Parliamentary panel raises concern, recommends bringing all airports under CISF cover.


New Delhi: A little over 50% of all the operational airports in India are under the security cover of the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) raising a cause of concern by the Parliamentary panel on Transport, Tourism and Culture, that has asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Home Affairs to reconsider the security deployment in these airports, keeping in view the current threat perception in the country and recommended to bring all airports under CISF cover.
The Parliamentary panel headed by BJP MP T.G. Venkatesh in its report submitted to the Parliament in March this year, further found out that out of the total 90 airports categorised as sensitive and hypersensitive, 30 of them were not covered under CISF security and was being manned by the local state police.
In its report to the Parliament, the Committee said, “The Committee notes that out of 118 operational airports, only 64 airports are under CISF cover, while 54 airports have no such cover. Further, out of the 28 hypersensitive airports, 21 have CISF cover; while for the 62 sensitive airports, only 39 have been given Central Industrial Security Force cover. The Committee recommends that the Government should strive to bring all the operational airports under the ambit of CISF security cover.”
The list of hyper sensitive airports that are currently covered by the CISF includes: Amritsar, IGI Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Lucknow, Agartala, Bagdogra, Guwahati, Imphal, Kolkata, Raipur, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Jodhpur, Ahmedabad. While Srinagar, Jammu and Leh airports falling under the hyper sensitive category was recently put under the CISF over.
The list the sensitive airports under the CISF cover includes: Agra, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Bhuj, Indore, Goa, Bhuntar, Nagpur, Kanpur, Vadodara, Shimla, Calicut, Udaipur, Cochin, Dehradun, Silchar, Coimbatore, Khajuraho, Mangalore, Dibrugarh, Tirupati, Dimapur,Trichy, Gaya, Thiruvananthapuram, Diu, Jorhat,Vizag, Lilabari, Tezpur, Patna, Shillong, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Aurangabad, Port Blair and Porbandar.
The Parliamentary panel that was examining the issues related to security in the Aviation sector also recommended that full strength of the CISF dedicated for airport security cover should be provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs. “The Committee notes that though the vacancy position of CISF at airports, as compared to the total sanctioned strength, is satisfactory, yet there is a vacancy of 1166 security personnel. The Committee is of the opinion that in view of the high-tech methods of intrusion used by the subversive elements at airports, at least the full sanctioned strength of CISF should be provided at airports in the country,” the report said.
Currently, the CISF has a posted strength of 29,399 personnel manning various airports across the country as against the sanctioned strength of 30,003 personnel for airport security. This leaves the CISF’s airport security wing with a vacancy for 1166 personnel.
The CISF that was roped in to provide security to airports across India in the year 2000 is responsible for all areas of airport security including Perimeter Security, Access Control, Terminal Building Security, Apron Security, Surveillance, anti-hijacking pre-embarkation checks, Passenger Handling etc. And for these roles, the CISF has been categorised into three operational units that carry out specific jobs at the airports.
For example, the Anti-hijacking Unit is responsible for the Pre-embarkation security check of passengers and cabin baggage; and Access control of passengers, visitors, staff of various agencies, catering personnel, cargo and courier into the airport, while the Protection Unit of the CISF is responsible for the Protection of airport and its perimeter; having a Quick Reaction Team; and for Cordoning of aircraft during contingencies (except civil enclaves) and the Intelligence and Surveillance Unit takes care of the Surveillance at airports for security.
However, as part of the Quick Reaction Team, each airport is supposed to have a Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) to tackle any terror attack or threat.
However, as per the Parliamentary panel report, only 20 airports of the total 65 airports manned by the Central Industrial Security Force have an operationalised BDDS. This has once again raised concerns among the members of the Parliamentary panel. In its report to the Parliament the committee said, “The Committee notes that only 20 airports have BDDS cover till date. It is also observed that at some places where CISF does not have BDDS support, support of local police is being sought. The Committee is of the opinion that local police may not have the technical competence or the desired high-tech equipment to dispose of bomb threats. The Committee, therefore, recommends that BDDS should be engaged at the earliest at all the remaining 44 airports as well to counter bomb threats in consultation and 17 coordination with the MHA. The Committee also recommends that the BDDS squad should have the best international pedigree dogs which can be engaged for security at airports.”