A major overhaul of the security infrastructure at airports across India is on the cards over an increased threat of terrorist attack.
A joint team of officials from the ministry of home affairs, the Intelligence Bureau and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is conducting a security audit of airports across the country. Each airport will then be categorised according to its perceived vulnerability.
“We are going to upgrade security infrastructure at all civilian airports,” said ministers of state (home) Kiren Rijiju, who jointly chaired a meeting with minister of state (civil aviation security) Jayant Sinha in this regard on August 5.
The meeting was attended by national security advisor Ajit Doval, Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma, secretary (civil aviation) Rajiv Nayan Choubey, BCAS head Kumar Rajesh Chandra and CISF chief Surender Singh.
“(It was) concluded that securing airports was basically the responsibility of the government and it cannot be left in the hands of the airport operator. A view emerged that the government should look at the possibility of funding airport security,” said a senior government official who participated in the meeting. He spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The meeting was focused on the most vulnerable areas, such as traffic entering the airport area, cargo areas frequented by private contractors, and drones. High-rise structures around the airports were also underlined as a potential threat source, and ways to secure them were discussed.
The civil aviation ministry proposed that the BCAS be allowed to set up a specialised force to beef up security at all airports, but Doval reportedly shot down the idea.
“Since the CISF has expertise in providing security and the job of BCAS is to set standards of security for civil aviation... they decided to stick with the paramilitary force,” said the official.
The government has decided to hasten the process of bringing all 98 civilian airports in the country under the umbrella of the CISF, and is considering expanding its scope to cover the perimeter of airports. At the moment only 59 airports are under the CISF cover and the rest are being managed by the different forces.
For further vigilance, the construction of additional lanes is being planned to facilitate random checking of vehicles before they drive up to the airport terminal without holding up traffic.
“The CISF chief suggested deploying armoured vehicles for airport security, as he apprehended a bold attack emanating from the traffic approaching the airport,” said the official.
In addition to installing hi-tech scanners, random baggage checks inside the terminal might also be used to detect contraband.
It was decided that local police will be asked to keep a check on drones in areas surrounding airports across the country. The home ministry will circulate advisories to all states in this regard and might also call a meeting of state police officials, if required.