They have been invited to sign MoUs with Collector

Come October 1, Internet browsing centres in the district would begin operating as representatives of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and perform works such as inclusion, deletion or correction of entries in the electoral rolls.

Following instructions from the ECI, Collector L. Subramanian, who is also District Election Officer, has invited applications from browsing centres to sign memorandums of understanding (MoU) with him and begin offering online services at ECI-prescribed costs.

Speaking to The Hindu, the Collector said the MoUs were only to provide an additional facility to the electorate. People could also continue to approach booth-level officers in their localities and get the work done free of cost as usual.

According to him, complaints such as wrong photographs, names and addresses getting printed in the voters’ identity cards can be avoided while applying online as the applicants can verify all the details personally before submitting the applications. It will also avoid chances of applications getting lost.

To ensure successful completion of the work, it has been mandated that the browsing centres should have uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system, printer, scanner, digital web camera and broadband connectivity.

They should also record details of works done by them for the electorates every day. These registers must be submitted for inspection by the Deputy Tahshildars (Election) on every Friday.

Those born before January 1, 1996 will be eligible to include their names in the electoral rolls.

The centres could collect Rs.10 from electorates wanting to either include or delete their names, make corrections or register complaints online. They could also collect Rs.3 per page for taking printouts and Rs.2 for general verification of details in the electoral rolls.

S. Senthil Kumar, who runs a browsing centre on Nethaji Road here and is also vice-president of Madurai Browsing Centre Owners Welfare Association, said many browsing centres had evinced interest in signing MoUs with the Collector but they were dissatisfied with the prescribed rates.

“The work does not involve just filling of online applications. It requires scanning of photographs, uploading them and verification of all necessary documents like ration cards. It is unfair to fix Rs.10 for the work. We can manage only if the volume of customers is high,” he said.

M. Venugopal, a resident of TVS Nagar, was apprehensive as to whether the browsing centres would stick to the rates prescribed by the ECI as they had been already performing such works unofficially and had been charging Rs.40 to 50 from applicants.

“A majority of the browsing centres had been charging somewhere between Rs.50 to 75 for filing each application for Group-IV examinations conducted by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission. Now, will they charge Rs.10 for ECI applications alone,” he wondered.

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