AS PART of its security arrangement for Jangalmahal in poll-bound West Bengal, Election Commission (EC) has sent a requisition for three helicopters to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for aerial surveillance in the sprawling forest area.
“We are making security arrangements for Jangalmahal area and for that we have sent a requisition to the MHA for three helicopters… We are yet to get a confirmation from them though they (the ministry) have briefly committed to it,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dibyendu Sarkar said on Monday.
“We have briefed the ministry the reason behind the need of the helicopters… they will be used to oversee security arrangements in Jangalmahal,” he added.
On the number of central forces required in Jangalmahal, which was earlier considered a hot bed of Maoist activities, the election officer said the calculation was still on and the picture would be clear within a few days.
With only a week to go before the first phase of the Assembly elections in Bengal, the full bench of the EC of on Monday met chief electoral officers (CEOs) of all states. Along with MHA officials, Bengal chief secretary, home secretary, chief electoral officer, excise commissioner and state police officers participated in a video conference. Top officers from Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand also attended the video conference.
“In the video conference, inter-border security between West Bengal and Assam and the state’s critical borders with Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha were discussed… There was also a discussion on where check points have been erected and which areas required the same,” Sarkar said.
He added the main agenda of the meeting was security along internal and international borders. “Discussions were held on checkpoints and inter-border movement of suspected miscreants and arms,” said Sarkar.
Speaking about the number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) to be used in the six-phase polls in the state, Sarkar said 89,342 machines have been readied for the purpose. “There are others, including those kept on reserve and used for training and awareness programmes… In all, there are 99,523 EVMs,” he added.
Sarkar said the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) would be used in 22 Assembly constituencies. “VVPAT will be used in one constituency of every district and in two constituencies — Jadavpur and Behala West of South 24 Parganas,” he added.
Introduced during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, under VVPAT, the voter would be able to see who he had voted for on a small screen next to the EVM.
After he had voted, a small paper slip would come out from the machine — confirming the vote — and put in a sealed box placed next to it. The idea is to facilitate physical verification in case there is a discrepancy.
WITH PTI inputs