Govt extends tenure of Natgrid chief

New Delhi: Ending weeks of speculation, the government has decided to extend the service of Chief Executive Officer of proposed National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Raghu Raman for six months beginning June 1.

A formal government notification to this effect will be issued in a day or two, official sources said.

The Natgrid — the Home Ministry`s ambitious project — after it comes into operation will facilitate robust information sharing by security agencies and law enforcement agencies to combat terror threat at home and abroad.

Sources said the proposal to implement the project is likely to get approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) next month, hence Raman`s service tenure has been extended.

The fate of Natgrid has been hanging in balance due to the "turf war" among various stakeholders, particularly Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The MoD and MoF apparently think that if the project comes into operation, the MHA would have uninterrupted access to all information under their jurisdiction.

Due to the uncertainty, 40 per cent staff of the total over 100 people working with the project have left it. There was also speculation that Raman, who draws a salary of Rs 10 lakh per month, may not get the service extension since no decision has been taken on the Natgrid.

"The MHA has allayed apprehensions of other stakeholders and the Natgrid proposal is likely to be cleared next month," a source said.

Initially, Natgrid will have access to about 21 categories of database like railway and air travel, income tax, bank account details, credit card transactions, visa and immigration records in the country.

As per the plan, access to the combined data will be given to 11 agencies, which include various central intelligence agencies and the National Investigation Agency among others.