New Delhi: An Election Commission proposal tobuy nearly 14 lakh new EVMs ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls today received a push as the government approved first tranche of nearly Rs 9,200 crore to procure 5.50 lakh new ballot units and 5.45 lakh control units during 2016-17.
An EVM consists of a ballot unit and a control unit. The 5,50,000 ballot units (BUs) and 5,45,000 control units (CUs) during 2016-17 will be bought at a tentative cost of Rs 7,7007 crore and Rs 9,3007 crore respectively per unit from Bharat Electronics Ltd and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd.
The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also approved Rs 25 crore for research and development efforts with the specific purpose of significant reduction in the cost of individual units, with a view to bringing down the overall cost of procurements in future.
It was also decided that the procurement plan for BUs and CUs for 2017-18 and 2018-19 would be considered subsequently.
Similarly, the procurement plan for Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail Units (VVPAT) for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 would be considered subsequently. The decision to buy new EVMs would facilitate phasing out of obsolete machines procured during 2000-2005, enabling Election Commission to replenish the stock ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The EC plans to buy nearly 14 lakh new EVMs at a cost of over Rs 5000 crore before 2019.
In its January 18 meeting, the Expenditure Finance Committee headed by Secretary Expenditure in the Finance Ministry, gave in-principle approval for purchase of 13,95,648 new balloting units and 9,30,432 control units at an estimated cost of Rs 5,511.48 crore between financial years 2015-16 and 2018-19.
The two government undertakings — Bharat Electronics Ltd, Bengaluru and Electronic Corporation of India Ltd, Hyderabad will not be in a position to produce new EVMs in one go and would provide it to the Commission in batches.
The machines EC gets in batches can be used in coming assembly polls and by the time the next Lok Sabha polls are due the delivery will be completed. In a proposal sent to the Law Ministry, the Commission had said that 9,30,430 EVMs in use today would become “outdated” between 2015-16 and 2019-20. PTI
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