Nod for buying 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines

Elbert EdwardsApr 20, 2017

The Cabinet today cleared the Election Commission's proposal to get the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines. The EC says two PSUs - ECIL and BEL - need 30 months to produce the over 16 lakh VVPATs.

The government has repeatedly said it is considering the viability of manufacturing VVPATs as only two government companies make them. However, according to the Election Commission website, the machines "were used on experimental basis for the first time in 16 Assembly constituencies in the states of Madhya Pradesh (5) and Rajasthan (5) and the NCT of Delhi (6) in the general election to the respective Legislative Assemblies held in November 1998".

This would cost around Rs 3,173.47 crore, he said. "This controversy was manufactured in the Opposition's factory", Modi had said. It has no importance. Meanwhile, the EC has thrown an open challenge in May asking people to try to hack the EVMs.

Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, finance minister Arun Jaitley said VVPATs would bring more transparency in the voting process. "Voters have a right to know if their votes are correctly registered or not".

The Cabinet has also directed the Price Negotiation Committee to negotiate with M/s Bharat Electronics Ltd and M/s Electronics Corporation of India Ltd to rationalise the final unit price expeditiously. The BSP, the AAP and the Congress had attacked the EC on the issue of alleged tampering of EVMs. The Uttar Pradesh Election Commissioner says he can not hold municipal elections with the earlier EVMs.

The commission needs over 16 lakh paper trail machines to cover all polling stations for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

"Commission will ensure total compliance of orders of SC and its commitment to use VVPATs with every EVM at all poll stations in 2019 polls", the EC was quoted as saying by ANI.

"Hence I request you to ensure urgent release of sanction orders for timely production of VVPATs as desired by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India", added the CEC.

Congress leader and former Union Minister Manish Tiwari said that the matter was not closed with the government's decision. It's a much wider issue and for the purity of election process, it is essential.

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