Letters for 2 years, SOS to PM, Election Commission still awaits EVM papertrail funds
IN A letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi four months ago, the Election Commission sought urgent release of funds to procure enough Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to cover all polling stations ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The EC has sent over 10 reminders to the government on the matter, since June 2014, and the letter to Modi by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, on October 25, 2016, was an SOS of sorts. The CEC very rarely writes directly to the PM, with its communication to the government on electoral matters normally limited to Law and Home ministries.
Government suggested EC should talk with private companies to manufacture these machines lol. Anil Ambani can probably get the contract for the same.In his letter to Modi, Zaidi wrote, “I’m writing to draw your kind attention to the crisis that may occur during the next General Election to Lok Sabha in 2019, if required numbers of replacement Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and new Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) are not produced in time by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), the two defence PSUs.”
The Sunday Express has learnt that on July 20, 2016, the Union Cabinet had at a meeting considered the procurement of VVPATs, but it was decided that the EC should be asked to explore the feasibility of roping in private manufacturers as BEL and ECIL have limited capacity.
The EC later turned down the suggestion citing “sensitivity of the job”. In December 2016, the poll panel recommended two other PSUs, namely Indian Telecom Industry in Bangalore and Central Electronics limited in Ghaziabad, to enhance production capacity.