In­deli­ble ink

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - METRO -

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.”


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