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After fiasco, full-body scanners to make comeback at Indian airports

Dec 01 2013, 12:36 IST
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So far, none of 125 AAI-run and five privately-operated airports have such crucial security equipment. (AP) So far, none of 125 AAI-run and five privately-operated airports have such crucial security equipment. (AP)
SummarySo far, none of 125 AAI-run and five privately-operated airports have such crucial security equipment.

The national airports operator Airports Authority of India (AAI) will soon install millimeter-wave technology-based full-body scanners at two non-metro airports on a trial basis, sources have said.

So far, none of the 125 AAI-run and five privately-operated airports have such a crucial security equipment.

"We have received two full-body scanners from GE Corp of the US, which we are going to install at two airports on a trial basis," AAI sources told PTI.

These scanners, which work on millimeter-wave technology, do not compromise with the privacy of a passenger, the sources said, adding, "We want to gauge the acceptability level of passengers before installing them across all airports."

The sources, however, did not name the airports where these machines are being deployed or a timeline for the installation citing security reasons.

"One of these scanners is likely to be installed at an airport in the extreme North and one in the Western region. We will decide on airports shortly," the sources added.

At present, security agencies at the airports use door frame metal detectors and hand-held scanners besides pat-down searches to detect metallic objects.

In 2010, when a full-body scanner was installed on a trial basis at the domestic terminal of the New Delhi airport, the move had met with stiff resistance from passengers, mainly women, citing privacy. The move was following the 'underwear bomb' incident at the Detroit airport in the US in 2009.

"The millimeter wave-technology-based scanner addresses the privacy concern as it does not outline the body contours, but only generates a generic image," the sources said.

On the mass deployment, they said, it will take time as it requires both high investment as well as acceptance from passengers.

"Each airport will require at least one machine and each scanner costs over Rs 1 crore. So this requires huge investment. Moreover, travelers will have to be convinced that these scanners, unlike other such equipments, do not come in the way of their privacy," the AAI sources said.

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