Police personnel who are doing the work now will be withdrawn in phases

The stage is set for the proposed take over of the immigration wing at the Tiruchi international airport by the Bureau of Immigration (BoI) coming under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Although a final date for the “official” take over by the BoI is yet to be finalised, the transition may happen in May first week or latest by the middle of next month.

Tamil Nadu State police personnel drawn from various police stations and units on “on deputation”, headed by an officer of the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, are attached to the Security Branch CID wing and take care of immigration matters.

Consequent to the changeover, the immigration wing would come under the complete administrative and operational control of the BoI and the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer stationed in Chennai.

Ahead of the proposed switchover, a group of first batch of field-level personnel of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) are undergoing training in Chennai on various aspects including counter clearance. The training is being organised prior to their posting in the immigration wings at the Tiruchi and Coimbatore international airports.

While one batch would be posted in Tiruchi airport, another group would be deputed to the immigration unit at Coimbatore airport which was expected to come under the complete control of the BoI on May 1, said the sources.

Sources said some State police personnel already serving in the immigration unit at Tiruchi airport would be retained initially as it might not be immediately possible for the IB to depute its men as per the sanctioned strength of the immigration unit owing to manpower shortage.

About 10 to 15 IB personnel are expected to be deputed to the Tiruchi immigration unit upon completion of training and the State police personnel would be withdrawn in a phased manner, said senior officers. The sanctioned strength for the Tiruchi immigration unit was 115, including clerical and technical staff.

A senior IB officer and a National Informatics Centre officer inspected the Tiruchi airport sometime ago to study the logistics and other requirements in view of the changeover. This was followed by a recent “on-the-spot inspection” by two top officers of the Bureau of Immigration and the State Police.

Willingness from the existing State police personnel to serve in the immigration unit had been ascertained, say the sources and added that the bureau would provide additional infrastructure consequent to the take over. In Tamil Nadu, Chennai airport alone is under the complete control of the BoI at present.

Guarded by the Central Industrial Security Force, the Tiruchi airport was declared an international airport through a notification issued by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation in November last year. It has been classified under the “sensitive” category.

The airport has witnessed a steady increase in passenger traffic over the years with 118 international flights arriving and leaving Tiruchi every week to overseas destinations such as Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, and Singapore.

Sri Lankan Airlines, Air India Express, Air Asia, and Tiger Airways operate from Tiruchi daily, while Mihin Lanka operates flights four days a week.

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