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Delhi may soon get a special godown for storing all EVMs

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-07-2017 PTI

New Delhi: Electronic voting machines (EVMs) used for polling purpose in the city may soon find a permanent place of storage as the chief electoral office of Delhi has set the ball rolling for building a special godown to keep these machines en bloc.

A site spanning about 12,000 sq m has been identified in north-west Delhi’s Bakhtawarpur area. “We are now working on having a permanent storage for EVMs in Delhi, a special godown where they can be kept together. The land has been approved to us by the Lt Governor,” said chief electoral officer (CEO) of Delhi, Chandra Bhushan Kumar.

The EVMs in the city are currently kept at various strong rooms spread across colleges, other institutions and establishments, under very high security cover. “The proposed godown is a G+2 (three-storeyed) building and we have also hired a consultant to design it,” a senior official said. The CEO office, which is situated in the Old St Stephen’s College building at Kashmere Gate, already has a poll museum, housed on its first floor, which charts the electoral history of the country.

The museum set up last October has among rare exhibits, original ballot boxes used in the first general elections and a sample EVM. Endowed with 200-odd exhibits with 100-120 rare photographs, drawn from several archives, the museum christened—’A Journey through Elections’—was inaugurated on 18 October by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, who termed it as the “journey of the electoral democratic process of India”.

EVMs have hogged headlines in the recent past over hacking issues, a subject that had triggered a debate. EVMs run on an ordinary 6 volt alkaline battery manufactured by Bharat Electronics, Bengaluru and Electronic Corporation of India, Hyderabad. Therefore, even in areas with no power connections, EVMs can be used, according to the website of the Election Commission. An EVM consists of two units – a control unit and a balloting unit – joined by a 5-m-long cable. The control unit is with the presiding officer or a polling officer and the balloting unit is placed inside the voting compartment.

EVMs manufactured in 1989-90 were used on experimental basis for the first time in the elections to 16 assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh (5), Rajasthan (5) and Delhi (6) in November 1998, the EC website says. The EVMs are categorised into three labels—Generation-1 machines are those which were manufactured before 2006; Generation-2 between 2006 and 2013 and machines manufactured post-2013 are termed Generation-3.

During the recent MCD polls, Generation-1 machines were used. Ahead of the civic elections, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had demanded that only EVMs equipped with VVPAT (voter-verifiable paper audit trail) be used for polling.

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