Govt threatens to withdraw Delhi airport security over payment dispute
According to the officials, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) airport owes over Rs 600 crore to CISF.Updated: Jul 17, 2018 06:50 IST
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport may be left without security cover if a long-running payment dispute between the airport’s operator and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is not resolved soon, according to officials familiar with the development who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In the first week of July, the Union home secretary wrote to the ministry of civil aviation saying the home ministry would have no option but to withdraw security to the airport if payment isn’t expedited. HT has reviewed a copy of the letter which adds that this will start with the withdrawal of security to the cargo terminal
According to the officials, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) airport owes over Rs 600 crore to CISF. The amount has added up, owing to a dispute over how much the paramilitary force has to be paid, and the dispute has never been resolved . CISF has repeatedly claimed that DIAL is only making partial payments to it rather than the full amount. Over the past four years, for instance, DIAL paid at least Rs 100 crore less every year for its annual security bill, CISF claims.
Representatives of the airport blamed rising costs. “DIAL collects PSF (passenger security fee) from passengers as per a tariff decided 10 years back and the entire collection passes through an escrow account subject to CAG Audit. DIAL is meeting security-related expenses out of this escrow account... Due to increase in costs over the collection over a period of time, there is a deficit in PSF(SC) account,” said a spokesperson for the operator, adding that the company is in talks with CISF and the civil aviation ministry over the issue.
The GMR Group-led Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) is a company owned by GMR Group, Airports Authority of India and Fraport.
CISF, one of seven security forces under the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA), guards critical installations and facilities across the country including all airports and atomic power plants. The costs for its services are paid into a consolidated fund managed by the MHA, which pays CISF’s salaries.
In the case of airports, the cost of security is recovered from passengers.
A CISF officer, quoting the letter written last week, said that the home secretary has given DIAL till September to make the payments. Otherwise, he added, CISF personnel would be withdrawn from the cargo terminal in phases immediately after that, and pulled out completely from the passenger terminal by December.
“The secretary has talked about de-induction in case DIAL fails to make the payment in three months. He has also said that DIAL should make the payment of three months in advance into a consolidated fund,” added the CISF officer who asked not to be named.
Rajeev Ranjan, Director General of CISF, declined comment citing the sensitivity of the issue.
The civil aviation ministry did not respond to requests for a comment.
Last year, DIAL said that there was a need to increase passenger security fee (PSF) . At the moment, every departing passenger pays Rs 130 as security fee and ₹70 as a facilitation charge, which DIAL wants to increase.
According to people familiar with the matter, the payments were regular till September 2012. In 2016-17, DIAL collected Rs 336 crore from passengers but paid Rs 204 crore to CISF, saying the rest of the amount went towards loan interest, service tax and administrative charges.
From 9.43 million passengers departing from Delhi airport in 2006-07, the number nearly doubled to 16.31 million in 2014-15. By 2018, Delhi airport was handling over 60 million. DIAL wrote to the government last year saying that collections over the previous 10 years had increased by 171.32% but expenditure had gone up by 706.68%.
At present, more than 4,000 CISF personnel are posted at Delhi airport, up from nearly 2,400 in 2007, and there is a proposal to further increase the manpower considering the sensitivity of the installation.
“CISF, wherever it is deployed, works on cost reimbursement basis and the installation whether it is private sector or government establishment, has to pay for it. I don’t know how someone can refuse to pay the money,” said Arvind Ranjan, former director general of CISF.