Government Threatens To Remove Security Cover From Delhi Airport Over Unpaid 600 Crore
Airports across the globe have some of the tightest securities and imagining one of India’s busiest airports without any security cover is next to impossible. However, for Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, this impossibility might turn into a reality if the long-running dispute between the airport owners and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is not resolved soon.
DIAL has to clear dues by September
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) owes Rs 600 crore to CISF which is the latter has been demanding to be cleared. The Hindustan Times reported that the Union home secretary, earlier in July had written to the civil aviation ministry stating that the payments aren’t made, the home ministry would have no choice but to withdraw security from the airport.
Reportedly, CISF claims that DIAL has only paid partial amounts for the last four years where they have repeatedly paid Rs 100 crores less than the amount that was to be paid for its yearly security bill. Moreover, CISF has given the airport owners time till September to expedite the payments. Upon failing to meet this deadline, CISF will put out its security personnel from the cargo terminal first and then finally the passenger terminals by December.
The DIAL is owned by one GMR Group, Airports Authority of India and Fraport. The Logical Indian had earlier reported that it is one of the six privately-run airports in India, which owes over Rs. 797 crore to CISF for the deployment of its personnel on security duties. Of the six airports, DIAL is considered to be the biggest defaulter.
Earlier, Delhi Airport was not only awarded the “Best Airport Security” by the World Quality Congress, but also ranked number one in the world on airport service quality ranking, even better than Heathrow, Dallas, Los Angeles, Dubai and Paris airports.
At present, there are 4,000 CISF security personnel at DIAL, which is about 50% more than the numbers in 2007. Moreover, there have been talks to tighten security with more workforce as well.
CISF in a tussle with DIAL
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is one of the paramilitary forces established in 1969 to provide integrated security to the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). Presently, it guards 59 civil airports in the country and charges a security fee for protecting these sensitive facilities against terror and sabotage threats. The costs for its services are paid into a consolidated fund which is managed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which pays salaries to CISF. For airports, the cost of the security is retrieved from the passengers.
Presently, every passenger who departs pays Rs 130 as a security fee and ₹70 as a facilitation charge. DIAL reportedly has also shown interest in increasing this fee as they said that it is not possible to maintain airport security with the amount that is collected as passenger security fee.
However, Hindustan Times quoted an airport representative as saying, “DIAL collects PSF (passenger security fee) from passengers as per a tariff decided ten years back, and the entire collection passes through an escrow account subject to CAG Audit. DIAL is meeting security-related expenses out of this escrow account… Due to an increase in costs over the collection over a period of time, there is a deficit in PSF(SC) account.” The company has been in talks with CISF for some time now.