Under the Center’s plan, 60 airports will soon have comprehensive armed security.

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The home ministry has yet to give the proposal final policy approval.

New Delhi: According to officials, more than 60 airports operating in tier-two and tier-three cities as part of the Center’s regional connectivity programme UDAN will soon be placed under a thorough anti-terror security cover of armed CISF personnel with the deployment of about 1,650 troops.

The home ministry has not yet given the proposal final policy approval. In consultation with the ministry of civil aviation and the CISF, the bureau of civil aviation security (BCAS) finalised the proposal for the “very important security measure” necessary for the safety of passengers taking flights from small air terminals across India.

Some airports such as Shimla which are under the regional connectivity scheme, are being guarded by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) while the rest are secured by various state police forces or their special armed units and there is no uniform policy.

The regional connectivity scheme was launched under the name of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) on October 21, 2016, by the Union government to stimulate regional air connectivity and make air travel affordable to the masses residing in tier-2 and tier-3 cities and towns.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is in charge of putting the ambitious plan of the Narendra Modi administration into action, while the civil aviation ministry is in charge of regulating the industry.

Each of the airports operating under the UDAN scheme will have 57 security personnel deployed, with 27 of them being armed and coming from the CISF, and the rest coming from licenced private security firms, according to a new blueprint obtained by PTI.

The 66 main domestic and foreign airports in the nation are protected by the CISF, which is the nation’s civil aviation security force.

“The CISF will get the fresh manpower to guard all the UDAN airports from the pool of 3,049 posts that were recently abolished, from the airports that it is guarding, and replaced by hiring a total of 1,924 private security personnel for these tasks,” a senior official from the home ministry said.

According to officials, in addition to installing security tools and equipment like hand-held metal detectors for passenger frisking and baggage scanning x-ray machines, the concerned state government and the AAI will provide lodging facilities for the 57 personnel who are supposed to be deployed at each airport under the regional connectivity scheme.

Because the terminals are so small and there are so few flights from them, these facilities are not required to be on the airport grounds. In some instances, the CISF will draw its manpower from its nearest available security unit from where the troops can make a short trip, to be in place before the departure, they said. The lodging facilities can be provided at a nearby government barrack or residential unit.

According to a senior security officer, the proposal sent to the home ministry has kept costs in check and security measures effective because the UDAN scheme’s passenger tickets are inexpensive.

Overall control of the anti-terror and anti-hijack cover will rest with the CISF. According to him, it will also guarantee surveillance and defence of the terminal using a quick reaction team (QRT) model, with soldiers stationed at strategic locations to thwart any terrorist attack attempt.

The blueprint states that the BCAS will certify and issue licences to private security personnel for each airport, while the CISF will deploy close to 1,650 personnel to protect airports as part of the regional connectivity scheme.

“The airports included in the regional connectivity plan are just as significant as other sizable airports. The new proposal, which is anticipated to be announced as a policy soon, aims to give these small airports a thorough armed security cover “Official from the home ministry said.

The UDAN programme allowed nearly 1.15 crore Indians who had never flown before to experience air travel, according to information provided to the Parliament by Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia during the just-concluded session in December.

According to him, UDAN currently includes 11 airlines, three of which are startups, and 70 new airports have been built. In addition to these, the minister had stated that 68 new airports would be built by the end of 2024 in order to diversify the civil aviation industry.

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