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MEITY has no information on who developed CoWIN app: RTI reply

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has “no information” of who developed the CoWIN app, or how much money was spent on making it, it said in response to an RTI query. The CoWIN app, short for “Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network, is touted be the backbone of the vaccine rollout plan of the Indian government.

The RTI was filed by an Aniket Gaurav — a law student, according to Deccan Herald — who asked the ministry for:

  • Names of people who developed the CoWIN application
  • Money spent by the government to develop it
  • Documents of inter-departmental communication regarding the development of CoWIN

However, after nearly two weeks from the date the RTI was filed, the ministry provided a single line reply: “With regard to information sought, no information is available with Innovation & IPR Division, MeitY.”

CoWIN integral to vaccine roll-out

The CoWIN app is the Indian government’s one-size-fits-all approach to all challenges that it may face in the upcoming months, as it begins the largest vaccination drive in the world. It will be used by the government to track beneficiaries for possible adverse effects. It will also help in transportation logistics.

The app will use Aadhaar to identify beneficiaries. Ram Sewak Sharma, head of the Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to combat COVID-19, has said that states and union territories would seed beneficiaries’ current mobile number with Aadhaar in an attempt to weed out “proxies”. Beneficiaries will also, through the CoWIN app system, get a QR-code certificate that will be stored on DigiLocker.

Glitches experienced across country

The vaccination roll-out officially began on January 16, targeting nearly 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers. Workers were told that they wouldn’t have to register themselves as a beneficiary, as their data would be populated automatically into the CoWIN system. However, the CoWIN app has slowed down progress at multiple locations:

  • In Maharashtra, the state government had suspended the vaccination drive for a couple of days until technical issues could be resolved. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said that registering on the CoWIN system was entirely digital, and manual registrations were allowed temporarily.
  • In Hyderabad, the vaccination drive was slowed at several centres due to similar reasons. The Times of India found that authorities were unable to get network reception to get the app working, or were suffering server connectivity issues. Beneficiaries at the city’s Government Chest Hospital were reportedly sent back without being given a shot due to server issues.
  • In Bangalore, glitches in the CoWIN app caused the municipal corporation to not even reach 50% of its target by January 20.
  • In Jharkhand, many districts were facing slow loading speeds, state health minister Banna Gupta told Economic Times earlier this week. Gupta said this was not because of network issues, but because of the increased loads on the portal.
  • In Chhattisgarh, beneficiaries has not received text messages telling them when and which vaccination centres they were supposed to turn up at, state health minister TS Singh Deo told Economic Times.

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