Natural potted plants banned at Indian airports, fakes to be substituted

Potted natural flower plants will no longer embellish the décor of airport terminals as the country’s aviation safety watchdog has banned such pots, which saboteurs and terrorists can target to rig bombs. The Brussels airport bombing on March 22 prompted the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security’s (BCAS) to adopt measures such as placing a fail-safe biometric entry system for staff in restricted areas and banning natural flower pots, which are brought into terminals from nurseries outside cities.

The BCAS, which frames policies for airport security, has asked operators to get rid of flowerpots inside terminals and, instead, suggested using natural plants inside guarded enclosures or make-do with ornamental, artificial ones. Airports are known for their tough security but terminal buildings have large, open and vulnerable public spaces with flowerpots and decorative items.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which guards the majority of airports in India, had flagged the BCAS in December 2015 about the potential danger from flowerpots inside the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. “The plants are nurtured and maintained at nurseries located away from the airport. This increases the chance of sabotage as thorough screening of such plants placed in pots using soil is required to be conducted every time to prevent planting of explosives. This poses a potential risk to the terminal building,” the security force said in a letter to the BCAS. The BCAS has contracted software development companies to install a biometric system in restricted areas where aircraft crew and operator staff frequently enter and exit.