Parliamentary panel on lack of airport equipment

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has raised “strong objection” to the non-availability of “crucial” bomb detection equipment at five airports in the country as well as deficiency of similar gadgets at all the 22 hyper-sensitive and international airports.

The department-related parliamentary standing committee on home affairs expressed its concern that among the hyper-sensitive aerodromes, the Jodhpur airport in Rajasthan reported having only 1 equipment, out of the mandated 28, to detect and defuse a bomb or an explosive.

“The committee takes a strong objection to the fact that at five airports (Bagdogra, Guwahati, Trivandrum, Calicut and Ahmedabad) some of the crucial bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) equipments have not been provided by the Airports Authority of India and few of the essential BDDS equipments are either not working or are under repair since long,” it said.

At the five airports, the report said, a few of the crucial BDDS equipments have not yet been provided by AAI and a few of the essential BDDS equipments are “either not working or are under repair since long”.

The panel was informed that the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the national force for civil aviation security, was rendering the bomb detection tasks at these airports “with available equipments” while its disposal is being done by local police or other agencies.

“The committee is at pains to observe that in the absence of such crucial and essential equipments the aviation security group (ASG) is not operational at these airports, therefore the CISF faces acute problem in performing anti-sabotage and bomb detection duties at these airports.”

“The committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry of Home Affairs should appropriately intervene and take up the matter with airport operators, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security to meet the requirements of CISF at these five airports on priority,” the panel said in its latest report tabled in Rajya Sabha.

The MHA, the panel said in its report, should also take up the matter urgently for providing adequate number of BDDS equipments required at 22 hyper-sensitive and international airports without delay.

These 22 airports are located in Delhi (IGI), Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Cochin, Amritsar, Agartala, Ahmedabad, Bagdogra, Calicut, Guwahati, Imphal, Jaipur, Pune, Raipur, Trivandrum, Varanasi, Goa, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Jodhpur.

While at the Jodhpur airport, the deficiency is of 27 BDDS equipments out of the 28 mandated, at Lucknow the shortfall is of 26 equipments.

The report stated that at the important Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, three such equipments have been found to be deficient.

The panel, during its meetings with various stake holders involved in civil aviation security of the country, was informed that at present “BDDS of CISF has been operationalised only at 7 airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Cochin and Amritsar.”

In its recommendations, the panel said it would like to be “apprised” of the status of operationalisation of CISF BDDS system at 8 more airports, that was scheduled by May, 2019, after revision of bomb threats and contingency plan and completion of refresher training courses to BDDS personnel.

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