16 lakh VVPATs, needed for the 2019 general election, will cost Rs 3,175 crore

APN Correspondent

Amidst a debate on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and opposition demand for replacing them with ballot papers, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi has asked the government to expedite release of funds for purchasing over 16 lakh Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to meet the ‘requirement’ of the 2019 general election. He said that procurement of the machines can’t be delayed because of the ‘prevailing environment.’

APN carried a story about the Election Commission’s move in its show, Office-Office, on Monday.

In a letter to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Chief Election Commissioner said the government should act fast to provide funds for enabling procurement of the machines which will be attached to the current EVMs. He further said the Election Commission had earlier informed the government that placing an order for the gadgets was necessary in February 2017 for procuring them by September 2018. More than 16 lakh VVPATs will cost about Rs 3,175 crore.

Opposition parties have been questioning the reliability of the EVMs after the BJP’s historic victory in the recent assembly elections. They are demanding  ballot paper-based elections or deployment of VVPATS to dispel doubts of tampering with the machines.

The VVPAT machine dispenses a paper slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted.

In its earlier communication to the government on March 22, the Election Commission had pointed out that the Supreme Court was informed that the required number of VVPATS can be manufactured in 30 months from the date of release of funds.