The Centre-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) is yet to procure and install a single body scanner for its 100-plus airports across the country, government officials said. Aviation security regulator BCAS had in April 2019 directed 84 hypersensitive and sensitive airports across the country to install body scanners by March 2020, replacing existing door frame metal detectors, hand-held scanners and pat-down searches of passengers to detect metallic objects.
“Walk-through metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors cannot detect non-metallic weapons and explosives. Body scanners detect both metallic and non-metallic items concealed on the body,” the circular of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) had said.
Following the BCAS circular, the AAI had in 2020 issued a tender to procure 198 body scanners for 63 airports, officials said.
Three companies had put in their bids but the tender was later cancelled, they stated. When asked for the reason for cancellation, the AAI spokesperson said it was done due to “administrative reasons”. The spokesperson did not elaborate on these administrative reasons. The spokesperson stated that a fresh tender to procure body scanners is in the “planning stage” right now.
Airports, where these body scanners will be installed, will be decided “after completion of the (new) tender process”, the spokesperson mentioned. According to its website, the AAI manages a total of 137 airports which include 24 International airports (3 civil enclaves), 10 custom airports (4 civil enclaves) and 103 domestic airports (23 civil enclaves). The BCAS circular had in April 2019 classified 28 airports — including the ones in conflict areas such as Jammu and Kashmir and in the north-east — as hypersensitive and 56 airports as sensitive.
These 28 hypersensitive and 56 sensitive airports will have to install body scanners by March 2020 while the remaining airports can install it by March 2021, the circular had said.
Passengers have to remove their jackets, thick clothing, shoes, belts as well as all metallic items before entering into the body scanner of an airport. A mannequin-like image is generated by the machine, and if there is a yellow spot on the screen, it means that area on the body may need further screening. Once the body scanners are installed at an airport, pat-down searches will not be required for all passengers.