India’s first body scanner in airport comes up in Agartala

India’s first body scanner in airport comes up in Agartala

Agency News

Agartala, Sep 27 : Most modern facilities including India’s first human body scanner would be installed in upcoming integrated terminal building in Maharaja Bir Bikram (MBB) airport here, which is expected to be operational in April next year, said executive director of the Airport Authority of India (AAI), North-East Sanjeev Jindal after reviewing the progress of the work.

He claimed about 80 percent of the construction works of the terminal building is already completed but it would take at least another six months to finish remaining civil works and bring services and other facilities in operational stage. After completion of all and installation of services, AAI would plan for making it operational.

“The MBB airport will be the country’s first airport, which will have human body scanner for each of the passenger entering into the security enclosure. At present manual security checking is carried out for individual passenger, which is time consuming and sometimes inconvenience for the passengers,” Jindal said.

Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the body responsible for Indian Aviation security, sent out a circular in April this year directing 84 airports across the country to install body scanners at Indian airports by March 2020. Currently, walk-through metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors are used at all Indian airports.

Out of the 84 airports, 28 airports are classified as hypersensitive, including those in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai and in conflict areas like Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast. The trial was done in the last three months in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Trivandrum and Bangalore airports but first it would be operationalised in Agartala.

It’s an image-free body scanner and in the screen shows OK if the passenger doesn’t have a concealed item on him/her. If there is concealed item on the person, then it’s exact location is shown on a generic mannequin displayed on the screen, he stated. Most of the developed countries having human body scanners for travelers at different levels in the important airports, right from the entrance point of the airport - last to the exist point for aircraft. However, according to AAI no Indian airport is having the facility as of now and it would first time be operational in Agartala.

According to report, being the bordering airport of India, Agartala is prone to transportation of illegal items by air and a large number of Bangladeshi nationals have been travelling to Indian states mostly for treatment purposes through Agartala airport. In last two years, there were at least 13 big hauls of smuggling articles like gold bars and cannabis from the air travelers during security checks at the airport.

Two cases of gold smuggling were detected where smugglers infused the gold bars into the rectum. In May 2017, four Bangladeshi nationals - Abul Kalam Azad (19), Parimal Saha (27), Mohammad Ali (37) and Sajibur Rahman (46), all have been the residents of Burichang, Comilla in Bangladesh were arrested in Agartala airport while smuggling 42 gold bars weighing 4.7 kg packed in condoms concealed in their rectum, which was not detected in search in airport. They confessed to police that they had successfully crossed the airport security and custom checking Tripura couple 1.36 kg gold bangles worth of Rs 28 lakh in June 2017 and they had successfully smuggled gold eight times more than ever before. Another Shah Alam Bhuinya (47) of Brahmanbaria of Bangladesh was arrested in Agartala airport in August 2017 when travelling with as many as 40 gold biscuits weighing of about 1.20 kg to Kolkata.

There are many more such cases of smuggling through Agartala airport but conventional method of passenger frisking is appeared to be tough to detect illegal items carrying in the body during flight. However, the most modern and secure process of passenger frisking would be able to provide cent percent assurance of security.

Jindal said the new terminal building of Agartala is built to cater 1200 people at a time with all modern facilities at the cost of Rs 438 Cr. Similarly, Ministry of Civil Aviation has taken a host of initiatives to build infrastructure for expanding air connectivity in the north eastern state and Rs 3500 Cr was earmarked for the purpose.

After Agartala, AAI is in the process to build new terminal building at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati at the cost of Rs 1250 Cr, which would be completed by 2020. A new airport would be built up at Holangi in Arunachal Pradesh and a green field airport would be set up at Silchar of Assam in the next three years, Jindal asserted adding that as wish by central government AAI is also planning to start operation at Tura in Meghalaya.

Besides three new water aerodromes would be constructed at Guwahati, Kaziranga and Umrangso in Assam where an area of open water used regularly by seaplanes or amphibious aircraft for landing and taking off, he added. (UNI)