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May 22, 2002 | 1155 IST
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Contingency plan for civil aviation sector

Gaurav Raghuvanshi & Mamata Singh

The civil aviation ministry is preparing a contingency plan to protect passenger aircraft and airport installations in case war breaks out between India and Pakistan.

As per the plan, passenger flights to border areas would be suspended and aircraft would be moved to safer places if hostilities broke out between the two neighbours, a government official told Business Standard.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security held a meeting on Tuesday with officials of the home and defence ministries to take stock of the situation and work out modalities of the plan. Civilian flights to places located close to the Pakistan border would be suspended if war broke out, the official said.

The state-owned carriers, Air-India and Indian Airlines, park their aircraft at Mumbai and New Delhi, respectively, at night. As both these metros were considered vulnerable to missile attacks, the aircraft would be moved to safer places like Kolkata and Chennai, he said.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has already placed civil airports on heightened alert and will decide on Thursday if there is a need to upgrade it to red alert. The status implies more stringent security checks at airports and the areas in their neighbourhood.

"We are working closely with defence authorities. The situation is being monitored and appropriate action will be taken to protect aircraft and airports," the official said.

Meanwhile, a senior military official said the armed forces had been placed on high alert and restrictions had been imposed on leave.

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