BHUBANESWAR: Every time there is a terror attack on any major establishment, the airports across the country are put on high alert. The attack on Army Brigade headquarters at Uri near the Line of Control is the latest case. However, security at Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) remains a concern due to several sensitive spots on the boundary around the runway and permeable points on entry and exit routes.
The BPIA has been classified as 'sensitive' to consistent threat perception. The situation demands foolproof security and implementation of constantly evolving techniques to safeguard the civil aviation operations. The security of the BPIA is looked after by CISF personnel headed by a Deputy Commandant. The Commissionerate of Police is entrusted with security of BPIA on the City side.
The IICs of Airfield, Capital, Shree Lingaraj, Khandagiri, and Dhauli police stations have been directed to intensify patrolling in the funnel zone coming under their respective jurisdictions. However, patrolling around the airport has not been 'intense' and continues to remain a normal routine affair.
While the cops have been asked to keep a close watch on the hamlets adjacent to the airport to prevent any untoward incident, three to four locations around the airport are sensitive and expose BPIA to the risk of infiltration. The new Jagamara-Baramunda road, which is close to the runway, has turned favourite spot for anti-socials at night. Besides, north-east corner is particularly vulnerable as it accommodates at least three slums.
The Palaspalli end of the airport leading to Kargil slum has several spots where the perimeter wall is low in height. Presently, a check point with one havildar and three constables under the charge of an officer has been placed on the route leading to BPIA to ensure checking of vehicles. In reality, none of the vehicles entering the airport are checked. An explosive-laden vehicle can easily reach outside the terminal building where passengers and public assemble without any hindrance.
On the other hand, BPIA Director R Mahalingam said the security arrangements are in place as per the needs. "The height of the boundary wall is okay but there are some households which are close to it. But watch towers are well manned and communication network is apt to tackle any eventuality," he said.
After Pathankot attack in January this year, the Aerodrome Committee, which regularly reviews the BPIA security, assessed that areas outside the perimeter wall and City-side of the airport are vulnerable. The committee chaired by Principal Secretary, Home Department Asit Tripathy, has laid down several strictures that include deployment of adequate number of armed police personnel at check points on the approach and exit roads of the airport.
The panel has directed that parking lots must be manned with plain-clothed personnel to keep watch on suspicious elements. Participation of specialised forces of the State Police in the multi agency drills for emergency preparedness has also been highlighted in the report of the Aerodrome Committee meeting.