Poll body gets funds for paper trail machines
The Election Commission's plan to go for paper trail machines in the next Lok Sabha polls to add an additional layer of transparency in voting is set to materialise as the government on Wednesday cleared Rs 3,174 crore for the purpose.
A total of 16,15,000 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines would be purchased to cover all polling stations.
Several parties have been pressing for the use of these machines to dispel doubts that the EVMs are not tampered with.
Sixteen parties had recently petitioned the EC to revert to paper ballot system for greater transparency. The BSP, the AAP and the Congress had attacked the EC on the issue of alleged tampering of EVMs.
The paper trail machines leave a paper trail which helps an elector confirm whether the EVM has faithfully registered the vote has cast to a particular candidate.
The funds would be given to the Commission in two instalments -- the first of Rs 1,600 crore in this fiscal and the rest in the next fiscal.
The clearance was given by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a brief discussion. The decision was taken in the absence of Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad though the issue relates to his ministry.
In a statement, the poll watchdog said it will "closely monitor" the production of VVPATs for timely delivery well before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"With this, the Commission will ensure the total compliance of the orders of the Supreme Court (on the use of VVPATs) and its commitment to using VVPATs with every EVM at all polling stations in the country in General Elections 2019," it said.
Between September 2013 and March this year, the Commission has written 38 times to the government on the procurement of VVPATs, according to an affidavit filed by the poll panel in the Supreme Court on the issue.