New Delhi: The Centre appointed senior IPS officer Ashok Patnaik as the new chief of Natgrid, an intelligence gathering outfit that would collect data to monitor subversive elements.
Mr Patnaik, a 1983 batch Gujarat cadre officer, is at present posted as an additional director in the Intelligence Bureau. He is the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The BJP-led NDA government wants to revive the Natgrid, making it the nodal agency to collect all relevant data that can help track terror activities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently reviewed the progress of Natgrid with senior security and intelligence officials.
The post of Natgrid CEO had been lying vacant for several month and Mr Patnaik’s appointment is being seen as an indication of the government’s intent to expedite the functioning of the intelligence apparatus. In the first phase of Natgrid, still in the nascent stage, 10 user agencies and 21 service providers will be connected, while in later phases about 950 additional organisations will be connected and then over 1,000 organisations in subsequent years.
The data will include records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and financial transactions and telecommunications.
The agencies include the Intelligence Bureau, local police and revenue and customs departments. It was the UPA-II government which had initially mooted the proposal for NATGRID and an amount of Rs 3,400 crore was sanctioned by the Cabinet committee on security. The execution of the project, however, slowed down after the exit of home minister P. Chidambaram in July 2012. As of now there are around 70 personnel, drawn from both the government and private sectors, in NATGRID.