On July 30, a Sri Lankan national with a forged passport was taken off a New York-bound flight at Delhi airport. For 17 hours, the man evaded airport security and boarded a flight to Hyderabad, without any checks. He was finally arrested when he landed.The incident, along with a heightened Independence Day alert, set off a security audit by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), of the entire Terminal 3 (T3) of Indira Gandhi International Airport. An independent survey was also carried out by Delhi Police.
The Delhi Police survey, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, says that 40% (1,200) of the 3,000 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the terminal were not working. The report points this out as a “major security concern”.
It also says that there are no CCTVs in the third car-lane outside the terminal, a scene of frequent petty crimes.
After the Delhi Police survey, the CISF produced a report, accessed by HT, putting the number of non-functional cameras a little, but not much, lower and also pointed to 25 ‘grey areas’, which are not covered by CCTV cameras. These included the food court, immigration counters, arrival hall and the departure lounge.
Dial disputes the claims, saying the CCTV system is checked daily by its officials and the CISF. “Much less than 5% of the total cameras are at present under maintenance. There has never been a situation where 30% of CCTV cameras were non-functional. The figure has never exceeded 5%,” a Dial spokesperson said, adding that Dial was unaware of a CISF security audit. Dial didn’t, however, comment on the Delhi Police report.
"While investigating crime at the airport, we often found CCTV cameras not working. After our survey, (on August 1 and 2) we found that at least 40% don't function. We have told Delhi International Airport Limited (Dial) about it,” RA Sanjeev, DCP (Airport) said.
"We have got threats regarding IGI airport in view of Independence Day. Cameras should be in order,” he added.
"Although Dial has installed nearly 3,000 cameras, they don't cover all angles. The security inside the airport requires drastic overhauling,” said a senior CISF officer posted at the IGI.
One of the major concerns for security agencies is the food court. “This where the Lankan was given his Hyderabad ticket. But we couldn't see either him or the man who gave him the ticket, because the CCTV camera wasn't working. The one outside the food court is blocked by the canopy,” the CISF officer said.
To strengthen security ahead of the Independence Day on August 15, the CISF has now started frisking passengers at the main gate.
"Dial hasn't yet set up the baggage X-ray scanner to start concourse checking. We cannot compromise on security. Passenger will have to queue up but we have started frisking them at the gate itself,” the CISF officer said.
In addition, the CISF has also taken over aerobridge checking, which used to be with a private security agency.