GSTN portal to be shut on July 1 for disaster recovery drill

On a day when the goods and services tax regime would mark the first anniversary of its roll-out, the tax-filing portal — GST Network (GSTN) — will stay paralysed. On Sunday, the GSTN would conduct a 'disaster recovery drill' to create a backup system in Bangalore in order to cope with disasters such as a terror attack, power grid failure or an earthquake.

"We are creating a backup so that the system remains safe, functioning, and available in case of any disruption or disaster. The objective is that normal course of business should not get disrupted," Prakash Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, GSTN told Business Standard.

In a mail to taxpayers, the authorities have said it is planning a disaster recovery drill and so services will not be available for 12 hours, between 9am and 9pm, on July 1. It requested the taxpayers to plan GST-related activities on the portal accordingly.

GSTN has two service providers. The main data centre is in Delhi and supported by Tata Communications. The disaster backup is being created in Bangalore, supported by Airtel.

With this in place, the system will automatically switch from Delhi to Bangalore in case of a disaster. "We are creating an automated system, where the Bangalore unit will take over in case the Delhi system stops," said Kumar. The idea is that return filing should not stop under any circumstances, he added.

The GSTN portal will become secure and resilient to unforeseen or emergency situations through this automation.

"For instance, if there is a terror attack and that terrorists take control over the GSTN system in Delhi, the business should not stop," said Kumar. Again, if there is a complete grid failure for 48 hours or an earthquake, it will be business as usual for GSTN.

As far as data security is concerned, GSTN has maintained that the network is safe from global malware attacks as it has taken all necessary precautions. Multiple security layers have been put in place at the data centre, where the entire information is stored.   

Incorporated as a private body, GSTN is being turned into a government-owned body at a time when the data confidentiality concerns raised globally. GSTN has developed the front-end infrastructure with the help of Infosys. It provides a common platform for registration, filing of returns and e-payments. It has also integrated the common GST portal with the tax administration systems of the Centre and the states.

The number of active taxpayer base registered with GSTN has jumped to over 11.2 million from 6.3 million initially. 4.8 million are new taxpayers.

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