NSG can requisition aircraft during crisis

January 24th, 2009 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) Learning from the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks, the government has authorised the National Security Guard (NSG), India’s main anti-terrorism crackforce, to requisition aircraft from any operator during a crisis.The announcement came a day after the home ministry notification making it mandatory for any airline operator including private operators in India to hand over aircraft to the government to meet emergency situations.

“In the context of recent incidents in Mumbai, the power to commandeer an aircraft for quick movement of the troops/contingents came to the focus. Presently, while NSG can commandeer an aircraft for a counter hijack operation, there is no provision for requisitioning an aircraft from a commercial operator for an anti-terrorist operation for troops movement,” the ministry explained in a release Saturday.

After the terrorist strikes in Mumbai on the night Nov 26, the NSG commandos from Delhi could reach the key targets only seven hours later. The delay could have been avoided, if senior officials were empowered to requisition aircraft from any operator.

“Till now there was no such provision for anti-terrorist operations,” the ministry said.

With the new rules in place, NSG will be able to get an aircraft at short notice to move its commandos for critical operations anywhere in the country.

The NSG can now ask airlines, including private ones, to place one or more aircraft at its disposal to meet emergency situations.

The civil aviation ministry Friday issued a notification in this regard to the airlines.

“The aircraft operator will be required to provide the aircraft with crew, maintenance personnel and all materials that would be necessary for operating an aircraft for public service,” it said.

“As per the notification, the government would pay the expenses incurred in the aircraft operation to the operator in accordance with the Aircraft Act 1934,” it added.

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