The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) invited us for a meeting today. This was in response to the concerns we had raised with regard to the new Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) that the BCAS had released a few days back for screening of passengers “with special needs and medical conditions”.
A delegation consisting of Mr. Muralidharan, Secretary of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), Dr. Satendra Singh Coordinator, Enabling Unit, UCMS & GTB Hospital, Delhi and Abha Khetrapal, President, Cross the Hurdles met the Joint Commissioner of BCAS, Shri B.B. Dash this afternoon.
The delegation impressed upon the BCAS officials that while most of the provisions contained in the SoP are welcome and have incorporated the suggestions made by the sector earlier, there is still need for improvement taking into consideration the sensitivities of certain disabling conditions.
The delegation pointed out that while the SoP mandates screening of prostheses by an x-ray, even in the US the Transport Security Administration (TSA) that is responsible for security at US airports stipulates that “passengers with prostheses can be screened without removing them. The way screening will be conducted depends on the passenger’s level of ability and whether or not he or she voluntarily chooses to remove his or her prosthetic during screening.” And that “Passengers with prostheses can be screened using imaging technology, metal detector, or a thorough pat down”.
The delegation was informed that the BCAS will be experimenting with new imaging technologies shortly. We were also informed that trials on the use of non-ionizing ‘milimeter wave scanner’ were at an advanced stage. The BCAS officials while drawing attention to the security concerns faced at Indian airports said that the SoP is an evolving process and based on the feedback they get and the experience they gain, the SoP will be modified, addressing the issues thrown up in the meantime. The delegation was told that the BCAS will hold further consultations with all stakeholders shortly based on the experience of the implementation of the SoP.
The delegation reiterated that while they are not seeking any relaxation of standards in screening for persons with disabilities and putting aviation travelers at risk it is also important that passengers with disability are handled with dignity and respect and do not feel humiliated.
The BCAS officials also responded positively to the suggestion to include disabled persons in the training & sensitization programmes as well as addressing the concerns of women with disabilities.