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Plan to secure airports cleared, but cloud over who will foot the bill

The ministry of civil aviation proposed in the meeting that securing airports was a sovereign function and thus, the government should bear the cost.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2016 00:37 IST
Hindustan Times
Airport security plan,Airport security,civil aviation minister
A CISF sniffer dog checks baggage at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi (HT file photo)

Who should bear the cost of security of airports across the country?

The issue came up for discussion during a high-level meeting on airport security chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh. The meeting was attended by civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, his deputy Jayant Sinha, minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) chief OP Singh and senior officials from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

According to sources, the ministry of civil aviation proposed in the meeting that securing airports was a sovereign function and thus, the government should bear the cost.

The other stakeholder in the debate, the ministry of home affairs, was in partial agreement with it. The debate is part of the plan for complete overhaul of airport security in the country.

“Yes, we agree that airport security is a sovereign function, but we would like some part of the airport security expenditure to be shared by passengers and airport operators,” said a senior government official.

He added that no final decision was taken on the issue.

At the moment, the airport operator — private or the government’s Airport Authority of India — bears the cost of security.

The other important issues that came up for discussion included handing over security of all civilian airports to the CISF.

The government has already decided to hand over security of all 93 civilian airports to the CISF. The force is guarding 59 civilian airports at the moment. The process is being fast-tracked now.

It was also decided in the meeting to check on drones and other aerial objects around airports.

“Standard operating procedures with regard to flying drones or aerial objects such as hot air balloons are being circulated to all state police and security forces to keep a check on such items as they have emerged as a major security threat to airports,” said the official.

It was also decided to introduce perimeter intrusion detection system at civilian airports. “There is a need to improve the system wherever it is already installed,” said the official.

The government is also planning to deploy quick reaction teams from the CRPF at vulnerable airports.

First Published: Oct 14, 2016 00:34 IST