Shimla: The long gap of 46 days, between November 4 polling for Himachal Assembly and date of counting on December 20, has caused an additional expenditure of Rs 4 crore on security of Electronic Voting Machines, state Chief Electoral Officer Narinder Chauhan said on Tuesday.
The total expenditure on polls was likely to be around Rs 10 crore, Chauhan said.
"While 42,000 security personnel were deployed to ensure free and fair polls and security of EVMs, 4,000 persons have been put on duty for the counting day," Chauhan told reporters in Shimla.
"EVMs from tribal area of Lahaul Spiti, cut off due to heavy snow, were shifted to Kullu district in advance but 11 postal ballots could not be brought from snow-bound Lahaul valley as Rohtang pass, linking Kullu with Lahaul and Spiti district, was closed and Election Commission has been informed about it," he said.
These votes would be counted in Udaipur under the supervision of a special committee and micro observers as allowed in 2007 polls, he said, adding that the cost of the 11 postal ballots airlifting to Kullu would be around six lakh, which is not a feasible option, he added.
Elaborate arrangements have been made for counting of votes which would start at 8 am at 68 counting halls on December 20 and all the results would be declared by the evening, Chauhan said.
"In order to take care of any possible snag in any of the EVMs, the help of engineers from the Bharat Heavy Elect Ltd (BHEL) has been sought and experts of BHEL would be present at all 68 counting centres," Chauhan said.
He said, out of a total 1.18 lakh postal ballots, which could play a decisive role in many constituencies, so far over 33,000 postal ballots have been received and these are expected to touch 35,000 mark till the deadline of 7.30 AM on December 20 as compared to 22,000 postal ballots cast in the 2007 assembly polls.
74,000 army personnel and 42,000 state government employees including police and Home Guard personnel were on poll duty, Chauhan said.
The EC received a total of 364 complaints, including 230from individuals with regard to violation of model code of conduct, which will remain in effect till December 24. Out of the total, 134 complaints were made by various political parties, the Congress lodged 91 complaints with the ECI of violation of code of conduct, mainly by the BJP while the ruling BJP filed 27 complaints.
The Bahujan Samaj Party and the CPI(M) lodged four complaints each, Himachal Lokhit Party two and the independents made six complaints.
The Income Tax department seized Rs 3.24 crore cash during the elections.
The ECI received 104 cases of paid news, mostly in the vernacular media, while two complaints with regard to filing of wrong affidavit by the contesting candidates.
This includes complaint regarding assets and properties of Congress candidate from Mandi, Anil Sharma and the Scheduled Caste status of the BJP nominee from Solan reserved constituency, Sheila Devi, he said.
While the ECI has sought report from Deputy Commissioner, Mandi in case of Sharma, the matter with regard to Devi is pending in the High Court, Chauhan said.