Airports authorized to deploy private security guards

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In a significant change in the way airport security is handled, the government has allowed airport operators to deploy private security guards at airports.

It is the first time since 2002 that private security has been allowed at airports since the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) became responsible for airport security after the Kandahar Hijack incident.

In an instruction adopted by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the nodal agency responsible for aviation security, it has allowed airports to outsource security work from staff in non-essential areas such as separation of passengers at airport gates, management of queues at boarding counters, baggage control, cargo area and visitor gallery security.

The move comes after the center felt that CISF’s strength was not sufficient to meet the burgeoning growth in air traffic. Currently, out of 118 operational airports, 64 are managed by CISF’s aviation security group. The others belong to the state police or the Indian reserve battalions. Against the required security manpower at airports of 30,003, the CISF has 29,399, leaving a shortfall, according to a Center survey.

With increasing traffic at major metropolitan airports and a number of new airports joining the Indian airline network through the centre’s UDAN (Regional Connectivity Scheme) programme, the deployment of private security guards will ease the burden on the CISF. “The private security agency has been authorized in non-essential or non-strategic areas of airports. Along with CISF, if private security guards are also deployed, it will increase the efficiency and quality of airport security,” said Jaideep Prasad, Joint MD, BCAS.

He also said that the private security guards will work under the direct operational control of the CISF and will also be trained by it. “The formation of a private security agency will be similar to that followed by CISF. As private security personnel gain visibility, this will help the industry in the long run, which is experiencing an exponential increase in traffic,” Prasad said.

Several private airports have already started deploying private security guards. Adani-owned Ahmedabad and Guwahati airports have deployed around 100 private security guards to monitor non-essential areas.

“The current deployment of private security agencies covers non-essential security areas and the individuals deployed continue to be under the command and control of the CISF. The airport operator has no control over them. They were deployed after an elaborate period of pre-deployment and on-the-job training by CISF. Ahmedabad and Guwahati Airport prioritizes passenger safety and security and places this at the center of its operational strategy. The deployment of private security for non-essential tasks allows CISF to focus on essential tasks and provides better security at our airports,” a spokesperson for Adani Airports said.

Similarly, Delhi Airport, owned by GMR, has also started rolling them out in areas such as the Cargo Terminal, managing the queue at Terminals 1 and 2. “As per instructions from BCAS, a private security agency has been contracted to undertake the five non-basic security functions at Delhi airport.Private security agency personnel are currently being deployed, under the command and control of CISF” said a Delhi airport spokesman.

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