BEGINNING APRIL 1, there will be no security stamping of hand baggage tags at seven major airports, including Delhi and Mumbai, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) said Thursday. The other airports where this practice will be scrapped are Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi and Ahmedabad.
The decision comes weeks after Home Ministry had raised the red flag on doing away with this security step. On February 23, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) had moved to scrap the stamping of hand baggage but it was put on hold by the Home Ministry after the CISF argued that there wasn’t sufficient technology in place to replace the process.
“Having made the required changes in the security set-up, along with infusion of new technology, we have decided to do away with hand baggage stamping at seven airports. The new system will speed up the security check procedure and give more time to CISF personnel for checking suspect baggage. We are committed to giving air passengers a hassle-free journey without compromising on security,” said CISF D-G OP Singh.
CISF sources said that to ensure that the removal of baggage stamping does not adversely impact security, a large number of high-definition cameras have been installed, and existing cameras re-oriented to cover gaps.
“The two airports at Delhi have been made completely free of blind spots,” said Singh.
Sources said that at Delhi, 44 new HD cameras have been installed in the security hold area and 36 more in the pre-embarkation area. In Mumbai, 85 new HD cameras have been installed, they said.
“PTZ cameras (that swivel) have also been installed in addition to fixed cameras for minimising grey areas at the airports,” said a CISF officer. Apart from this, the length of the output roller of the baggage scanner has been extended at the select airports to give CISF time to inspect “suspect” baggage. An acrylic barrier has also been put at the place to ensure that passengers leave with their baggage immediately after X-Ray scanning, said the officer.
The idea behind infusing such technology, sources said, was to ensure that responsibility can be fixed in the event of a security lapse and to help in any post-incident investigation.
On March 2, the Home Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation had put on hold BCAS’s February circular declaring that the mandatory practice of putting security stamp on hand baggage tags at airports be done away with “immediate effect”.
It had then been decided to form a committee comprising senior officials from the BCAS, CISF and operators of the seven airports to plug the “grey” areas at these sensitive facilities so that the possibility of a security breach can be ruled out once the stamping of tags is done away with.
“The scheme has been cleared at these airports after ratification by the committee. A similar exercise would be conducted simultaneously at the remaining 52 airports under the CISF cover for recommending modifications in the security architecture and CCTV systems so that this scheme could be implemented there as well,” said the CISF officer.