The suggestion made by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to remove the presence of the Central Industrial Security Force from the “non-core” areas of airport security has been shot down by all the stakeholders looking after the security of the aviation sector in India.
According to sources, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had suggested late last year to do away with the presence of the CISF in certain “non-core” areas of operations in airport terminal buildings as well as other important locations with a view to cutting costs and expenditure being borne by the airport operators. According to highly placed sources, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and even the CISF have not agreed to the suggestion that was made by the ministry, keeping in view the sensitivity of the airport terminal buildings and the security threat involved at a time when the world is witnessing a rise in terrorist activities. The proposal from the ministry suggested that the “non-core” areas of security would involve frisking, checking boarding passes, baggage tags as well as guiding passengers and other activities inside the terminal building, and such activities would be conducted by retired Army or para-military personnel, while the CISF would continue to provide security to the airport from outside the terminal buildings.
A senior CISF officer told The Sunday Guardian, “Airport security is of paramount importance and security inside the terminal building is equally important. We cannot compromise on the security of passengers and airports in the name of cutting costs. The presence of CISF is very much needed inside the terminal building to ensure safe and smooth conduct of operations by airlines.”
Currently, about 28,700 CISF personnel guard almost all the airports in India, including frisking of passengers and airport staff, checking of baggages, critical observation and safeguarding critical establishments across all the major airports in the country.
Aviation security experts have also raised concerns over such a proposal by the Ministry as they believe it would jeopardise aviation operations and the safety and security of all inside the terminal buildings of the airports.
Kanu Gohain, former chairman of DGCA, told The Sunday Guardian, “There is nothing called non-core areas inside the terminal building. How can CISF be removed from inside the terminal building? It is one of the most important critical infrastructure of the airport building. The presence of central security force is important at the operational areas as well as other sensitive areas to secure the airports and it cannot be compromised with. The removal of these forces from such areas would be a bad move and could jeopardise operational safety.”