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Lost and found at our airports

The most absent-minded people perhaps fly from Delhi, going by the huge heap of forgotten items at IGIA, reports Sidhartha Roy.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2008 02:09 IST
Sidhartha Roy
Sidhartha Roy
Hindustan Times

The most absent-minded people perhaps fly from Delhi, going by the huge heap of forgotten items — the country’s biggest — collected at the Indira Gandhi International Airport over the past one year.

In 2007, passengers left behind belongings worth more than Rs 10 crore at airports across the country, says the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which looks after airport security. Almost half of these items, worth Rs 4.75 crore, were found at the Delhi airport. Despite handling more passengers, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is second with unclaimed items worth Rs 1.2 crore.

The list of forgotten items has almost everything — from expensive mobile phones, laptops and cameras to cooking oil, desi ghee, hair oil and even walking sticks. One left behind a fishing kit. And then, some forgot their clothes.

People have even left behind cash; from a bag containing Rs 5 lakh found at the Delhi airport to a Rs 5 note at the Ahmedabad airport.

The most-forgotten are the mobile phones (90 per cent). “During security check, passengers have to deposit their mobile phones on a tray. Many forget to take it back,” said a CISF officer. Laptops and cameras come next. In Delhi, two other items dominate the list — liquor (all kinds) and knives. “Most don’t know that you cannot carry knives, screwdrivers or liquor on board. When we find a liquor bottle with a passenger’s name, we give it to the airline so that he gets it at his destination,” the officer said.

“We view such items, especially mobiles, as security risks. These items go a check, after which we try to locate the owner,” said CISF spokesman Vertul Singh. If the passenger is not found, the item is deposited with the airport manager. “We return items to claimants after verification. The items are auctioned if no one claims them for more than one year,” said a senior airport official.