Centre sanctions armed CISF cover for Surat airport

New Delhi, Jun 15 (PTI) The Surat airport will soon be guarded by an armed contingent of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) after the Union Home Ministry recently approved the deployment of the central paramilitary at this facility in Gujarat, officials said on Monday.

Officials said the ministry has sanctioned a strength of about 360 personnel to guard the international airport operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Surat is the biggest diamond cutting and polishing hub of the country and as per officials the airport handles over 1.25 lakh passengers per month.

'We have received the sanction. The work for deployment is in progress,' CISF Special Director General and chief of airport security wing, M A Ganapathy, told PTI.

A senior officer in the home ministry said the sanction for deployment of about 360 CISF personnel for guarding the Surat airport has been approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) last week.

A security survey of the airport was completed last year.

'The formal induction of the force will take place after certain procedures of signing a memorandum of understanding between the CISF and AAI is done and handover of living space for jawans and other administrative facilities is complete,' the Home Ministry officer said.

The airport has regular commercial flights connecting major domestic destinations like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore among others and is being guarded by personnel of the Gujarat police and their reserve units at present.

After this induction, the CISF will have 64 airports under its armed cover in the country.

It last took over the Jammu airport in March.

In Gujarat, the CISF already guards airports at Bhuj, Bhavnagar, Vadodara Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Porbandar.

The 1.62-lakh personnel strong paramilitary force is designated as the national civil aviation security force and the government has earlier said that it will be gradually given the charge of more and more civil airports.

There are about 100 operational airports in the country at present.

Once inducted at the Surat airport, the CISF will provide a 24x7 armed cover to the facility and will frisk passengers at the gate, followed by comprehensive checks ahead of boarding a flight.

The troops will be armed with assault rifles like the AK series and the INSAS, and will man the airport perimeter from watch towers erected at vantage positions, a senior CISF official said.

The CISF will provide a 'comprehensive anti-terror cover to the facility' and a deputy commandant-rank officer is expected to head the unit, he said. PTI NES  DV DV