Customs audit finds Delhi airport staff using chinks in security set-up to help smugglers
Following the audit, customs department has decided to have its own personnel man the exit gates. If possible, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel will frisk employees leaving the building, customs officials said.delhi Updated: Jan 27, 2018 23:45 IST
Last month, an employee working at Delhi airport was apprehended near the smoking room of Terminal 3 (T3) for allegedly helping a gold smuggler. Investigation revealed that he was not authorised to enter the area from where he was caught.
The incident prompted an audit by customs department, which revealed that there are nine exit points at T3 that were being used by the staffs to sneak out smuggled items. Apart from this, auditors noted that the area near the aerobridge is used for reversed entry (for unauthorised entry or exit).
Following the audit, customs department has decided to have its own personnel man the exit gates. If possible, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel will frisk employees leaving the building, customs officials said.
“During the interrogation, the arrested employee told us that he had entered through the aerobridge area, which is not adequately manned. He had an entry permit for the runway side, but he was not authorised in the arrival hall. The gate where aircraft connect with aerobridge was not working properly and staff used that point to make a reverse entry,” said a customs officer.
Although the gates require biometric access, customs officials said that sometimes staff that have access to the area let others enter.
Customs has seized 214 kg gold this year worth ₹59.92 crore in 2017. In the past three years, customs has arrested 22 airport staff for helping smugglers. This include employees working with airlines, ground handling company, immigration, and even telecom companies having its office inside the terminal building.
Repeated cases involving airport staffers prompted a detailed audit by the customs department to plug the “loopholes” that are used by the smugglers.
“There are nine exit gates meant for employees working at the terminal. We can certainly bring down this number by shutting some of them as it is impossible to keep a close watch on every gate. CISF is posted at every gate to stop reverse entry, but when staff exits, they just check the identity card. They do not check the staff to see if they are trying to smuggle something,” the officer added.
A CISF officer said that they randomly frisk employees at the exit gates.
Customs officials said that they also have a staff crunch and cannot post personnel at every gate to frisk employees while exiting.
“We also cannot just let one exit point, the area from where passengers exit. This will be chaotic and lead to long queues. We have had several round of meetings to try and find a solution to this issue,” said another customs officer posted at the Delhi airport.