84 airports across the country will have to install body scanners by March 2020 as per the direction of the central government. The Centre has directed the airport authorities to replace the existing door frame metal detectors and hand-held scanners besides pat-down searches of passengers to detect metallic objects.
According to the circular sent by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), “Walk through metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors cannot detect non-metallic weapons and explosives. Body scanners detect both metallic and non-metallic items concealed on the body.”
It has also been mentioned in the circular about the standard operating procedures that 84 airports would have to follow while using body scanners.
According to reports, 28 airports are classified as hypersensitive out of 105 operational airports in the country including those in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and in conflict areas like Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast while 56 are categorized as sensitive.
The circular stated that these 28 hypersensitive and 56 sensitive airports would have to install body scanners by March 2020 while the remaining airports can install it by March 2021. It further states that scanners shall provide image-free solution using a generic mannequin and threats shall be graphically presented addressing the privacy concerns that these machines may generate images with full body contours.
In the mannequin-like image generated by the machine, a yellow spot will highlight the area on the body that may need further screening. In the screening, the passengers will have to remove their jackets, thick clothing, shoes, belts as well as all metallic items before entering into the body scanner of an airport.
These scanners are based on millimeter wave technology comprising non-ionising electromagnetic radiation which means it is safe for all passengers including pregnant women.