The CISF today took over security of the international airport in Maharashtra's temple town of Shirdi, which is frequented by lakhs of Sai Baba devotees every year.
The CISF today took over security of the international airport in Maharashtra’s temple town of Shirdi, which is frequented by lakhs of Sai Baba devotees every year. A contingent of over 180 armed personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), headed by a Deputy Commandant-rank officer, were inducted at the civil facility after a ceremonial event. Located in Ahmednagar district, 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 centres in the country.
The temple is about 12 km from the 1,300 acre airport that is located in Kakadi village. With this latest induction, the CISF now guards a total of 60 civil airports in the country. The Union Home Ministry had in January cleared the proposal to deploy the paramilitary force at the facility which was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind on October 1 last year. According to a CISF spokesperson, the contingent, that includes both men and women, will be guarding the airport 24×7, apart from providing a counter-terror cover to the facility using vehicle-borne quick reaction teams (QRTs).
The enhancement in the number of airports under the CISF cover has come after six years as the force was last inducted at the Diu airport in March, 2012. According to estimates, about 60,000 pilgrims visit Shirdi everyday, out of which the airport authorities have said they 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 force, along with the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the airport operator, has conducted a security survey of the facility last year. The 1.80 lakh personnel strong CISF is tasked with guarding vital and critical infrastructure in the government and private domain and it works under the command of the Union Home Ministry.