Delivery of VVPAT Machines Delayed but EC Confident of Meeting Deadline Before 2019 Polls
The EC said the delivery was delayed as they were analysing technology stabilisation issues in the initial batches and incorporating design improvements.
File photo of election officials checking VVPAT machines. (PTI)
New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) has admitted that the deliveries of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) have been delayed but has expressed confidence that they were on track for the 2019 general elections.
Responding to a report in The Indian Express based on an RTI reply, the commission issued a statement saying, “While all required EVMs will be delivered by 30th Sep 2018, VVPAT deliveries are delayed as the Technical Experts Committee on EVMs appointed by the Commission analyses the technology stabilisation issues in the initial batches and incorporates essential design improvements.”
The commission added, “Even then, due to continuous monitoring at the highest level, including personal visits by the Commission of all the production units, all VVPATs shall also be delivered well before end of Nov 2018, well within the time required for making pre-poll preparations.”
Quoting official records, the newspaper had reported that the commission was struggling to meet the deadline it committed to the Supreme Court for procuring 16 lakh VVPAT machines for the Lok Sabha elections due next year.
“As on June 19 this year, almost 14 months after the EC placed orders for 16.15 lakh VVPATs with BEL and ECIL, the poll panel had received 3.48 lakh units — in other words, meeting only 22 per cent of the target three months before the deadline,” the report said.
In its clarification, the EC said, “In order to meet the requirement of VVPATs for 100% saturation of all polling stations for the Lok Sabha Elections in 2019, the Commission placed an order of 16.15 lakh VVPATs to be produced by the PSU manufacturers namely Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bangalore and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), Hyderabad in May 2017.
“Till date, 5.88 lakh units have been produced by the PSUs (4.36 lakh by BEL and 1.52 lakh by ECIL), which is 36% of the total quantity to be supplied.”
It added, “Both the PSUs have assured the Commission that the remaining VVPAT units (10.27 lakh) will be manufactured and supplied to the various States/UTs before end of Nov 2018.”
The commission said it was consistently reviewing the status of production and supply of VVPATs with the CMDs of PSUs, as well as the technical experts committee, and its officials were monitoring the manufacture and supply of machines on a daily basis to ensure timely delivery.
It reiterated that the production and supply of additional quantities of EVMs (13.95 lakh Ballot Units and 9.3 lakh Control Units) required for the 2019 polls would be completed by September 2018 as per schedule, and that of VVPAT before November 2018.
The commission said comprehensive and systematic preparatory activities for the elections, including the detailed First Level Checking (FLC) of EVMs and VVPATs, had commenced across various states and UTs and it was committed to the 100% deployment of VVPATs at all polling stations in future elections.
Over the last 20 years, the EC has successfully conducted 113 state legislative assembly elections and three Lok Sabha elections using EVMs. Since June 2017, VVPAT machines have also been used along with the EVMs in general and by-elections in all state assembly and parliamentary constituencies for enhanced voter verifiability.
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