A new proposal to bolster security at country’s major civil airports by “rationalising” about 3,000 CISF personnel and substituting them by high-end surveillance gadgets is being reviewed by the government for possible implementation, official sources today said. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) here has prepared a voluminous blueprint on reducing the number of security personnel in a clutch of “non-sensitive duties” at airports and use them for other important security tasks. The proposal, after review by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has now been sent to the Union home ministry for final deliberations and approval.
The concept paper of the plan, accessed by the PTI, talks about “rationalising” and “reducing” the security personnel from non-sensitive duties like manning unused transit gates at airports, passenger queue management, manning air traffic control (ATC) gates and similar administrative tasks. “The proposal talks about reducing about 3,000 CISF security personnel from airport security duties, out of the total about 27,000, and they will be replaced by smart and analytical gadgetry, CCTV cameras and other surveillance tools,” a senior home ministry official, privy to the contents of the proposal, said.
Such processes, with the aid of smart security gadgets, are deployed for aviation security across the globe, the official said. Smart surveillance systems, he said, are the need of the hour at Indian airports, given their vulnerability against terror threats. The official said the CISF conducted a full ground survey, at all the 59 civil airports it guards, for preparing the proposal. It was important to undertake such a study and survey as the government has embarked on a multi-tier plan to effectively secure airports against the threats of terrorism and hijacks, he said.
The official added the manpower that is “rationalised” or is rendered free as a result of the implementation of the proposal can be used to secure those civil airports that will come under the CISF security cover in the coming days. “Increasing manpower is not the solution to bolster airport security but using technology to act as force multiplier is the answer,” he said. The recent decision to do away with the stamping of commuters’ hand baggage tags at airports has also propelled the new security mechanism where a task done by a security personnel can be performed by smart CCTV cameras and other gadgets, the official said.
The government has already begun the process to create a uniform security platform for all airports, including the 45 which were added under a new regional connectivity scheme. Out of the 98 functional airports in the country, 59 are under the CISF cover. Twenty-six of them, including Delhi’s and Mumbai’s, are in the hyper-sensitive category. Of these hyper-sensitive airports, 18 are under the CISF cover, while six like Srinagar and Imphal, are being guarded by the CRPF or the state police.
Under the sensitive category, there are 56 airports out of which only 37 are under the CISF cover. The list of airports has gone up to 143 with the inclusion of 45 small airports after the launch of regional connectivity scheme, named ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’ (Udan). The ‘Udan’ scheme was launched early this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an aim to provide air connectivity to small cities.