Home Ministry seeks to take BCAS control


NEW DELHI: The aviation and home ministries are at loggerheads over control of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the aviation security regulator that has reported to the aviation ministry since inception.

The home ministry (MHA) has written a letter to the aviation ministry, asking it to hand over control of BCAS because implementation of security at airports is the responsibility of the Central Industry Security Force (CISF), which reports to the home ministry.

Officials told ET the home ministry has support of national security adviser Ajit Doval, who wants the MHA to be in complete charge of security.

However, the aviation ministry has refused to give up BCAS control, three ministry officials said on condition of anonymity. “We have resisted any such move and replied to their letter, saying there are plans to make our own force — Aviation Security Force — for airports, which will report to the aviation ministry,” said a senior ministry official, according to whom the MHA has yet to respond to this.

BCAS is responsible for laying down standards and measures in respect of security of all commercial flights. It was set up as a cell in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in 1978 after hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight in September 1976. The security wing was reorganised into an independent department in 1987 under the civil aviation ministry after the Kanishka tragedy in June 1985.

“There are discussions happening in the government on moving BCAS to the home ministry,” a senior aviation ministry official said. “You need to understand that there are a lot of things we keep discussing in the government.”

Differences between the two ministries have impacted reforms in the aviation sector. BCAS had last month announced a move to abolish cabin baggage tags, but the CISF, under the home ministry, blocked it.

According to the BCAS, the CISF had agreed on doing away with the cabin baggage tag. However, the force, which is in charge of security at all airports, did not implement the February 23 order that announced removal of cabin baggage tags at the Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kochi airports.

The issuance of security clearances for airlines and airports, which comes from the home ministry, has also taken a hit due to differences between the two ministries.

Upset over the delay, the aviation secretary wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office to expedite issuance of such clearances.