Friday, November 30, 2018

Electronic Voting Machines (EVM): A Green Initiative?

Way back in the year 1977, the then chief election commissioner (CEC) SL Shakdhar, during a tour of Hyderabad, requested the Electronics Corporation of India to study the feasibility of using an electronic device for conducting elections. In 1979, a prototype was developed and the following year, the Commission demonstrated how it worked to representatives of political parties. Today these machines are used in most of the elections in India. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, all voters will use EVMs.

Off late, there had been concern by few political parties, who alleged that these machines could be rigged! We will leave that aspect to the politicians but here we will discuss how using these machines could be termed as a green initiative by election commission!

EVMs spell good news for the environment as replace ballot papers, for which hundreds of tonnes of paper were used. According to some reports, during the last parliamentary election, 7,000-8,000 tonnes of paper were required to print ballots wherever needed. This meant the felling of 1.2 lakh fully grown trees. It is estimated that about 10,000 tonnes of paper will be saved through the use of EVMs in all polling booths.

“In the past few decades the Election Commission has progressively and successfully introduced many green initiatives, the most important of which is the use of EVMs, which has saved trees and paper to a large extent,” says former CEC N Zaidi. He also points to yet another environment-friendly move of the EC — the curb on noise pollution by regulating the use of loudspeakers in political campaigns.

Similarly, the Election Commission also wish that use of plastic should also be banned in election including political parties. The World Wide Fund for Nature-India, in a letter to the EC in 1999, had stated that it was “very perturbed over the excessive and non-sensible use of plastic by political parties”, which not only caused “choking of drainage systems in major towns and cities” but also contaminated agricultural fields.

Responding to the letter, the Commission wrote to all political parties, urging them not to use plastic for their posters and banners. (Source: BusinessLine)

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