Ministers’ panel supports Election Commission move to buy new electronic voting machines

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New Delhi, April 27: A panel of ministers, headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is understood to have cleared an Election Commission proposal to buy nearly 14 lakh new electronic voting machines (EVMs) at a cost of over Rs 5000 crore ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The group of ministers is learnt to have sent its recommendation to the Prime Minister’s Office supporting the purchase of EVMs in batches.

“The minutes of the meeting have been sent to the PMO for approval. Once the minutes are approved, the Union Cabinet will take up the proposal to buy new EVMs,” a senior official confirmed.

The Election Commission had last year approached the government to buy nearly 14 lakh new electronic voting machines.

In its January 18 meeting, the Expenditure Finance Committee headed by Secretary Expenditure in the Finance Ministry, gave in-principle approval for the purchase of 13,95,648 new balloting units and 9,30,432 control units at an estimated cost of Rs 5,511.48 crore between financial years 2015-16 and 2018-19.

According to sources, nearly Rs 1,872 crore would be required in 2016-17 for the new EVMs, but final figures will be available when the EC issues tender.

The over nine lakh machines currently in use nearing end of their 15-year life.

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