The recently inaugurated Shirdi Airport may soon get an armed security cover of the CISF to thwart possible terror and sabotage threats to the facility, which is located in the famous temple town of Maharashtra. The security force, along with the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the airport operator, will soon conduct a survey of the facility. CISF Director General (DG) O P Singh told PTI that they have received a request in this context and the force is working on modalities to deploy a contingent at the airport. The Central Industrial Security Force, at present, guards 59 civil airports of the country. President Ram Nath Kovind had inaugurated the international airport, in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, on October 1. Located at a distance of 238-km from state capital Mumbai, Shirdi is home to the famous shrine of ‘Sai Baba’ and is one of the prominent pilgrimage centers in the country.
According to an estimate, about 60,000 pilgrims visit Shirdi everyday, out of which the airport authorities plan to tap at least 10-12 per cent. The aerodrome is owned and developed by Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to develop airports in the state. Constructed at an investment of around Rs 350 crore, the airport, with a 2,500 m-long runway, is capable of handling single narrow-body aircraft, such as Airbus A320 and Boeing 737s. The 2,750 sqm terminal building has been designed to handle a total of 300 passengers, including the arriving ones. The nearest airport from here is at Aurangabad, about 125-kms away.
In a related development, the CISF took over the security of the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Port Blair yesterday. A contingent of about 60 armed commandos of the paramilitary have been deployed round-the-clock to guard the sprawling complex against all kinds of threat. The facility functions under the command of the Department of Space (DoS). The centre is tasked to provide tracking support for all the satellite and launch vehicle missions of the Indian Space Research Organisation. The 1.80-lakh personnel strong CISF is tasked to guard vital and critical infrastructure in the government and private domain and it works under the command of the Union home ministry.