EC orders probe as firm fails to webcast polling from 2,150 HP booths
NOV 9 POLL While the company claims it faced connectivity issues, preliminary probe says it didn’t have equipment to livestream voting
SHIMLA: The election commission has sought a detailed report from its IT (information technology) cell over a Gujarat-based firm’s failure to webcast voting from 2,150 polling stations in the state on November 9.
The EC had decided to monitor 2,300 of a total of 7,525 polling stations through webcasting when the state went to assembly polls.
As many as 983 polling stations were declared as vulnerable while 399 were deemed as critical this time with the EC having decided to monitor all booths in the second category.
While the company, the Epitome Corporation Ltd, maintained it faced telephone connectivity problems, preliminary inquiry has revealed that it lacked the required equipment for webcasting. On October 5, the EC had invited bids for livestreaming voting from select polling stations and also track the polling parties.
After analysing the bids, it as roped in the Epitome Corporation Ltd for livestreaming polling from these stations. The company sent its team and the contacted the EC’s local IT cell to set up equipment for this.
The Gujarat firm conducted trial runs a day ahead of the polls on November 8. Surprisingly, webcasting was done from 150 polling stations only, it has been learnt.
Chief electoral officer Pushpinder Rajput did not respond to several calls. Joint election commissioner Vikas Sood said, “We have asked for a detailed report from the deputy commissioners. So far, the election department has not made any payment to the firm. Action will be initiated after analysing booth-wise details of polling.”
The election commission with a view to bringing transparency in the election process had directed that webcasting, CCTV coverage, videography and digital cameras will conducted inside critical and some vulnera- ble polling booths to keep tabs on booth-capturing, money distribution and bogus voting.
CONDITIONS FOR SERVICE PROVIDER
The company was supposed to have recording devices equipped with streaming software the entire day. After webcasting was done, the service provider was supposed to hand over complete recording of polling day in video or audio format in a week.
Returning officer-cum-sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Kalpa AvaninderKumar said web casting was scheduled at 65 of a total of 125 polling booths in the subdivision. “Of the 65, webcasting was done only from three polling booths,” the sub-divisional magistrate informed.
The election commission had decided to monitor 2,300 of a total of 7,525 polling stations through webcasting on voting day. HT FILE