Intelligence program NATGRID will be operational by December 31, 2020, Minister of State for Home Affairs, G. Kishan Reddy informed the Parliament in response to a question. The physical infrastructure is planned to be completed by March 31, 2020. NATGRID has already developed an application software for proof of technology which is yet to be fully rolled out. In September this year, Shah had held a meeting to discuss NATGRID’s revival and said he wants it to be operational by end of 2020.
NATGRID has been allocated Rs 84.80 crore for FY2020.
Workforce: 53 governments officers have been appointed against a sanctioned strength of 119 posts. 21 consultants have been deployed against 123 contractual posts.
Central agencies will have access to NATGRID data in the first phase. It’s unclear what exactly the first phase is currently. But according to an answer in Parliament given in July 2014 by the then Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, the plan was to connect 10 user agencies (listed below) to NATGRID by giving them access in the first phase, called the Horizon 1 phase.
What is NATGRID? NATGRID is the national intelligence grid which would link multiple public and private databases together, and make this data available to intelligence agencies. Its mandate is to “automate the existing manual processes for collation of intelligence information by connecting over 21 data sources like telecommunication, Banking, Airlines, etc.” It was created to link databases to “collect[ing] actionable intelligence to combat terrorism and internal security threats”.
Has NATGRID been recently reviewed? The Home Ministry, in the response, acknowledged that it has recently reviewed the progress of NATGRID — a possible reference to Shah’s September meeting —, and when asked for details, simply said that NATGRID’s progress is reviewed from time to time at the appropriate level in the central government.
Who can use NATGRID? There will be 10 user agencies of NATGRID:
- Intelligence Bureau (IB),
- Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW),
- Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI),
- Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI),
- Enforcement Directorate (ED),
- Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU),
- Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT),
- Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC),
- Directorate General of Central Excise and Intelligence (DGCEI) and
- Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
(No state is a user agency for NATGRID.)
NATGRID is exempt from RTI: Intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, which the central government can amend by gazette notification, are exempted from providing information under RTI requests, under Section 24 of the RTI Act, 2005. In 2011, the central government added three organisations to the Second Schedule via a gazette notification — NATGRID, National Investigation Agency (NIA), and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).