New Delhi: Nearly two
years after it was set up, the search has begun for a consultant
to kickstart India's ambitious National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID),
an idea borrowed from the US to share real-time information among
intelligence agencies and law enforcers to help fight crime and
The home ministry has issued a tender for appointment of a
consultant to manage the NATGRID project and to monitor its
"We have now issued a tender for appointing a consultant to
kickstart the NATGRID project. We are looking at a registered
Indian company for appointment as consultant," an official told
The official said an expert was required to handle the massive
amount of data that the grid would process. The last date for
obtaining the tender documents -- being issued from Sep 11-- has
been extended to Oct 16 and it could be responded to by Oct 19, he
The official said an attempt had been made last year too, but it
had failed to get a consultant to manage and implement the project
that aims to integrate intelligence data into one system so that
enforcement agencies could easily track law breakers.
The failure to get a consultant meant that the project is yet to
get operationalised despite being set up in the home ministry in
December 2010. The project, which was a brainchild of former home
minister P. Chidambaram, also got a sanction of Rs.1,000 crore
($200 million) earlier this year to get the NATGRID infrastructure
The project had faced stiff opposition from several quarters and
public spirited individuals on questions of invasion of privacy.
The government however defended the project on the premise that if
such an intelligence sharing grid had existed prior to 26/11
Mumbai terror attacks, Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives like David
Coleman Headley could not have visited India repeatedly to carry
out surveys and would have been detected before the terror attack
that killed over 160 people was carried out.
Chidambaram had aggressively pushed for NATGRID, along with the
National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which too has failed to
take off due to protests over police powers to investigate from
opposition-ruled states despite a notification earlier this year
that it would begin from March 1.
The chosen NATGRID consultant, the official said, would implement
the phase two of the project involving planning, setting up
infrastructure and efficient sharing of information.
The first two phases, approved by the Cabinet Committee on
Security in June 2011, is non-controversial, as setting up
infrastructure and systems have existing legal backing.
The CCS' final approval for the last two phases of the project
that apparently require legislative approvals through amendments
to existing laws is yet to come. But the whole project has
in-principle nod of the UPA government.
At the time of the CCS nod for the first two phases of NATGRID,
the home ministry had made a detailed briefing and presentation to
the members. The NATGRID idea was borrowed by Chidambaram from the
US following a visit in 2009.
The government had in December 2009 appointed Raghu Raman, a
former military officer, as the chief executive officer (CEO) for
the project. He was working as the CEO of Mahindra Defence Land
NATGRID will integrate 21 categories of intelligence data from
banks, railway, airlines, income tax department, credit card
companies and others and make it available to designated law
enforcement officers to enable tracking of criminals.
(N.C. Bipindra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)