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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Election officials face fund crunch

ADILABAD: There is a possibility that the continuing delay in release of funds meant for conduct of elections can result in jeopardising the process of counting.

Election officials at Assembly constituency level have started exhibiting reluctance in making arrangements for the last but crucial part of the democratic exercise to be held on May 16.

Faced with severe cash crunch, election officials in Adilabad district charged the Election Commission (EC) of getting carried away by its success in curbing flow of money in the recent democratic exercise. “Can there be any other reason for the EC not to release funds needed for conduct of elections,” questions an official in Adilabad Assembly constituency, evidently perturbed over the cash-strapped situation.

The estimated expenditure for conduct of elections at each of the 10 Assembly constituencies in Adilabad district is about Rs. 50 lakhs of which only about Rs. 16 lakhs has been released so far. “This money was sufficient only for the payments towards allowances given to the polling staff.

We owe about Rs. 25 lakhs to different agencies and persons who supplied food grains, drinking water, lighting, fuel, stationery, tents and some other material needed for making arrangements for smooth conduct of elections”, points out another official.

Allowances

The allowances of election staff has been raised in these elections following a strong demand made by them.

Instead of sanction of money based on the distance travelled by the staff, they were given a flat rated allowance of Rs. 250 for Polling Officer and Assistant Polling Officer and Rs.175 for other polling personnel. In addition, they were given Rs. 100 each per day towards meal charges.

These elections also saw increased number of videography teams in all the constituencies that also raised substantially the amount spent on that aspect.

Comparing the situation regarding release of funds during last year’s by-elections to Adilabad Parliamentary seat, an official said,

“Although in a phased manner, the EC released in time all Rs. 36 lakhs incurred on making arrangements in the Adilabad Assembly segment that time.

The general increase in cost of material due to inflation has also increased the expenditure by about Rs. 10 to Rs. 12 lakhs over last year’s affair”.

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