With 185 candidates, including over 170 farmers in the poll fray in Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat, the cost of making arrangements for smooth conduct of the April 11 polls would be about Rs 35 crore, Rs 15 crore more than the average expenditure, Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar said. He said the average spend for each of the seven assembly segments in this constituency was about Rs three crore, making it a total of Rs 21 crore. However, in view of the large number of contestants in Nizamabad, they expect the constituency would need an additional Rs 15 crore.
A senior official associated with the polls said the expenditure for Nizamabad is in addition to the procurement cost of a large number of Electronic Voting Machines (Ballot Units, Control Units and VVPATs) that are required.
This expenditure is borne by the Election Commission. The official also said one helicopter would be kept ready exclusively for emergencies if any, and claimed it was the first time in the world that the polls would be held using EVMs with such a large number of candidates.
"In terms of financial implications, the major component of expenditure will be on Travelling Allowances and Dearness Allowances of polling officials. There will be some additional expenditure in terms of publicity and organising awareness campaigns. But that may not be very much. The TA and DA and Logistics cost more.
One helicopter will be kept on standby in case a large number of machines (EVMs) have to be airlifted. "We are still preparing our estimates (for Nizamabad), but it may cost us about 15 crores extra," Rajat Kumar told PTI.
Nizamabad hit headlines after over 170 farmers filed nominations for the April 11 polls as a mark of their protest, alleging that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi had failed to ensure Minimum Support Price for turmeric and red jowar (sorghum) produce and in getting a Turmeric Board established in Nizamabad. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter and sitting MP Kavitha is seeking re-election from the constituency.
A section of farmers contesting in the seat had last week moved the Telangana High Court, urging it to direct the Election Commission to postpone the polling date so as to give them sufficient time for campaigning. The court posted the matter on April 8 for hearing.
"We have asked the State Government for Rs 350 crore for the conduct of the Lok Sabha polls. The entire amount will be reimbursed by the Union Government and there will not be any burden on the state exchequer," the official said. He said that in view of a large number of contestants, 12 ballot Units would be coupled in a series and attached to a Control Unit in inverted 'L' shape.
The Election Commission is using M3 type EVMs, which can support up to 24 BUs. Each BU will have 24 names. The Election Commission had earlier instructed the CEO to place the order for 26,820 BUs, 2240 CUs and 2600 VVPATs of M3 make for Nizamabad.
Rajat Kumar said the EC normally deploys 15 to 16 engineers in a constituency for troubleshooting, but it would be 600 in Nizamabad. He said the EC norm was to have one magistrate for every 10 polling stations, but this number would double in the constituency with one for every five polling stations.
Rajat Kumar said voter awareness programmes were being held and hoardings were being put up in the constituency for the purpose.
(With inputs from agencies.)