The audit report of the highly sensitive Jammu, Srinagar and Leh airports is under final scrutiny of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) that will send its endorsement “very soon” to the Union Home Ministry, to hand over the security responsibility of these airports to the CISF from the CRPF.
It is, however, yet to be decided whether the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) would provide security cover in both inner and outer circles of these airports. The strength of security personnel to be deployed on these airports is also not decided yet.
Sources in BCAS said the possibility was that the “core area” or inner security would be given to CISF while the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which has been providing over all security cover to these airports since 1990, would secure only outer circle.
“BCAS’ scrutiny of the audit report is in final mode. It will soon send its endorsement to the Home Ministry which will take the final call whether CISF will provide inner and outer security both or CRPF will continue its role in outer circle of Jammu, Srinagar and Leh airports,” a Ministry official said, requesting anonymity.
“The number of CISF personnel to be deployed on each of the three airports will be decided later as per the Home Ministry’s approval.”
The Home Ministry last November had decided to hand over security of these airports to CISF from CRPF on the “same terms and conditions” which are in force for deployment of the CISF at other airports. The move was intended to bring uniformity in the Indian aviation sector.
Of 101 operational airports in India, the CISF is deployed in 61 airports. With the addition of the three airports, the number of CISF-guarded airports will go up to 64.
The audit report was prepared by a joint team of CISF, Airport Authority of India (AAI) and BCAS.
The report was then submitted to the BCAS in the end of December, mentioning loopholes and various requirements, including equipment and personnel.
A CISF official, on the condition of anonymity, told IANS: “As the audit report is with the BCAS and the final nod by Home Ministry is still pending, it would not be good to talk about what kind of changes will be done by CISF on the three J&K airports. But, in the audit report, we have mentioned that the existing security infrastructure will not be changed at these airports.
“If we think about any change, it can be done on installing more CCTV cameras. However, we have mentioned in the audit report about the number of troops, equipment and weapons required to provide security at these airports.”
The official said “we had mentioned the break-up of personnel and equipment needed both for inner and outer circle deployment”.
“As per an estimate, the official said over 1,200 personnel, are needed to provide round the clock security at these airports.”
The three airports, as per an estimate, handled over 50 lakh passengers in 2018 which is almost double of their capacity, he added.
The CISF is also likely to continue with the practice of baggage stamping at these sensitive airports.
All these three airports in Jammu and Kashmir are considered highly sensitive due to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the state.
The government has been discussing deployment of CISF — a highly skilled aviation security force — at Jammu and Kashmir airports for several years. The CRPF has, however, opposed the move.