Taxi breaches high security airport ops area
TNN, Oct 8, 2010, 05.35am IST
MUMBAI: Airport officials were left red in the face after a major breach on Thursday morning when a fleet taxi driver drove her vehicle into the operations area under the noses of ‘vigilant’ security officers, without being stopped. The driver, a 20-year-old woman, was intercepted by an MIAL jeep when officials woke up to the fact that an unauthorized vehicle was very close to the aircraft parking (apron) area near the domestic terminal.
The breach occurred around 10.30 am at the airport’s Gate 5-used by Air India vehicles and flight kitchen vans for both domestic and international flights. The driver, Manisha Pawar, was handed over to the CISF and later to the local police. Access gates to the operations area are heavily guarded, and vehicles are manually checked by security personnel.
The driver was able to slip past the guards who were unable to spot the taxi as their view was blocked by a huge catering truck they were checking. The Priyadarshini fleet taxi simply trailed behind the truck-unnoticed and unchecked. She headed towards the service road, and was seconds away from the apron area when she was intercepted. According to investigators, Pawar, who is new to the job, did not know her way around the airport. “She was waiting at the international terminal in Andheri when she informed that the passenger had to be picked up from the domestic terminal. When she asked for directions, she was guided to Gate 5. Pawar did not realize that she was entering the operations area and that vehicles needed to be checked,” said an airport official.
The breach, however unintentional, has raised security concerns, and CISF is investigating the four personnel who were on duty. “Their fate will be based on the results of the investigation,” said Jitender Negi, senior commandant, CISF. While CISF officials say Pawar made it only 300 m inside the secure zone, MIAL said she reached the apron area, which is a considerable distance from Gate 5. “That an unchecked vehicle could almost reach this area is cause for concern,” said a security expert. The police are likely to register a case of trespassing against Pawar.
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