35 million UP voters denied photo-ID cards
As many as 35 million voters in Uttar Pradesh have still not been given photo-identity cards even as five rounds of the seven-phased assembly polls have been conducted.
According to statistics provided to the Rajya Sabha by Law Minister HR Bhardwaj, till Jan 1, 2007 when the voters' list in Uttar Pradesh was last updated, there were 114 million registered voters, of which only 79 million have been issued voters' identity cards so far.
This comes to 69.57 per cent of registered voters possessing the voter identity cards. There are at least 30.43 per cent voters who do not possess voter ID. This makes it nearly impossible for such voters to cast their votes.
Elections to the state assembly are being held in seven phases and the fifth phase was held on Saturday.
There have been any number of complaints by the ruling Samajwadi Party and others that rural voters without ID cards are being chased away from the polling booths by the armed police and Election Commission staff as bogus voters.
The Election Commission made it mandatory for voters to possess identity cards in the year 1994-95 under the then chief election commissioner TN Seshan. Since then till the financial year 2006-07, the government has incurred a cost of over Rs 6 billion on this project, said Bhardwaj.
The said amount spent by the government of India includes Rs 309 million that is yet to be paid to the states of Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
That, the minister said, is largely because while they have made claims of expenditure on account of issuance of photo ID cards, they have not yet provided the central government with audit certificates.
As for the other states, the initial amount allocated to each state in the 1994-95 budget has still not been fully utilised, said the law minister.
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