MHA to expand MAC coverage across country

MHA to expand MAC coverage across country for intel sharing, analysis

The Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), a platform set up in 2001 in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict to share, collate and analyse intelligence relating to terrorism, will be extended to 825 locations from the existing 374 to share and disseminate inputs regarding anti-national activities.

This was disclosed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home in an 'action taken' report.

The MAC has already established a comprehensive system of communication and connectivity to deal with inputs and data on terrorism and for this, the national capital has been connected with 25 central agencies and all state capitals.

In the state capitals, the network links the Subsidiary MAC (SMAC) at state-level housed in the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), state police Special Branch and other offices of all counter-terror agencies.

As of now, the MHA told the panel headed by senior Congress MP Anand Sharma that a total of 374 locations were added in two phases.

"In phase III, the network is being extended to 475 districts selected in consultation with state police chiefs. Out of 475 identified locations, 451 locations have been found feasible for providing connectivity, out of which 174 districts have already been connected. When completed, the network will cover 825 locations around the country," the MHA said.

The MAC works on a dedicated, secure electronic network for real-time sharing of inputs and it has been extended across the country, with two custom-built software platforms --  an intelligence-sharing tool called Threat Management system (TMS) and a database tool called National Memory Bank (NMB).

The TMS was developed in-house by technical staff from the Intelligence BureauIB, while the NMB software was developed by C-DAC, Pune on specifications provided by IB. The NMB software is deployed on all MAC and state police servers and a large amount of data has already been uploaded onto the database by the IB and some other agencies, including some of the states.

On average, the MHA said, every day the MAC gathers, collates, stores, shares and disseminates about "150 inputs" to concerned agencies besides issuing special alerts. The inputs are broadly divided under four heads -- Kashmir, North-East, Left Wing Extremism, and Rest of India with the Naxal-related inputs form the largest proportion of the inputs, "reflecting the spread of the problem across several states".

Earlier in its report on the Demands for Grants submitted on March 5 this year, the Parliamentary panel had said there are multiple agencies like the IB, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), paramilitary forces, Army, and state agencies involved in the collection of intelligence and "at times, due to lack of coordination, distrust amongst the intelligence agencies, timely action to prevent terrorist incidents could not be taken".

To avoid such a situation, the panel had recommended that the MHA should act as the focal point to coordinate amongst those intelligence agencies, device mechanism for collating intelligence inputs and sharing it on a real-time basis through the MAC to avoid any delay in taking necessary action on the ground level.

It had also suggested developing an effective mechanism to conduct validity checks on information obtained by the MAC from other agencies.

"As we are living in a globalized world which is interconnected and interdependent, our intelligence agencies should strive for increased coordination and cooperation not only at District, State and regional level but also at International level with friendly foreign counterparts in developing and sharing intelligence to mitigate and nullify threats," it had said.