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 (both private and government) 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 allowed airports to outsource security work from staff in five non-essential areas such as separation of passengers at the airport gates, management of queues in front of the boarding counters, baggage control, cargo area and visitor gallery security.

The move comes after the center deemed 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 rest 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 Center’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (Read: UDAN), the deployment of private security guards will ease the burden on the CISF. “Private security agency has been allowed 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 CEO, 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. “Training for private security agencies will be similar to that followed by the 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 to deploy private security guards. Adani-owned Ahmedabad and Guwahati airports have deployed about 100 private security guards to monitor non-essential areas.

“The 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 exercises no control over them. deployed after a pre-deployment and on-the-job training period by the CISF,” said a spokesperson for Adani Airports.

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