NEW DELHI: Government’s plan to raise specialized force for guarding the civil aviation sector has been shelved, even as the global civil aviation body, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had recommended India to put up an effective safety mechanism and specialized security force in the wake of terror attacks and suicidal bombings at major international airports globally.
Interestingly, ICAO is visiting India in March 2017 to ascertain India’s safety preparedness at airports.
ICAO’s role assumes significance given the fact that the US Federal Aviation Administration (USFAA) had downgraded India’s civil aviation sector for 15 months - between January 2014 and March 2015 - over safety oversight, based on ICAO’s feedback and recommendations. However, a high level meeting of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) authorities held recently to ascertain security preparedness at airports especially keeping in view ICAO’s team has junked the idea of having a specialized police force for civil aviation and airports.
Instead, it has decided that more men from Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), a paramilitary force, would be drawn and make them better equipped to ensure further security upgrade at airports.
Sources said that for raising a new force for airports and civil aviation, the government would have to spend a hefty amount besides overhead costs and additional infrastructure to house them.
An official said by keeping them (CISF men for civil aviation, airports) well within the CISF, and forming a specialized wing within would be more suitable. And the MoCA too is convinced.
At the same time the Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) also has objections to having a separate force for airports, civil aviation. It feels that this would lead to duplication with Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).
The BCAS comes under the administrative control of MoCA but are deputed by the MHA. BCAS is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India.
The proposal for aviation security force was mooted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in year 2011.
Soon after Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked in year 1999 by terrorists , the CISF was asked to manage airport security. Currently, it oversees security at 60 airports across the country.