Parliamentary Panel tells Centre to give CISF Cover to all operational airports

Only 64 of the over 100 operational airports in the country enjoy the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) cover, a Parliamentary Panel that undertook a detailed examination of safety at Indian airports has found, reports Amandeep Shukla in TOI.

In its report presented to the parliament on Thursday, the panel headed by MP T G Venkatesh, has suggested that the remaining airports also be brought under the CISF security cover.
“The Committee notes that out of 118 operational airports, only 64 airports are under CISF cover, while 54 airports have no such cover. Further, out of the 28 hyper-sensitive airports, 21 have CISF cover; while for the 62 sensitive airports, only 39 have been given CISF cover,” the panel said in its report.

The committee recommended that the Centre strive to bring all the operational airports under the ambit of CISF security cover.

The panel also looked into other aspects related to security and observed that while the vacancy position of CISF at airports, as compared to the total sanctioned strength was satisfactory, yet there was a vacancy of 1166 security personnel.

The panel also recommended that periodic surveys should be carried out to assess the changing threat perception at all airports in the country and accordingly, trained security personnel should be provided at airports in a time-bound manner.

Continuous monitoring should also be done as regards the implementation of various security rules and regulations and surprise checks should be carried out to test professional efficiency and alertness of the security staff and the operational preparedness of various agencies.

The panel also noted that bomb disposal and detection squads (BDDS) were operationalised at 20 airports but non-operationalised at 44 remaining airports. Assistance of local police or National Security Guard (NSG) is being sought for attending to such threats.

At some places where CISF does not have BDDS support, support of local police is being sought. The Committee is of the opinion that local police may not have the technical competence or the desired high-tech equipment to dispose of bomb threats.
“The Committee, therefore, recommends that BDDS should be engaged at the earliest at all the remaining 44 airports as well to counter bomb threats in consultation and coordination with the MHA. The Committee also recommends that the BDDS squad should have the best international pedigree dogs which can be engaged for security at airports,” the panel said in its report.

The panel also recommended that the Centre ensures that the security staff at airports are sensitised adequately in soft skills, so that they perform their security duties efficiently without diluting the security responsibilities.

“The Committee notes that SOP for persons with special needs or ‘Divyaangjan’ has been drafted by BCAS and same will be finalised after receipt of comments of general public/ stakeholders. The Committee is of the opinion that special care should be taken to deal with passengers with special needs or ‘Divyaangjan’ and therefore, recommends that the SOP may be expeditiously finalized,” the panel said in its report.

The panel also suggested that the proposal for installation of Full Body Scanners at airports, which would enhance the technology of frisking of passengers and lead to faster clearance of queues at frisking points, be taken up. Besides, the number of frisking counters may also be increased at airports and adequate trained personnel should be posted to man these counters effectively, the committee said.

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