Govt threatens to withdraw Delhi airport security over disputed payment

Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport may be left without security cover if a long-running payment dispute between the airport’s operator and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is not resolved soon, say reports.

In the first week of July, the Union Home Secretary wrote to the Ministry of Civil Aviation saying the Home Ministry would have no option but to withdraw security to the airport if payment isn’t expedited. HT has reviewed a copy of the letter which adds that this will start with the withdrawal of security to the cargo terminal.

According to the officials, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) airport owes over Rs 600 crore to CISF. The amount has added up, owing to a dispute over how much the paramilitary force has to be paid, and the dispute has never been resolved . CISF has repeatedly claimed that DIAL is only making partial payments to it rather than the full amount. Over the past four years, for instance, DIAL paid at least Rs 100 crore less every year for its annual security bill, CISF claims.

Representatives of the airport blamed rising costs. “DIAL collects PSF (passenger security fee) from passengers as per a tariff decided 10 years back and the entire collection passes through an escrow account subject to CAG Audit. DIAL is meeting security-related expenses out of this escrow account… Due to increase in costs over the collection over a period of time, there is a deficit in PSF(SC) account,” said a spokesperson for the operator, adding that the company is in talks with CISF and the civil aviation ministry over the issue.
The GMR Group-led Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) is a company owned by GMR Group, Airports Authority of India and Fraport.

CISF, one of seven security forces under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), guards critical installations and facilities across the country including all airports and atomic power plants. The costs for its services are paid into a consolidated fund managed by the MHA, which pays CISF’s salaries. In the case of airports, the cost of security is recovered from passengers.