Vice-president Hamid Ansari’s visit to Patna on April 12 has sparked a row between the Centre and the Bihar authorities on the number of vehicles to be allowed on the Patna airport tarmac during a VVIP visit.
Highly-placed sources said the Bihar authorities wanted eight vehicles to be allowed on the tarmac during the vice-president’s visit. They even cited the ‘blue book’ (on security) to buttress their point.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) and vice-president Hamid Ansari along with their wives Gursharan Kaur (R) and Salma Ansari (2nd R) on Hamid's 75th birthday in New Delhi. PTI/Kamal Singh
However, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), which oversees airport security, allowed only two vehicles, including the escort vehicle for Ansari.
Even the Airports Authority of India (AAI) stood firm on the issue, ruffling feathers in the state government.
Peeved at the denial of entry to more vehicles, the state government called for a report from Patna district magistrate (DM) Sanjay Kumar Singh, who, in turn, sought a formal response in the matter from the AAI.
In its reply to the Patna DM, the AAI has enclosed a copy of a BCAS circular that provides guidelines for regulating access of vehicles to the tarmac of civil airports on protocol, medical and security grounds.
The Patna DM said: “We had sought access to the tarmac for some vehicles during the vice-president’s visit, citing the ‘blue book’. I have already submitted a report.”
However, a senior police officer said the ‘blue book’ was one that dealt exclusively with the “rules & instructions for the protection of the Prime Minister when on tour”. As such, the guidelines contained therein did not apply to the vice-president.
An aviation industry expert said the idea for disallowing vehicles beyond the ‘yellow line’ on the tarmac was to prevent tiny pebbles from entering the jet engines of aircraft.
Patna airport director Arvind Dubey declined comment.