EC in rush to acquire ballot boxes

  • Election authority has 65,000 at its disposal, will need at least 85,000

Feb 28, 2017-With just 75 days to go for the local level elections, the Election Commission is scrambling to manage the ballot boxes, as it will require around 85,000 of them. The poll body currently has 65,000 ballot boxes at its disposal.

According to sources, the EC is planning to seek the help of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the ballot boxes.

“We are holding discussions with the UNDP. It has sought specifications, and we are working on it,” said Gopinath Mainali, secretary at the EC. “If the UNDP can provide us with the ballot boxes, our first priority will be getting them from the UN agency,” said Mainali, adding: “Or else, we have to get them from ballot box manufacturers.” The EC had earlier approached Japan, which had donated 65,000 ballot boxes during the earlier elections. But Japan has expressed its inability to deliver the ballot boxes given the time constraint, according to the EC officials.

The poll body has estimated around 23,000 polling booths across the country for local level elections scheduled for May 14.

According to the EC officials, at least three manufacturers including A Daga Steel and Industrial Corporation, an Indian firm, have approached the poll body with interest to supply ballot boxes.          

“If the UN agency expresses its inability to supply ballot boxes, we have to procure them from private firms, for which plan to adopt a ‘short-working procedure’,” said Mainali.

Established in 1961, A Daga Steel and Industrial Corporation has been manufacturing and supplying election materials including ballot boxes, indelible ink, voting compartments and a wide range of election essentials since 1980.

However, EC officials said the cost proposed by the Indian firm is comparatively higher; it has quoted $190 (Rs20,000) for each ballot box. “As other companies also have approached, we will award the contract for supplying ballot boxes on competitive basis,” said a senior EC official.

The EC plans to acquire new ballot boxes with the capacity of 80 litres. The existing ballot boxes have the capacity of 40 litres.

“As ballot papers are going to be larger and longer, we need bigger ballot boxes,” said the EC official.

Published: 28-02-2017 09:24

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