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Shortage of EVMs likely

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, APRIL 24. The Capital is likely to face a massive shortage of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the May 10 Lok Sabha polls here. The shortfall, officials in the Election Commission said, was because the two major parliamentary constituencies would have more than 16 candidates, the maximum number an EVM box can accommodate.

After the scrutiny of nominations today, 28 candidates each were left in race from the Outer Delhi and East Delhi constituencies. Though Monday is the last day for withdrawal of nominations, officials said the number of candidates in these seats was unlikely to drop below 16. With 19 candidates left in the race from Delhi Sadar, officials said there was a strong possibility of more than 16 contestants remaining in the fray from here. The South Delhi constituency is on the edge with 17 candidates. Officials are hoping that at least one candidate would withdraw from the fray thus bringing the number down to 16.

"In this case, we would have to make arrangements for about 7,000 more EVM balloting unit," said officials in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi. As of now, the CEO has about 12,500 EVMs in the stores, including 2,500 spare EVMs. "This means we would be requiring around 4,500 to 5,000 more balloting units for the Delhi Lok Sabha polls," the official said, adding that top officials in the Election Commission have already been sounded in this regard. Of the over 9,050 polling booths in the Capital, more the one-third are in Outer Delhi (3,258 polling booths) alone, followed by East Delhi (2,563). There are 522 polling booths in Delhi Sadar and 1,164 in South Delhi.

With the rest of the country having already used the available EVMs, officials said they would be facing difficulties in arranging the balloting units. "The problem would be compounded as the type of EVMs used in Delhi is being used only in a few other States. They would be lending us the EVMs only if they have spare ones. But arranging for such a huge numbers would be a difficult task," the official said, adding that this would also create logistic problems for them. While stating that the possibility of use of ballot papers was bleak, the officials, however, did not rule it out altogether.

As for the rest of the Parliamentary constituencies, the total number of candidates after the scrutiny of nomination was less than 16. For the New Delhi and Karol Bagh seats, official said 15 candidates each were in the race, while Chandni Chowk had 14 valid nominations. For the Moti Nagar Assembly by-election, being held simultaneously, there are 13 candidates in the fray after the scrutiny of nominations.

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