With smart CCTVs & armoured vans, airports to beef up security

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NEW DELHI : A major plan to provide an enhanced anti-terror cover to airports is in the offing which will involve deploying smart CCTV cameras, armoured vehicles and perimeter protection fences at these facilities.
The CISF, tasked with providing armed cover to 59 civil airports in the country, has embarked on a first-ever mission to prepare a ‘concept paper’ to standardise security gadgetry and infrastructure at these locations.
Once in place, the country’s airports would be among some of the best secured across the globe.
A high-power panel comprising officials of the CISF, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and airport operators has begun conducting a ground assessment at select airports and the beginning of ‘tag-free’ hand baggage for passengers is a measure in this direction.
The initial upgrade of such security systems is expected to be operationalised in the next few months.
“We are in the process of preparing a concept paper for integrating the overall security architecture at airports under our cover. It will spell out the entire gamut of security-related protocols. We expect that our task in this domain will enhance and hence standardisation of such issues is important,” CISF Director General O P Singh told PTI.
He said the paper will be shared with other stakeholders in airport security for its effective implementation and with an aim to put it in place in one go.
A senior official supervising airports, under the command of the Union Home Ministry, said a series of smart gadgetry coupled with changed layout of physical barriers will soon come up.
A blueprint prepared in this regard by security agencies, also accessed by PTI, states that the “CCTV systems that monitor pre-embarkation checks and security hold area need to be upgraded to capture the whole gamut of activities from the terminal area upto the aircraft”.
“It is desirable that every part of terminal building (especially the sterile zone that passengers enter after their physical frisking) has CCTV coverage without any grey areas,” it states.
“Video analytics features in the existing CCTV cameras are required to be installed. This would help in identification of passenger, staff and unattended baggage in a lesser time to make analysis and fix accountability,” it said.
The blueprint also stipulates that the quick reaction teams of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) should immediately be provided with armoured vehicles to effectively counter a terrorist attack.
Large airports like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru should be secured by foolproof intrusion-detection systems or perimeter fences, it says.
It adds that there is an urgent requirement for “re-arrangement of layout of the security hold area so that the threat baggage segregated for physical checking can be kept out of reach of the passenger.”
It says that the “re-arrangement of security layout” assumes significance at a time when it has been decided to do away with stamping and tagging of the hand baggage.
The physical stamping of these tags ensures that there is an accountability as to which security personnel cleared what bag.
The official added that the select seven airports– Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Cochin, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad– will also undergo a change in the length of the output roller coming from the X-ray machine so that both ‘clean’ and ‘suspect’ bags can be identified easily for further verification.
He said these airports will also have “dedicated” CCTV cameras which will have power backup facility so that these surveillance gadgets function even when the normal power trips or shuts down due to an accident or emergency.
Such backup cameras will be installed at other airports too, the official said.
Manpower enhancement of the CISF at the airports is also being done, the official said, adding bolstering has recently been done at the Guwahati and Dehradun airports.
Out of the 26 ‘hyper-sensitive’ airports in the country, like the ones in metro cities of Mumbai and Delhi, 18 are under CISF cover while six, like Srinagar, and others are not.
Under the sensitive category there are 56 airports out of which only 37 have the paramilitary cover and amongst 16 normal airports, only four have CISF security.
To sum up, out of the total 98 functional airports in the country, 59 are under CISF cover leaving out 39.
Out of the 59 airports, 53 are operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and six by joint ventures or private players