MOVE TO PUT A STOP ON ARBITRARY REQUISITION OF VEHICLES DURING ELECTIONS AND EXPEDITE PAYMENTS TO VEHICLE OWNERS
By bappaditya paul
The Election Commission (EC) has introduced in West Bengal an online vehicle management system that will help put a stop on arbitrary requisition of vehicles for the polls.It is also likely to expedite the disbursement of payment to owners whose vehicles are hired for election duty.
According to sources in the office of the Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), the National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed the online vehicle management system and it has now been linked up with the CEO’s Portal making it accessible to officials up to the block level.
In the online system, officials in the district ~ right from the block to the collectorate level ~ are first required to place an assessment of vehicles that they need to hire for election duty.
The number of three-wheelers, cars, trucks and buses etcetera needed for the polls are to be entered in a given slot and once that is done, the figures will become visible to all election officials up to the level of the CEO. “The most crucial aspect of the system is that while even a junior level officer can place an assessment, it is only the district magistrate and the superintendent of police who have the final authority to decide on the actual requirement of vehicles and give a go ahead for the requisition. The DM/SP or anyone authorised by them can increase or curtail the vehicle requirement based on their own assessment of the actual necessity,” said the Bengal joint CEO Mr Jaydip Mukherjee. “This will significantly reduce arbitrary and excess requisition of vehicles during polls.”
Once vehicles are requisitioned on the basis of the final assessment, the registration numbers of the vehicles are required to put up on the online system with the same being visible to all officials involved in the election process both in the civil administration and police. “This negates the possibility of one vehicle being hired by multiple agencies and will save the owner/driver of a requisitioned vehicle being harassed again,” said another official.
Another important feature of the new system is that it requires a hiring official to record online the mileage and transportation duty of each of the vehicles hired. The controlling authority is needed to fill up an online log every time a vehicle is used; these inputs will automatically generate a bill when the vehicle is finally released after poll duty.
This feature will enable the election officials make an actual assessment of the fuel requirement and expeditiously arrange a substitute if a vehicle breaks down or fails to report. “The automatic bill generation facility will save vehicle owners the hassles of maintaining a log book, prepare a bill on their own and then approach the hiring officials to get the bill ratified. Since the bill is automatically generated by the official system, it can be right way submitted to claim payments,” the joint CEO said.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 18 March 2014.)