Passengers flying out of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport may soon have to pass through a full body scanner machine which has been newly inducted in the airport by BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security) and DIAL (Delhi International Airport Limited) to upgrade the airport security apparatus at a time the world is facing threats from extremist forces.

The full body scanner machine that has been put to use on a trial basis at IGI airport’s T3 (Terminal 3) domestic departure, works with the “millimeter wavelength” technology. The machine will reflect the body’s outline image of the person passing through it to reveal anything that has been hidden under the clothes.

The machine procured at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore is based on American technology and manufacturers of the machine have already started training Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officials responsible for handling security at all airports in India. According to CISF officials, the manufacturers have already trained 60 CISF officials to handle this machine, which would include 10 “master trainers” as resource persons who would further train other officials.

“A full body scanner machine is currently in use in the domestic terminal of T3 airport in Delhi and is currently undergoing its trial phase. Passengers travelling out of Delhi airport are being given an option to pass through this machine and this is not mandatory at the moment. However, persons passing through this machine are also physically frisked since it is still in the trial phase,” a senior CISF official said.

The official added that the machine can detect anything hidden under clothes, including weapons, explosives, chemicals, contraband drugs and precious metals, among other items.

The body scanner is likely to be made fully operational after analysing the performance of the machine during the trial period, by early next year.

Such machines, used in almost all important airports abroad, have also raised concerns about the privacy of individuals passing through the machines, as it produces outline images of the body and can be misused by security personnel.

Asked by The Sunday Guardian about privacy concerns due to the use of the machines, security agencies played down any such privacy issues and said that all due care and measures have been taken to see that no incidents of breach of privacy happens.

“The machine works on a different technology than the ones which are installed at airports abroad. This machine only provides an outline like image of the person passing through it and one cannot detect any body parts. Despite this, we have taken precautions. Registration of ID of the security personnel logged onto this machine would be done to check on the privacy factor of all passengers passing through this body scanner,” a senior security official said.

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