MHA seeks over Rs 3,400 crore for NATGRID

MHA seeks over Rs 3,400 crore for NATGRID

The Cabinet Committee on Security has already given an in-principle nod to the ambitious project which aims to bring together police and security agencies for a real time exchange of data across the country, sources said.

The Home Ministry has proposed that the amount will be spent over about four years in different phases to connect data providing organisations and users besides developing a legal structure through which information can be accessed by the NATGRID, they said.

In the first phase, the Ministry plans that 10 user agencies and 21 service providers will be connected in 26 months, while in later phases about 950 additional organisations will be connected in 12 months and another over 1,000 organisations in the subsequent 12 months.

The Cabinet Committee on Security has approved budgetary allocation of Rs 50 crore on April 12 last year for commencing preliminary activities for establishment of NATGRID with the direction that a Detailed Project Report will be prepared which has been done by the Home Ministry.

All the ground work notwithstanding, a number of top bureaucrats are still not clear about the concept of an umbrella database which will be gathered from different organisations, its security, possible misuse and privacy issues, the sources said.

The differences were evident in a recent high-level meeting of Committee of Secretaries where some serious issues were raised by them, sources said.

The then Revenue Secretary Sunil Mitra and Secretary Financial Services Shashi Kant Sharma had their reservations on linking the NATGRID with banks, they said.

Mitra, recently appointed as Finance Secretary, has said that NATGRID would need bank information and regular transactions, other than suspicious transactions which are collected by the FIU-IND, in order to develop the algorithms, which legally may not be enabled.

Sharma has underlined that it may not be possible to link NATGRID directly to the banks. The secretaries were also worried about warehousing and holding of data by the NATGRID, even if the organisation collected only the index data, the sources said.

They said concerns were shared by the then Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar who observed that a "robust mechanism" was necessary to deal with issues of privacy and holding of data by the NATGRID.

Officer on Special Duty, Expenditure Department, objected to issuing funds in non-plan category and insisted that "the issues regarding posts would have to be taken up on file" and "due appraisal of Detailed Project Report which has been recommended" by Home Ministry need to be done.

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