The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has highlighted so-called dark zones created by lack of closed-circuit television (CCTV) coverage among the issues compromising security at 34 airports in its annual audit report. Other issues highlighted include a shortage of baggage X-ray machines, bomb detectors and walkie- talkies at airports across the country.

The report said CISF’s investigation processes are often hampered as at seven airports do not have the facility to keep digital CCTV recordings for the mandatory 30-day period as per the security guidelines.

“There is a deficiency of 1,882 cameras at 34 airports and we have intimated the Airports Authority of India (AAI). There are some airports, where digital video recording system is unavailable. We would not want to reveal the names of the airports as it compromises security,” said a CISF officer, citing the report on condition of anonymity.

The report said many airports also do not have CCTV systems with enhanced features – such as an alarm in case a suspicious object is noticed.

A spokesperson for the AAI, which manages the country’s civil aviation infrastructure, said the issues such as dark zones are addressed periodically.

“The CCTV system is available at all airports. The CISF… along with (concerned) airport directors carry out periodical surveys for providing additional cameras for further upgradation of CCTVs to cover any dark zones. Dark zones may arise due to any modification works carried out in terminal areas or due to change in layouts,” the spokesperson added.

CISF, which manages security at 60 out of the 98 operational airports in the country, has also cited the need for equipment for random checking.

“Sometimes passengers are checked at entry gates based on profiling. For that, we need X-ray machines, hand-held metal detectors (HHMDs) and door-frame metal detectors (DFMDs) apart from the explosive trace detectors (ETDs). While 27 X-ray machines are required at 26 airports, at three airports, HHMDs and at eight airports DFMDs are required. ETDs are also needed at 30 airports,” said the CISF officer.

AAI said an additional 402 X-ray machines have been procured. “Airport security committee meetings are being conducted on a monthly basis, where all stakeholders and the members share security concerns and (discuss how) to implement various security measures required from time to time,” the AAI spokesperson added.

Shiv Nath, a retired UP cadre police officer, said: “CCTVs are an important aspect for security be it airport or any other installation. While installation is one aspect, it must be ensured that they are always in working condition and covering every possible area. Non functional CCTV are cause of concern for any airport.”

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