices felt the tight security.

The traffic was curtailed to ensure delegates moved from the airport to hotels and other venues unhindered.

As many as 130,000 security personnel have been stationed on major roads and streets.

Marksmen with rifles have been sent to rooftops, while the authorities will also use anti-drone technology to maintain security.

Counter-terrorism guards, known as Black Cats, will be on standby during the summit after intensive training in preparation for the event.

About 400 firefighters will also be on call and 20 trained dogs will be at the summit venue, as well as in neighbouring areas of New Delhi.

More than 50 jets will land at Delhi airport for the summit and the government has provided 20 bulletproof limousines to ferry leaders across the city.

Updated: September 09, 2023, 9:12 AM