New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport is likely to be the first of the country’s airports that will be outfitted with technologically advanced body scanners starting March, a whole year after they were first meant to be installed, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) officials said.
“Recommendations on the project to implement body scanners at the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) have been made by the special committee constituted for the purpose and approvals are awaited from BCAS,” a DIAL spokesperson said, adding that they will take up the project as soon as they receive the approval. As per the Centre’s directions, all Indian airports were to be installed with body scanners that offer enhanced security and a touchless experience by March 2020, but the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent closure of airports led to a delay in procuring the scanners, officials said. “Though our idea of procuring body scanners was approved by the government, it could not be taken ahead last year due to excessive financial constraints caused due to Covid-19 pandemic,” senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) officer, who did not wish to be named, said.
“Specifications of the body scanners have been finalized. We are now planning to have a combination of both the systems: body scanners and door frame metal detectors (DFMDs) and then slowly switch to only body scanners once the air services resume normalcy,” said a top Ministry of Civil Aviation official who did not wish to be named. Currently, DFMDs and hand-held metal detectors only detect metal objects. However, body scanners provide better security as they can scan plastic-based explosives as well as metallic items. Passengers would be required to remove their shoes, belts, jackets and all metallic objects according to an SOP released by the BCAS in 2019.
The aviation ministry had made it mandatory for all 28 hypersensitive and 56 sensitive airports to install body scanners by March 2020 while the remaining airports were permitted to install them by March 2021. Of around 105 operational airports in the country, hypersensitive airports include those in Delhi, Mumbai, Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. Following the delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a committee of officials from the BCAS, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and airport operators was formed in October 2020 to identify the space for installation of full body scanners and to decide on the number of body scanners