Biometric security check may soon be reality at airports

NEW DELHI, Dec 23:  Fliers may soon be able to use biometric details for security checks at airports as the government works on putting in place such systems after receiving ‘good feedback’ for a pilot project.
Giving strong indications, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that having biometric systems for passengers at airports appear to be a good idea.
The innovative idea, close on the heels of authorities doing away with tagging requirement of hand baggages at select airports, comes at a time when efforts are being made to ensure that aviation security procedures are more efficient and less intrusive.
“Biometric access was experimented at Hyderabad (airport). The feedback was good… Biometric system is appearing to be a good system security-wise,” Raju said in an interview.
Without much fanfare, authorities have carried out a short duration pilot project using biometric system at Hyderabad international airport recently. The exact details on how it is used could not be immediately ascertained.
When asked whether the project for biometric systems would be rolled out at various airports, Raju said a framework has been put up for the authorities concerned.
“Modernisation is a continuous process and they will keep at it. I am not at BCAS or DGCA… We have to give them the policy frame (work). That is what we have done and we are working,” the Minister said.
Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is responsible for security of the sector while Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the sectoral regulator.
Asserting that “safety and security” of the aviation sector can never be compromised, the Minister said efforts on the cyber security front is a continuous process and keeps evolving.
“(With regard to) cyber security, what was acceptable a decade ago is not acceptable a decade later,” he noted.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) has awarded a contract worth over Rs 110 crore to public sector undertaking BECIL for providing biometric access control system at 43 aerodromes.
This contract basically pertains to access for employees through biometric systems.
As part of efforts to ensure hassle-free movement of air passengers, the trial run of non-stamping of baggage tag has started at various airports, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata.
On the initiative, Raju said it would be gradually extended to other airports.
“We took time to convince our people…, world over, it is happening. On an experimental basis, they have started it in the country. There is no earthly reason why it should fail. That is why I think it will slowly go to all other airports,” he said.
Striking a cautious note, the Minister said BCAS should also be comfortable in implementing the initiative.
“Our security guys, the BCAS should be comfortable giving it. Like, if we keep overruling them, it does not make sense. So we need to take them along,” he noted.


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