NEW DELHI: The Aarogya Setu mystery has unravelled. Earlier, there was confusion galore over who had created the contact tracing application.
It largely stemmed from government departments’ ‘evasive answers’ to a query from the Central Information Commission.
"Denial of information by authorities cannot be accepted," the apex RTI body finally said in its notice to the authorities, calling it "extremely preposterous". The notice questioned why the government should not face action for "prima facie obstruction of information" and giving an "evasive reply".
Interestingly, Aarogya Setu's website says it was developed by the National Informatics Centre but the NIC stated, in response to the RTI query, that it "does not hold the information" relating to the App's creation. Other government departments, too, were not forthcoming with details.
The complainant, an activist, had told the commission that various ministries had failed to provide details like how the app was proposed and approved; the companies, individuals and government departments involved in the process; and copies of the emails exchanged with private persons who helped develop the app.
The activist’s query did the rounds of various departments for a month. With a cagey NIC playing cards close to its chest, the IT ministry transferred the query to the National e-Governance Division which, in turn, said with a degree of finality: "The information sought is not related to (our division)."
As reports surfaced in the media about the government’s reticence, a clarification of sorts was finally put out. Abhishek Singh, CEO of MyGov and Digital India Corporation clarified, "There is no confusion about who created the Aarogya Setu application. The National Informatics Centre and Information Technology Ministry have made it in private partnership. Our country's best minds have made the application."
Further, the Aarogya Setu app was developed in a record time of around 21 days, to respond to the exigencies of the pandemic with the objective of building a Made in India Contact Tracing App.
A detailed press release will be issued later, it was further stated.