The remaining 72 constituencies will go to the polls on November 20.
“Threats are issued to locals in LWE areas to boycott the elections, failing which the Maoists threaten to chop off their fingers if they are found with ink marks. Voters whose fingers are marked with the indelible ink are vulnerable to attacks,” the official cited above said.
This is not the first time that such a request has been made; similar concerns were put forth by the election officials of the state ahead of the 2013 assembly polls as well as the 2014 general election. However, both times the indelible ink that is made by Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited was used.
Former chief election commissioner HS Brahma said the issue was very sensitive; it may not be feasible to discontinue the use of indelible ink as it is the only sureshot way of ensuring that no bogus voting takes place, he said.
“It will be very difficult and not advisable to change the rules at the last minute, especially since there is no foolproof alternative to using the ink,” he said.
The ECI has put forth the argument that doing away with use of indelible ink may jeopardise free and fair elections, although it says that the safety of voters, and polling officials and security forces deputed at election time, is paramount.
“There could be bogus voting, for instance, in which case the real voters will be denied a chance to exercise their franchise. There are several such concerns that the EC will have to consider,” the official quoted above said.
The eight most affected LWE districts in the state are Kanker, Rajnandgaon, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada and Sukma.
Mahasamund, Dhamtari, Balod, Gariyahand, Kabirdham and Balrampur are also designated LWE districts.
In 2013, there were 58 incidents of Maoist violence during elections in Chhattisgarh, which left three security force personnel dead; five polling stations were attacked.
In the 2008 assembly polls, 23 electronic voting machines were looted and 122 incidents of violence took place. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 18 electronic voting machines were looted and there were 144 incidents of violence. is partly aimed at improving air quality by replacing older, polluting vehicles with environment-friendly and fuel-efficient ones.
India has 700,000 trucks, buses and taxis manufactured before December 31, 2000 that contribute 15-20% of vehicular pollution, according to an analysis by AT Kearney based on data from the Central Pollution Control Board and Union road ministry emission norms. According to the study, trucks and buses account for just 2.5% of the total fleet, yet they contribute over 60% of pollution.
The ministry had expected 350,000 vehicles to be scrapped in the next two to three years if the scheme, welcomed by vehicle makers, received the Cabinet’s green signal.
The fact that five states are due to go to the polls in November-december, followed by the general election in 2019, may be one reason for the delay in states responding.
“Some states are not happy. States have to be the implementing agency and they are going to be as much part of the implementation, like the Motor Vehicle Act though it’s a central act,” a second ministry official said, also on the condition of anonymity.
“Ninety percent of functionality and implementation is with the state and any state in a federal set-up would be zealous about maintaining its own independence. Consultations with them are still going on, now that elections have been announced, it’s moving at an even slower pace. Discussions on incentives is taking a lot of time. Therefore, only after consultation will we be able to take it forward,” another ministry official said.
An official at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers said vehicle scrapping centres need to be in place before the policy is implemented.
“...if you start scrapping vehicles tomorrow, where will you send them for scrapping,” he said on the condition of anonymity. “Either way, scrappage is already happening but the incentive scheme is yet to come and I think there is some discussion that is still required in this. Getting states on board is part of our political system. GST (goods and services tax) took nine years to implement because of the states, and in a democracy, decisions will take time.”
The government has also issued a notification mandating implementation of Bharat Stage -VI (BS-VI) emission norms from April 1, 2020, skipping an intermediate stage, for all vehicles. Vehicle emission standards were introduced for the first time in India in 2000.
“From what I know, the combined effect of the incentives, along with the policy, will be quite huge. Given the current fiscal situation of the central government as well as the states, I doubt how much new incentives can be passed on to the users,” said Kushal Singh, a partner at consulting firm Deloitte India.
“Another issue is that with the advent of GST, the financial condition of the states has virtually remained the same and didn’t improve the way it was predicted with GST coming in. Therefore, expecting the states also to give some incentives at this point of time may be a Herculean task. My guess is that it will take more time for the policy to be announced.”
THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALSO MANDATED IMPLEMENTATION OF BHARAT STAGE VI EMISSION NORMS FROM APRIL 1, 2020