Acknowledging the need to upgrade airport security systems in view of a heightened threat of terror attacks, the home ministry and civil aviation ministry on Thursday brainstormed on deploying CISF, which how handles security of 59 airports, at all of the country’s 98 airports, in a phased manner.
At the airport security review meeting chaired by Union home minister Rajnath Singh and attended by civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju here, the need to prepare CISF for a larger role in airport security by augmenting its manpower and technological advancements, was stressed. Others present during the deliberations included MoS (home) Kiren Rijiju and Hansraj Ahir, MoS (civil aviation) Jayant Sinha, home and civil aviation secretaries, CISF DG O P Singh and chiefs of director general of civil aviation (DGCA) and bureau of civil aviation security (BCAS).
Home ministry sources indicated that there was agreement that CISF should be brought in to guard all remaining airports in the country, including the Srinagar airport that is currently secured by CRPF, to ensure a standardised airport security drill. This comes in the wake of CISF pointing to fears of a “direct, bold attack at airports from the city area” as well as the past terror strikes at Brussels and Istanbul airports.
“The need to raise more CISF battalions as well as technological advancements such as perimeter intrusion detection system and cyber security systems at airports was underlined. Implementation of additional security measures at all airports identified by a recent audit as hyper-sensitive as well as smaller airports was sought. These would include deployment of more quick reaction teams, including at entrances from the city side,” said a senior home ministry officer.
The home ministry, keen to review the current system where security of an airport is determined by the ability of airport operator to pay, wants the feasibility of central funding of all airport security operations, examined. If cleared, this may dispense with passenger security fee (PSF) now built into airfare. Though the meeting discussed the issue, no decision was taken pending examination by the finance ministry.
An earlier airport security review by the home and civil aviation ministries in August had given a thumbs-down to the latter’s proposal to raise an Aviation Security Force under the BCAS. National security adviser A K Doval, who was present at the August 5 review, had reportedly pointed out that MHA and not BCAS had the expertise to adopt latest technology and ensure enhancement of airport security systems. The meeting had also ordered a security audit of all airports in the country.
At Thursday’s meeting, the civil aviation ministry sought a policy to handle drones, expedited security clearances from the home ministry and security measures that also ensure passenger convenience.
The August 5 review had identified three points of concern: the city side approach to airports, cargo area and drones launched in the vicinity. The steps suggested to tackle these threats included deployment of CISF on the city side and perimeter, random checking of incoming vehicles, patrolling of cargo area and its joint inspection by CISF and BCAS, random baggage checks within airport area, a passenger behaviour monitoring mechanism and regulation of drones by enforcing standard operating procedures followed in Delhi.
Source: Times of India