The indecision and policy paralysis on part of the civil aviation ministry and safety regulator has kept Juhu airport exposed to terror threat. The state police, which placed 30-odd staffers temporarily for the airport’s protection, want to pull them out now and have made their intention clear to the ministry and Juhu airport authorities.
But the ministry and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) haven’t decided on this for over a year now, said airport sources.
While the BCAS has been operating without a head for quite some time, the e-mails sent to its joint commissioner of security, BB Dash, and its regional deputy commissioner of security, BS Tiwary, remained unanswered. Ministry officials too were unavailable.
Joint commissioner of police (protection and security) Madhukar Pandey said, “We don’t approve of multiple agencies manning Juhu airport. As Mumbai airport has CISF for its protection, it’ll be prudent to have the same force at Juhu for clarity of command and coordination.”
State police sources said that though several rounds of meeting have been held between their high-ranking officials and those from ministry and BCAS, the matter remains unsolved. “The state should bring clarity on the issue or else we are just makes Juhu airport a sitting duck for terror targets,” said a senior state police officer.
Intelligence agencies for long have been claiming that Juhu airport has constantly been on terrorists’ radar. Intelligence inputs have claimed terrorists could get inside the airport and hijack a helicopter to attack Mumbai airport.