NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Thursday said it was as per the poll panel's instructions of July 2018 that power supply of the EVM strong room in Bhopal was disconnected after it was sealed, to rule out a short-circuit. As for the CCTV cameras and LED screen installed outside the strongroom, it said they were functional right from sealing of the strong room till interruption of power supply at 8.19 am on November 30 due to “local fault of electricity arrangement”, which was restored at 9.35 am.
The Commission, in a detailed response to Congress' complaint dated December 4 alleging illegalities in deposit of EVMs in the strong room and incidents related to reserve EVMs in Madhya Pradesh, stated that when DEO, Bhopal visited the strong room in the morning, he found its security as per norms. “The in-charge of CISF stated that there was temporary power cut during above mentioned period and no person visited during this time and EVM strong room is secured as per norms,” it added.
Citing the relevant rule, EC said “main switch of the warehouse/strong room should be installed outside the warehouse/strong room to avoid short circuiting...no external power unit should be installed or kept inside the strong room”. Since the main switch for the inside warehouse/strong room is installed outside, when it was turned off, the power supply to CCTV installed inside the strong room too got disconnected, it explained.
The poll panel added that CCTV cameras installed to monitor the gate of the Bhopal strong room and movement of visitors were however functional from sealing of strong room on November 29 onwards.
“This CCTV was never asked to be...cut from power supply. This camera is also connected to LED displayed outside the strong room campus for monitoring by candidates and their representatives as the gate of strong room is not directly visible to them. Further, they were working properly from sealing time till November 30 morning up to 8.19 am, where there was interruption in power supply which caused temporary shutdown of CCTV camera and LED which is placed outside strong room campus for candidates and their representatives. This was restored at 9.35 am on November 30 and is functioning properly with all backup facilities,” said the poll panel.
EC said it had ensured action on other complaints from the Congress relating to Khurai assembly constituency, where the returning officer and SDO(revenue) were removed; and Shujalpur, where major penalty proceedings had been initiated against 4 delinquent officers though EVMs found with them had not been used in polling.
Regarding Congress complaint about staff of returning officer's team entering the strong room in Maiher assembly constituency of Satna, EC said the said officers had only gone to a standalone storeroom “far from the strongroom area” to keep empty boxes needed to pack EVMs/VVPATs after counting. It added that the DEO had demonstrated to some candidates that no person had even come close to the strongroom area.
As for Congress complaint relating to Khandwa, EC said sector officer, in charge, Principal Government College, Mundi, had kept one set of unused (reserve) EVM in Police Station Chhaigaonmakhan due to lack of space in his vehicle on November 28. Returning officer informed DEO a day later that one machine and two more unused ones given to returning officer were kept in tehsil office, which were not used in voting but could not be deposited in time. The DEO them asked for all such machines to be deposited in the warehouse and this was done in presence of some contesting candidates and other officers. “Strong room fixed for Pandhana which was sealed in the morning of 29.11.2018 was never opened for this,” EC said adding that show cause notices had been issued to 6 concerned officers. (ENDS)