The Election Commission has, in an ambitious move to tackle bogus voting, conceived photo electoral rolls and detailed mapping of constituencies using GIS technology. The twin proposals, which have already progressed beyond the drawing board stage, envisage introduction of voters’ photograph besides their names and particulars in the electoral rolls, and preparation of GIS maps that will pin-point voters by their residence, helping the enumerator in maximum coverage. Indications are that the photo electoral rolls may be in place ahead of the parliamentary elections next year. For the GIS mapping, the EC is likely to outsource the maps from private players as well as the Census Commission. It has already identified Eicher, which is doing the GIS mapping of two of Delhi ’s constituencies — Madipur and Kalkaji. Besides, it is looking at Reliance Infocomm, which already has an existing database of GIS maps that it had used to lay its network across the country. The GIS mapping of the country, for which the Commission is likely to invite tenders, may generate a business of hundreds of crore, going by the Rs 8.5-lakh fee that Eicher is charging for mapping two assembly constituencies alone.
As for its initiative to introduce photo electoral rolls, the Commission is only carrying forward the efforts of former CEC T N Seshan to cleanse the electoral system by having launched electoral photo identity cards (EPICs) and EVMs. The photo electoral rolls will bear the photo of each voter alongside his name and particulars. As per the EC’s plans, taking photos afresh will not be necessary. The database of photos used for preparing EPICs would be matched with the existing computerised electoral rolls, saving costs as well as time. “We are currently scouting for technology to improve the quality of the existing photographs….once that is done, we are looking at conducting the next Lok Sabha polls with photo electoral rolls,” deputy election commissioner Noor Mohammad told ET. The EC’s optimism is drawn from the pilot project that it undertook in two constituencies each of Kerala and Haryana.
Source: The Economic Times
3rd November, 2003