The specialised Aviation Security Group (ASG) of the CISF, that guards 66 civil airports of the country, has been sanctioned an enhanced manpower of more than 6,500 personnel over the past 18 months to cater to the ever-increasing load of passengers and expansion of the existing facilities, official sources said. With the allocation of fresh personnel, the overall strength of this unit deployed to secure civil airports against terrorist, hijack and sabotage threats is now about 37,000 men and women including commando-trained troops, they said.
They said the fresh manpower has been granted to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) primarily for three reasons – the increasing passenger traffic volume, expansion of existing airports and the creation of new ones.
Some of these 6,500 personnel were getting deployed at the airports in an ad-hoc or temporary manner to cater to the increased demand. They were being borrowed from other CISF units, sources in the aviation security establishment told PTI.
The Union home ministry has sanctioned these posts in a gradual manner over the last one-and-a-half year so that around 6,500 personnel could be permanently inducted into the ASG, trained in aviation security procedures and deployed for security duties at 66 airports under the CISF cover at present.
Out of this fresh strength, about 1,700 personnel have been earmarked for the international airport in Bengaluru and 1,400 for the Delhi international airport, the sources said.
The Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru got a new terminal last November while the Indira Gandhi International Airport has seen an enhanced passenger traffic and expansion of terminals over the last few years.
The force has also been granted an in-principle approval for deploying its armed personnel at the upcoming greenfield airports at Jewar in Greater Noida (Uttar Pradesh) and Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra.
The two airports, that are expected to be operationalised in the first phase by late next year, will have a deployment of about 4,000 CISF personnel each.
The manpower sanction for these two airports will be made separately and a proposal is currently under preparation, the sources said.
The CISF, as part of its ASG, deploys armed personnel to secure the city side and tarmac side of the airports including rendering the task of frisking passengers and their check-in baggage and deploying intelligence teams to check suspicious activities at these mass transport air facilities.
India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world and domestic airlines flew around 1.25 crore passengers in June, a growth of around 19 per cent compared to the period a year ago.
The civil aviation ministry last week had said that in order to prevent possible congestion at the airports during the upcoming festival season in the country, authorities are working to deploy additional CISF manpower, X-ray machines and check-in counters at various airports.
Some of the airports where this capacity and manpower augmentation will be done include those in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Chennai. PTI