The government has withdrawn its week-old decision to halt the practice of stamping hand baggage tags at major airports after security agencies raised concerns.
The civil aviation ministry on 23 February said passengers will no longer have to get their hand baggage stamped at the Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi and Ahmedabad airports.
But a spokesperson for the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) said on Thursday that “modifications” were needed in airports’ security set-ups before any relaxation could be introduced in baggage checks.
“It was decided that committees comprising Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), Central Industrial Security Force and airport operators would examine the security architecture and CCTV systems of these seven airports notified by BCAS and assess their suitability for doing away with the baggage tags as suggested by CISF earlier,” CISF spokesperson Manjit Singh said.
CISF has recommended certain modifications at airports, including high-definition CCTV cameras focused on baggage and the installation of acrylic sheets at baggage screening areas so that passengers cannot take away unstamped bags.
“These modifications were required to make sure that passengers could not access bags containing restricted items which are segregated by CISF personnel for checking,” a CISF statement said.
The decision was taken after a joint meeting on Thursday that included Kiren Rijiju, minister of state for home affairs, Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation, R.N.Choubey, secretary, civil aviation, and O.P. Singh, director general of CISF.
A committee comprising BCAS, CISF and airport operators will examine the security architecture of these seven airports and assess their suitability for doing away with baggage tags.
A similar exercise is to be conducted simultaneously in the remaining 52 airports under CISF cover in order to recommend modifications in the security architecture and CCTV systems so that this scheme could be implemented at those airports as well.
The roll-back of the decision means a return to the old system, where passengers had to get their hand baggage stamped by security staff after the X-ray. The stamp is then checked at the boarding gate. In case of a lapse or loss of the bag tag, the passenger has to return to the security gate, which can lead to missed flights and delays.