The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a proposal of the Election Commission to procure paper trail machines for use during future elections. The cabinet sanctioned Rs 3,171 crores for procuring over 16 lakh VVPAT units, which will be ready for use before September 2018.
The decision comes in the wake of growing demands from opposition parties for holding all future elections using paper trail machines along with EVMs, to clear doubts about votes cast.
The clearance was given by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a brief discussion.
VVPAT and its benefits
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is one of the systems which the Congress and other opposition parties urged the EC to look at. VVPAT has been used in India too, but only on a pilot basis.
One of the benefits of VVPAT is that the authorities can keep a printed record of the votes polled. When a vote is cast, a receipt is generated which shows the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate.
When a vote is cast, a receipt is generated which shows the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate. This can help the authorities to count the votes manually if there is a dispute in the electronically polled votes. However, the printout is not accessible to the voter.
According to the EC, the VVPAT system was not manufactured due to doubts on the EVM, but was part of the upgradations of the system.
The demand for VVPATs linked to EVMs began in 2010, when an all-party meeting, urged the EC to explore the prospect.
After three years of consultations on the deployment of VVPATs, the EC, on the direction of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, introduced domestically built paper trail machines for 10 of the 40 Assembly seats in Meghalaya elections.
Here is the full text of the Union cabinet's decision
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for procurement of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units for use in the General Election to the Lok Sabha, 2019 for
a) purchase of 16,15,000 VVPAT units at a tentative unit cost of Rs 19,650, and at a total estimated cost of Rs 3173.47 crore (excluding taxes and freight as applicable) during the years 2017-18 and 2018-19 from M/s Bharat Electronics Ltd., Bangalore and M/s Electronics Corporation of India Ltd, Hyderabad;
b) directing the Price Negotiation Committee to negotiate with M/s Bharat Electronics Ltd and M/s Electronics Corporation of India Ltd to rationalise the final unit price expeditiously;
c) allocation of additional funds to the tune of Rs 1,600 crore in the current financial year in the supplementaries/revised estimates for meeting the cash outgo envisaged for purchase of EVMs (control units and ballot units) and VVPAT units during the year 2017-18, payment of 40 percent of the said amount as advance to the manufacturers and for provision of balance amount as may be required in the BE 2018-19; and
d) placement of order by the Election Commission to the two manufacturers depending upon their production capacity so that all the VVPAT units can be procured by September 2018.
The decision of the government would enable the EC to deploy VVPAT units in all polling booths in the General Election to the Lok Sabha in 2019, which will act as an additional layer of transparency for the satisfaction of voters, allaying any apprehension in the minds of the voters as to the fidelity and integrity of the EVMs. This would also result in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court vide its order dated 8 October 2013.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Apr 20, 2017 16:29 PM