Mumbai: International airport to get full-body scanners

Mumbai: This year, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) is all set to get new full body scanners, in addition to the existing ones, to enable the detection of cases of passengers smuggling gold and other valuable items into the country. This move was deemed necessary after a number of gold and drug seizures were made in 2019 using hand-held machines, which are difficult to use. However, the full-body scanners, to be set up at certain gates, will enable airport authorities to detect non-metallic, plastic explosives as well as chemical, biological and radiation tools of terrorism which would otherwise go undetected, without physical contact.

In a bid to reduce the lines at the CSMIA, which is one of the busiest airports in the world, authorities have made some upgrades to their existing machines and will shortly procure additional full-body scanners. New trolley management systems and advanced tray retrieval systems too will be in place, to ease operations. An official said, after a major spurt was recorded in the number of gold smuggling cases at the CSMIA, it was deemed necessary to get more of these scanners, instead of the hand-held units.

The continuous vigilance and placement of officials for passenger-profiling has led to not only to more seizures of the yellow metal, but also of contraband drugs at the international airport. “The full body scanners will quickly scan the passenger, eliminating the need for personal checking. Usually, it takes at least three minutes for an airport personnel to frisk a passenger. With these machines, the time taken for such checking could be cut down drastically,” said a senior airport official, requesting anonymity.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will also conduct a trial run at the CSMIA to ensure it is in compliance with the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) guidelines. The scanner is based on millimetre wave and non-ionising electromagnetic radiation technology.

“It is observed that the walk-through metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors cannot detect non-metallic explosives. Moreover, these body scanners will save time, as passengers will simply walk through the scanner after removing thick clothing, belts, jackets and shoes, which will be scanned by the current x-ray machines,” a senior CISF official said.

The CSMIA will also get a new trolley management system, to ensure that enough trolleys are available at each bay, irrespective of the demand.

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