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Who needs a malfunction?

Airports will have body search x-ray machines that have been criticised for explicit images, writes Archis Mohan.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 02:41 IST

India’s international airports may soon be equipped with body search x-ray machines that have been criticised abroad for providing explicit images of passengers’ bodies.

Backscatter machines bounce low radiation x-rays off people to produce a computer image that will give security staff a real good look at what is under every passenger’s clothing — drugs, weapons or bare skin.

“We have sent a proposal to install these machines to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Airports Authority,” said a CISF spokesperson. The CISF handles airport security across the country. A CISF officer said they expect the proposal to be approved soon.

The machines cost between $100,000 to $200,000. They will initially be installed at the international airports in the four metros only.

At present, airports have metal detectors through which a passenger passes after which which he/she is physical frisked. “These detectors fail to notice plastic explosives. Also, during physical frisking it is not always possible to find drugs or weapons hidden inside the body,” said the officer.

The backscatter machine will reveal all — metals, plastic and organic materials.
CISF says the machines are foolproof. “They are being widely used in Europe and US including Heathrow,” said the officer.