On Friday, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) released some guidelines for post lockdown air travel, asking all passengers to compulsorily download the Aarogya Setu app to be eligible to fly. This move adds flight passengers to the ever-increasing list of Indians for whom downloading the Aarogya Setu app has been made mandatory by the Union Government. As of today, the list of sectors and citizens for whom having the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones is as essential as carrying an identity proof, are as follows:
–Government employees were the first professionals for whom downloading the Aarogya Setu app was made compulsory, back in April. All government officials who were visiting their offices for work, such as Health, Defence, Police, Family Welfare, NIC, FCI etc, were strictly mandated to have the Aarogya Setu app installed and running on their smartphones.
–In early May, with the beginning of phase 3 of the lockdown, the app was made compulsory for office employees of private sector as well. Having the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones was a must for all employees of private companies, and the guidelines stated that the head of the companies would be held responsible if any of their office employees were found violating the order.
–In early May itself, the app was also made mandatory for people living in COVID19 containment zones. The motive behind this, as per the official statement on Aarogya Setu’s twitter, was to curb the spread of the disease and better classify areas into red, orange and green zones.
–A week later, the Indian Railways also released a notice, mandating the download of the Aarogya Setu app for travel via any of the 15 special trains. With the Indian Railways commencing some of its passenger services, downloading the app was essential for passengers before beginning their journey. In addition, guidelines released by the Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) stated that having the Aarogys Setu app on one’s mobile phone was essential in order to board the Delhi Metro, once services resume.
–The Aarogya Setu app is especially mandatory for employees involved in any form of product delivery. For example, Zomato has made it compulsory for all its employees to have the app installed on their smartphones in order to begin their delivery sessions.
–In certain parts of the country, heads of organisations are using strict policies to ensure that all their employees abide by the mandatory installation. In Srinagar, DDOs have been asked to obtain a certificate that they have downloaded and registered themselves on the app, in order to have their salaries released.
–Mandating registering on the app for flying is just another move to increase the app’s user base in order to obtain greater information to prevent further spread of COVID19. With airlines and aviation authorities around the world planning to resume passenger flights soon, downloading Aarogya Setu has been further pushed by equating its importance to a boarding card.
–Even sporting authorities have followed suit, by mandating players and employees to download and register on the Aarogya Setu app. In fact, very recently Hockey India made it compulsory for all players, staff and working personnel to download the app in order to be eligible for participating in any future sessions and tournaments. It is being planned to use to app to check the health of the players to take a decision on their availability to play matches in the near future.
–In addition to mandating the app for health tracking, the app is also expanding towards acting as a potential admit pass for travel in the days following the lockdown. Development of centralized e-passes is in the pipeline, with it being planned to link these passes to the Aarogya Setu app, as a source of authentication. With aviation authorities and Indian Railways already mandating the installation of the app before travel, and Delhi Metro planning to carry out the same, other stakeholders in different modes of travel are also considering the same.
With roughly 11 crore users, a large fraction of whom have to compulsorily use and update their details on the app regularly, the Government is considering using the features of Aarogya Setu to facilitate objectives other than COVID19 tracking and zone categorization. E-passes and utilisation of Aarogya Setu in travel is a step in that direction. The coming weeks would shed further light on how important Aarogya Setu is going to be for the average Indian in the era beyond COVID-19.
(Written by Shubhang Gopal, intern with indianexpress.com)
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