Airline passengers, who mistakenly leave behind their baggage at the airport, might soon feel the pinch.
Peeved at the rising number of bomb hoax calls triggered by unclaimed baggage at the Mumbai airport, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is now proposing a six-fold increase in the fine levied on people careless with their baggage.
Currently, the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) charges a fine of Rs 500 from careless passengers because
luggage lying unattended or unclaimed at the terminal leads to a security alert.
“We should increase the fine to Rs 3,000. People will not realise the seriousness of this problem unless we fine them heavily,” said Jitender Negi, senior commandant, CISF.
He added that an unclaimed bag triggers a massive security drill leading to a temporary shut down at the airport. The proposal to increase the fine amount will be discussed during the airport security meet next week.
Last month, when an unclaimed bag was found near the check-in counters at the domestic terminal 1 B, security personnel evacuated the entire terminal and airline staff stopped issuing boarding cards and moving baggage. Soon the bomb detection and disposal squad reached the spot with sniffer dogs. The bag contained only clothes and toiletries. The wasteful exercise disrupted airport operations for 15 minutes.
The country’s busiest airport has witnessed over 2,000 cases of unclaimed baggage and goods from January to August. Some repeat offenders have, in fact, been handed over to the police, which let them off with a warning.
The unclaimed goods usually comprise electronic items such as cellphones, laptops and pen drives, which are found in the check-in area or the security hold of the terminal. The airport’s lost and found room is also stuffed with luxury liquor brands, cash, ornaments, foodstuff and clothes.
Last month, the paramilitary force started an online portal for tracking lost-and-found items across 57 airports it mans. Passengers need to select the airport where their belongings went missing and look up a list of lost-and-found items that gets updated on the portal every day.