The Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued a letter of intent to purchase 16,15,000 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) at an estimated cost of Rs 3,173.47 crore during 2017-18 and 2018-19 from central PSUs BEL and ECIL, an official statement said on Sunday.
According to the letter sent to the Chairmen and Managing Directors of the Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) on April 21, the poll panel has indicated its willingness to purchase 8,07,500 VVPATS from each of the PSUs by September 18.
"These VVPATs shall be manufactured by both PSUs only as per the design approved by the Commission based on recommendation of the Technical Experts Committee on Electronic Voting Machines constituted by the Commission and comprising of eminent technical professors from Indian Institute of Technology (IITs)," said the statement, adding that the ECI will closely monitor production of VVPATs for timely delivery well before General Elections 2019.
"This will enhance transparency and uphold the voters' right to know which party he or she has voted, thereby increasing voters' confidence in the free and fair electoral process," said the statement quoting Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi.
On April 19, the Union Cabinet approved an outlay of Rs 3,173.47 crore for procuring 16,15,000 VVPATS, to be used in the General Elections 2019.
The decision came in the wake of allegations of EVM-tampering by various opposition parties, including the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Aam Admi Party.