AAI’s plan to buy body scanners hits a roadblock admin Aug,6 2021 THE HINDU – Airports Authority of India’s plan to procure 198 body scanners for its airports across the country has hit a roadblock after it had to withdraw a tender bagged by a Chinese company, Nuctech, following the standoff at LAC last year. Nuctech is dominant in border-control and security screening technologies globally and is partly owned by the Chinese government and once run by former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s son, Hu Haifeng, according to international media reports. In April 2019, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) — the aviation security watchdog — issued a circular requiring 84 hypersensitive and sensitive airports to install full body scanners within a year to replace walk-through metal detectors. The same year, following a global tender, AAI had decided to award the tender to Chinese company Nuctech. “After a government advisory last year barring purchases from bordering countries, we have withdrawn the earlier tender. A new proposal has been sent for seeking financial approval after which a fresh global tender will be floated,” according to an official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. With Nuctech out of the picture, the government’s procurement cost per equipment is likely to double. As a result, AAI will only be able to buy half of the body scanners it had initially planned to buy. “There are only three other companies in the world that sell this technology — Smiths and L-3 from the U.S. and Rohde & Schwarz of Germany. The cost of a Nuctech body scanner was ₹1.5 crore per equipment. But now the revised estimate stands at nearly ₹3 crore per machine. So, we will invite tenders for 98 body scanners instead of the earlier figure of 198,” said a source. The full-body scanners will replace walk-through metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors which can’t detect non-metallic weapons and explosives. They were also hailed by security agencies as the scanners would lead to dispensing with pat-down searches at a time COVID-19 has forced contactless frisking at airports.