After Nilgiris, CCTV camera malfunctions in Erode strong room: DMK demands action

The incident occurred outside a strong room in the Government College of Engineering in Chithode.
A polling official checks Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). Image for representation.
A polling official checks Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). Image for representation.PTI
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During the wee hours of Monday, April 29, a CCTV camera that was placed outside one of the strong rooms storing the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, used in the Erode Parliamentary Constituency of Tamil Nadu, malfunctioned for an hour. The strong room was located in the Government College of Engineering in Chithode. 

A similar issue was reported from the counting centre of the Government Polytechnic College in Udhagamandalam, in the Nilgiris Lok Sabha Constituency, where the CCTV cameras in six of the strong rooms housing EVMs went blank for 20 minutes on April 27.  

In the wake of the second such incident, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on Monday, April 29, requesting prompt intervention to guarantee the safety of strong rooms and prevent security breaches. The DMK organising secretary, R S Bharathi, requested the CEC to ensure that the interruption of the CCTV coverage was not caused deliberately. 

According to the Erode District Election Officer (DEO) Raja Gopal Sunkara, the glitch in one of the CCTV cameras outside a strong room was fixed in an hour. He added that all the other cameras outside the strong room were functioning normally.

Raja explained that the strong rooms, which house the EVMs used in six assembly constituencies, have a three-tier security system in place. There are 48 CCTV cameras outside all the strong rooms in Erode—eight cameras are placed outside each strong room, all of which are connected to a control room. He added that all political parties’ representatives can monitor the CCTV footage.

The monitoring via the CCTV footage will last until June 4, when the election results are due. The footage will be stored for a period of three months following the results.  

A similar event occurred in 2018 during the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, where the CCTV cameras in a strong room in Bhopal, stopped functioning for more than an hour. Reacting to the incident, the Election Commission had said that even though the EVMs were not tampered with, procedural lapses were made by the concerned official.    

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