The Centre has proposed to make the Aarogya Setu app mandatory for air travel, Business Standard reported on Monday. The app is being promoted as an important tool by the Narendra Modi government in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, primarily for contact tracing.

“People whose Aarogya Setu app is not ‘green’ are not to be allowed inside the terminal building,” the Business Standard report said citing the draft. “Persons above 80 years will also be restricted in the first phase of resumption.” Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hinted that the app may be used as an e-pass for travel amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centre has time and again allayed fears of security and data breach in the app. Several people, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and ethical hacker Elliot Alderson, have raised concerns about privacy and surveillance. Last week, Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Aarogya Setu is “absolutely robust, safe and secure in terms of privacy protection and data security”.

If the app is made mandatory for air travel, India will become the second country after China to make a mobile app compulsory for travel. China uses a software on smartphones to regulate its citizens’ lives and gives them colour codes. This is used to decide whether a citizen should be quarantined or allowed into public spaces.

India is likely to resume flight operations in a phased manner from May 17, reported News18. The airlines are likely to begin operations from major routes like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. In an interview to Outlook last week, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said that the government was planning to start domestic flight operations even before May 15. “My effort will be to try and move in the direction of starting it very soon,” he had told the magazine. “I can’t put a date on it because when you are planning evacuation operations, you need the co-operation of the state governments.”

All domestic and international air travel, except for purposes permitted by the home ministry, have been suspended in India since the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on March 25.

JNU VC claims app is ‘essential’ to download

Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar has asked the students, teachers and non-teaching staff of the university to download the Aarogya Setu app, The Indian Express reported on Monday. Kumar said the app was “a one-stop solution” for spreading awareness about Covid-19 and to trace contacts.

“It is essential that all of us in JNU download and install this app,” Kumar wrote in his appeal. He referred to a letter by the University Grants Commission, dated April 10, about the app and asked everyone to download it.