Maharashtra spent Rs. 10 crore just on sending letters by speed post to 26 lakh voters whose names had been deleted from the rolls before the recent Lok Sabha polls and the upcoming assembly elections to the 288-member Maharashtra assembly will cost the state at least Rs. 500 crore, according to Election Commission and finance department officials.
The state government has to draw money from the contingency fund to pay for the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May, spending on which shot up to more than Rs. 550 crore from the estimated Rs. 372 crore.
“Though most of the district collectorates have not yet submitted the final accounts, the revised estimate is about Rs. 550 crore based on the fresh information received from them. In Mumbai city, it is Rs. 40 crore, and Rs. 60 crore and Rs. 63 crore in suburban Mumbai and Thane respectively,” an officer from the finance department said.
The EC expects the expenditure on the assembly elections to increase similarly from the estimated Rs. 420 crore to about Rs. 500 crore. “Most of the expenditure is on stationary, transport of men and material, and setting up polling and counting booths. The increase in surveillance squads, on the direction of the EC, has also led to a rise in the expenditure,” the officer said.
This means expenditure on the two elections in the state this year will be about Rs. 1100 crore. The state gets paid the full amount by the centre, but it takes years.
The state had made a budgetary allocation of Rs. 372 crore for the Lok Sabha elections, so the rest of the money will have to be raised from the contingency fund, which is kept for emergency expenditure and expenses of unforeseen nature. Officials say it would become very difficult for the cash-strapped state government to release funds immediately.