Upset over long queues at airports, parliamentary panel calls for biometric screening methods

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The parliamentary group in its report suggested introducing a biometric facility and retinal scanners.

New Delhi:

After a two-year restriction due to the COVID pandemic, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) recently allowed 100% passenger capacity at domestic and international airports.

But several airports across the country have reported long queues during peak hours of flight operations.

The Standing Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture presented its reports to parliament during the budget session which has just ended and recommended non-intrusive screening inside airports.

“The Committee, in its deliberations with the Ministry, has often pointed out that at a few of the airports there are long queues of passengers during peak hours. In view of government directives to avoid public gatherings in the context of the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, other measures could be taken to address the problem. The Panel also notes that the Department is proposing to increase the number of flights. The Panel observes that in most airports across the country, Door Frame Metal Detectors (DFMD), Handheld Metal Detectors (HHMD) and physical search are conducted on a random basis,” the parliamentary panel report said.

The Committee is of the opinion that the current system of DFMD or HHMD, in addition to being an obsolete technology, infringes the privacy of passengers.

“Against this background, the Committee recommends that in addition to measures taken to alleviate queues, the Ministry may also expedite its proposal to install full body scanners at airports, which would improve passenger search technology. and would lead to faster clearing of queues. In addition, the number of search counters can also be increased at airports and properly trained staff should be assigned to these counters efficiently,” the report states.

Considering the growing crowds at airports across the country, the parliamentary panel in its report suggested introducing biometric facility and retinal scanners for passenger identification to avoid crowding.

“The ministry should explore the feasibility of biometric screening of passengers at airports, using tools such as facial recognition, fingerprints and retinal scans which are currently used at many airports around the world. The committee wants the ministry is considering the feasibility of retinal scans for search passengers, as retinal scan data of most domestic passengers are available in the Aadhaar database,” the report said.

“Biometric security is non-intrusive and faster than conventional screening, leading to faster screening of passengers and fewer crowds at airports and is therefore being introduced at many airports overseas. The Committee therefore recommends that global best practices in biometrics scanning and screening of passengers should be introduced in the country,” he added.

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday expressed confidence in India’s aviation industry returning to pre-pandemic normal levels.

India’s aviation industry touched over four million domestic passengers in one day on Monday.

Calling the development “historic”, Mr Scindia, while speaking to ANI, said: “It has been a very difficult time over the past few years due to the covid pandemic. We have seen more than 3 .7, 3.8 and 3.9 lakh passengers in one day over the last 10 days. I am confident that travel – both domestic and international, in India is coming back strong.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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