Bengal poll panel seeks EVM battery packs from EC after ECIL short-supply

EVM
File photo of an electronic voting machine or EVM.

By bappaditya paul

WEST BENGAL STATE ELECTION COMMISSION (SEC) has sought 4,000 EVM battery packs from the Election Commission of India (ECI) on loan for use in the coming civic polls.

The move comes after the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) failed to supply the required number of battery packs that had been requisitioned by the state poll panel.  Hyderabad-based ECIL is the only Central PSU entrusted to supply electronic voting machines (EVMs) and battery packs to West Bengal.

According to SEC sources, they had sent requisition to ECIL for the supply of 28,000 battery packs that are to be used in EVMs during the Kolkata Municipal Corporation polls on 18 April and the elections in another 91 civic bodies in the state on 25 April. But the ECIL has so far supplied only 20,000 battery packs.

“ECIL told us that the battery packs that we use in EVMs are imported from a manufacturing unit in Indonesia and that there was a shortage in supply from that end. They said they were trying level best to import and send us another 8,000 battery packs before the first poll date,” said a senior official in the Bengal poll panel.

ECIL logo.
ECIL logo.

But not wanting to take a chance as the civic polls are round the corner, the SEC has approached the ECI seeking a few thousands EVM battery packs on loan.

“We have written to the ECI on 24 March, requesting it to loan us 4,000 battery packs at the earliest possible. We are looking forward to a positive reply soon,” said the Bengal state election commissioner Mr Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya.

Mr Upadhaya said that while the total number of EVMs earmarked for the two-phase civic polls is 24,000, they have requisitioned for 28,000 battery packs because there is a need to set aside a substantial number on reserve and to train polling personnel on the use of EVMs.

The number of polling booths in the election-bound civic bodies in Bengal is 13,460 and going by the average calculation, a polling booth requires 1.25 EVMs. The actual requirement will however go up to two EVMs per booth wherever the number of contestants is more than 15.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 4 April 2015.)

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