Cabinet approves buying of 16 lakh paper trail machines

RSTV Bureau
File photo: Election officials inspecting electronic voting machines ahead of voting.

File photo: Election officials inspecting electronic voting machines ahead of voting.

The Union Cabinet has cleared a proposal of the Election Commission to procure paper trail machines for use during future elections.

The decision comes in the wake of growing demands from opposition parties for holding all future elections using paper trail machines along with EVMs, for greater transparency.

The clearance was given after a brief discussion by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The EC had sought Rs 3,174 crore in all for procuring over 16 lakh paper trail machines to cover all polling stations in the country.

The Cabinet has so far cleared two tranches of Rs 1,009 crore and Rs 9,200 for the Commission to buy new electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Since June, 2014, the Commission has given at least 11 reminders to the government seeking funds for VVPAT machines.

Last year, Chief Election Commissioner SNA Zaidi had written to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the funds needed for the machines.

The Supreme Court has asked the Commission to give a tentative timeframe by which it can use VVPAT machines in all polling stations.

The EC says two PSUs — ECIL and BEL — need 30 months to produce over 16 lakh VVPATs.

Sixteen parties had recently sent a written petition to the EC to revert to paper ballot system for greater transparency. The BSP, the AAP and the Congress had attacked the EC on the issue of alleged tampering of EVMs in the five Assembly polls held earlier this year.

The VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home.

The voter can see the voter-verifiable paper audit trail slip for seven seconds, which would be an acknowledgement receipt for the party they voted for in the election.

(With inputs from PTI)