Centre orders safety audit of airports across country

High-level meet shoots down proposal for separate security body.

Published: 17th August 2016 04:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th August 2016 04:07 AM   |  A+A-

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Security personnel intensify frisking at Biju Patnaik International Airport in the wake of arrest of 4 SIMI activists from Rourkela in Bhubaneswar. |Shamim Qureshy/ ENS

GUWAHATI: A month after the Express exposed the chinks in the armour of airports’ security, a high-level meeting was called at North Block to discuss the preparedness and loopholes that exist in the high security zone making it vulnerable to terror attacks.

On August 5, MoS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and MoS Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha discussed the security situation of at least 98 civil airports across the country.  The meeting was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other top officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The meeting, which decided to conduct a security audit of airports also rejected a proposal by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to raise a separate force for aviation security.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has been pitching for a separate force for airport security for a long time. However, the government has already made it clear that the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is fit to handle the security and gradually 98 civil airports in the country will be brought under the security cover of the CISF.

It is learnt that NSA Doval raised concerns over BCAS competence to raise such a force. Doval maintained in the meeting that each vulnerable facility needed to be identified and the gaps in security apparatus needed to be plugged. Intelligence agencies have already warned that no Indian airport is fully equipped to stand a Brussels-like terror attack.

Out of the total 98 functional airports in the country, 59 are under CISF cover, leaving 39 with other security agencies. The report of the airport security audit being conducted by a team of officials from Ministry of Home Affairs, Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Civil Aviation and BCAS will be submitted within 20 days.

The August 5 meeting also discussed plan for a Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) for random checking of incoming air travellers at the entrance of airports and checking of incoming vehicles of air travellers in city side approach. A SoP for checking of cargo and flying objects like drone is also being drawn.

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