Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda has urged Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to help expedite the approval for buying nearly 14 lakh new electronic voting machines (EVMs) so the Election Commission has sufficient equipment by 2019, when the next Lok Sabha elections are due.
Gowda has written to Jaitley recently requesting him to speed up the proposal pending before a committee on non-plan expenditure headed by Secretary Expenditure in the Finance Ministry.
The Election Commission wants to purchase nearly 14 lakh new EVMs as over nine lakh machines in use now are nearing end of their 15-year life span.
A senior official said two government undertakings—
Bharat Electronics Ltd, Bangalore 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 sooner we start the better. 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,” he said.
The EC had once again flagged the issue of new EVMs at a meeting between Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and top Law Ministry officials here on January 5.
“The purchase has to be made in batches over a period of time as the manufacturing firms have limitation to the production capacity...CEC also wrote to Law Minister,” a statement issued by EC on January 7 said.
The Law Ministry has given its “in principle” approval for buying new EVMs.
In a proposal sent to the Law Ministry, the Commission had said 9,30,430 EVMs in use today would become “outdated” between 2015-16 and 2019-20.
It has moved a proposal to buy 13,95,648 new balloting units and 9,30,432 control units at an estimated cost of Rs 5511.48 crore between financial years 2015-16 and 2018-19.