Ministries fight over bill, PM will intervene now

New Delhi: Major differences seem to have surfaced between the ministries of civil aviation, home and finance over who will bear the cost of providing security at airports, with one of them suggesting that the burden should be passed on to the passengers.

The issue may now go to the prime minister's office for taking a call as despite the matter having been discussed threadbare today at a meeting attended by top officials of the three ministries no agreement could be reached.

There was no unanimity either on who will foot the Rs 800 crore bill raised by the home ministry for providing CISF security at airports across the country.

While the civil aviation ministry argued that since security is a sovereign function, the money should come from the consolidated fund of the Government of India, the finance ministry is said to have suggested that the burden should be passed on to the air travellers.

The home ministry disagreed with the finance ministry's suggestion, contending it would lead to hike in air fare.

The meeting ended without a consensus being reached and, in all probability, the issue will now go to the PMO for a decision, a source privy to the development said.

The meeting was called to discuss a unified security architecture for the aviation sector and consolidation of security at airports under Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) cover.

Minister of State for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju, their counterpart in the finance ministry Arjun Ram Meghwal, and top officials of the three ministries attended the meeting.

Out of the 98 functional airports in the country, 59 are under CISF cover. Among them 26 airports, including those in New Delhi and Mumbai, are in the hyper-sensitive category.

Of these hyper-sensitive airports, 18 are under CISF cover, while six like Srinagar and Imphal, are being guarded by the CRPF, the state police or other paramilitary forces.

Under the sensitive category, there are 56 airports out of which only 37 have CISF cover.