‘Government exploring involving start-ups to make EVMs and VVPAT units’

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) With an eye on better technology and competitive prices, the government is exploring possibility of involving start-ups to make EVMs with the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) units, which are being currently produced by the PSUs Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), said informed sources.

The decision to rope in the start-ups for producing the EVMs coupled with paper trail machines was taken following the cabinet decision to allocate Rs 920 crore for the purchase of the EVMs by the Election Commission.

The only caveat is that machines to be produced by the start-ups will have to comply with the security requirements, they said.

The decision to explore the involvement of start-ups for producing new voting machines with paper trail machines got the backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a view to have better version of the machines at a competitive and cheap price.

The Prime Minister, who had in January this year launched “Start-up India movement”, had suggested that for EVMs technology with VVPAT units, “we can encourage start-ups in consultation with the Election Commission”, said the sources.

The Election Commission requires 13.95 lakhs ballot units, 9.30 lakh control units and 16.15 lakh paper trail machines. The sources said that the machines being currently produced by the two PSUs were based on old technology.

In a October 8, 2013 verdict, the Supreme Court had held EVMs with VVPATs, also called “paper trail”, were an indispensable requirement for free and fair elections as it ensures the accuracy of the voting system.

However, the top court had on July 1 asked the Election Commission (EC) as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it for its failure to use EVMs with VVPAT in “true spirit” during the recent state assembly elections as directed by it in October 2013.

The contempt notice was issued on a plea by the Backward & Minority Community Employees Federation (BAMCEF) contending that the Election Commission has not implemented the October 8, 2013 verdict in its “true spirit”.



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