New Delhi: The NATGRID - a robust intelligence gathering mechanism related to immigration, banking, individual tax payers, air and train travels - is likely to be operational by January 2020, officials said on Sunday.
The work on the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) set up to track any terror suspect and prevent terrorist attacks with real time data, has been accelerated after Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently reviewed the progress of the Rs 3,400 crore project, conceptualised following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
"In all probability, the NATGRID will start functioning from early next year," a Home Ministry official told PTI.
The NATGRID will have data related to all immigration entry and exit, banking and financial transactions, credit card purchases, telecom, individual tax payers, air flyers, train travellers besides others to generate intelligence inputs.
In the first phase, 10 users agencies and 21 service providers will be connected with the NATGRID while in the later stages 950 organisations and in subsequent years another 1,000 organisations will be connected with it.
The 10 agencies which will be able to access the NATGRID data on real time basis are: Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), 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).
Initially, no state agencies will be given direct access to the NATGRID data.
However, whenever any relevant information is required, they can approach the NATGRID through any of the 10 user agencies, the official said.
While the NATGRID has finalised the process for getting the data on about eight crore tax payers from the Income Tax Department, talks are on with the Civil Aviation Ministry, Director General of Civil Aviation and airlines to get information about domestic passengers.
"The NATGRID can also have readily available data on banking transactions and immigration as both sectors are equipped with real time mechanism," another official said.
The necessity for the NATGRID came after India's worst terror attack in its commercial capital in 2009 exposed the deficiency that security agencies have no mechanism to look for vital information on real time.
Lack of real time information was considered to be one of the major hurdles in detecting US terror suspect David Headley's movement across the country during his multiple visits between 2006 and 2009.
Headley had provided key information and videos of terror targets to Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the attacks that claimed 166 lives.
The Cabinet Committee on Security had given approval to the Rs 3,400 crore project on April 8, 2010 but its work slowed down after 2012. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed its revival.
Modi had held a review meeting on the NATGRID on June 10, 2016 when the then Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi gave a detailed presentation on the ambitious project.
"After Amit Shah took charge of the Home Ministry, he stressed the need for operationalisation of the NATGRID as early as possible," the official said.
The data recovery centre of the NATGRID has been constructed in Bengaluru and its headquarters is nearing completion in Delhi.