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EC pegs cost at Rs 60 cr

Calcutta/Midnapore, Feb. 6: The Election Commission has estimated that nearly Rs 60 crore would be required to conduct the Assembly polls in Bengal. The amount will be borne by the state government.

The budget was worked out after taking into account that Rs 20 lakh would be required to be spent on each Assembly constituency. With 294 Assembly seats, the figure works out to a little less than Rs 60 crore.

The state government will not have to shell out money for election observers as their bills are paid by states from where they originate. Similarly, the state election department will not have to bear expenses related to police personnel as it is responsibility by the state home department.

Asked whether any fresh directives had been issued by the Election Commission, deputy chief electoral officer N. Sahana said they were yet to receive guidelines on how to conduct the elections.

The office of the chief electoral officer is holding discussions with district magistrates on the number of polling personnel it would require to smoothly conduct the polls.

Polling personnel are to be selected from employees of government undertakings and offices.

If teachers are exempted from poll duty, there would be a shortfall of no less than 40 per cent in terms of personnel. Given this situation, election authorities are at a loss to how things should be managed as they would require about 3.75 lakh polling personnel.

The election department is still not sure about the exact number of booths that are required to be set up. They are awaiting instructions from the EC on the maximum number of voters that should be allowed in each booth.

The election authorities have worked out a tentative number for booths required for voter counts of 1,200, 1,300 and 1,400. Based on this, the requirement may be around 60,000 booths, each to be manned by six polling personnel.

In West Midnapore, EC observer K.J. Rao today visited Chhoto Angaria village, where five Trinamul Congress activists were allegedly killed by miscreants in January, 2001. The case is now being investigated by the CBI.

Rao could realise the trepidation in Chhoto Angaria as people began running away at the very sight of Rao and accompanying policemen.

Rao realised that the villagers were scared at the sight of the policemen and asked them to move away.

He then turned to the villagers and assured them that he had come from Delhi and was representing the Election Commission.

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