Pankaj Kumar | June 17, 2014
Not long ago, the central industrial security force (CISF) was considered a redundant force. Circa 2014, CISF is a zero-budget force with a versatile and challenging role, securing India’s key airports, PSUs, mines, ports, and other key assets. In an interview with Pankaj Kumar, OP Singh, a 1983-batch IPS who was recently appointed additional director general, CISF airport sector, discusses how the force handles security to make air travel safer. Edited excerpts:
CISF is responsible for security at 59 airports. But shouldn’t all airports be under its purview to put a uniform airport security system in place?
We guard airports with substantial commercial activity. We guard 59 such airports; the others are being looked after by airport operators and state agencies. Small airports or airstrips, which are not able to generate substantial revenue, will have to bear a heavy cost if CISF provides them security. Such airports normally do not have any commercial flight movement.
Airport security is part of overall national security. Shouldn’t the government bear expenses for CISF wherever the airport authority of India cannot – the way it is done for Delhi Metro?
CISF has a memorandum of understanding with the management (of the organisation getting security) and in lieu of that the management (concerned) bears expenses – be it PSUs, ports or mines.
This is not like other organisations where the government bears expenses for its forces. We give consultancy as well, and we are paid for that.
Our salaries and all upkeeps are borne by the management and we provide security as per the national security training programme in consonance with the management policy.
CISF is said to be a zero-budget force – it earns for itself and is doing a versatile job. How have you been able to reach this stage when at one point – before the hijack of IC-814 (in 1998) – many thought it was a redundant force?
I don’t agree that CISF was a redundant force before the hijacking of IC-814. CISF protects more than 310 units and its competency and professionalism is applauded (at all these units).
Earlier, it protected public sector undertakings in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, so there was always the need for a professional and competent force. CISF’s record in Naxal-affected areas is also commendable.
How do you train your force manning airports?
Our charter is anti-hijacking and anti-sabotage, and CISF personnel are trained especially to counter this. Our training module contains access control, bomb disposal and quick reaction teams to counter all forms of threat. But at the same time we provide soft skills training to our forces as we want commuters to enjoy air travel without compromising on security. The idea is to make air travel safe, secure and hassle-free.
How do you keep abreast of technology?
Introduction of technology is much higher in the West, where airports have even body scanners and shoe scanners. We are in the process of inducting such machines. We use manual checking, that is track-down system, which is the best way to detect any unwanted or prohibited item.
As the new additional director general what are your plans to enrich the sector?
Our interface with the public is maximum as our staff interacts on an average with 1.5 lakh people every day. Our behaviour, attitude and level of compassion for the passengers matter a lot to enhance professionalism in the organisation. So forces are trained to counter threats but soft skill training develops their personality and makes them a better human being.
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