Opposition to converting community hall into a storage room for EVMs

Residents and representatives of political parties on Wednesday staged a protest against the move of the Election Commission to convert a Chennai Corporation community hall in Nammazhwarpet into a storage room for electronic voting machines (EVM) to be used for the Assembly Elections 2011.

The first consignment of 3,100 EVMs for 16 Assembly constituencies in Chennai district arrived from Gujarat on Wednesday. The next consignment of EVMs would reach the storage room on Thursday.

Representatives of a few political parties have given in writing their concern over storing EVMs in the community hall.

Residents of the locality objected to the move because many of them had already booked the hall for functions, said V. Saravanan, a resident.

R.Yuvaraj, who is getting married on Monday, had booked the hall months in advance. But, he came to know on Wednesday that the hall would not be available for solemnising the marriage. “No other options are available for me. I am worried. I do not know what to do. Getting another hall now is not possible. The contractor is unable to help me. The Chennai Corporation should help me,” said Mr.Yuvraj.

J. Jagadeesan, who is getting married on February 13, also opposed the decision to covert the hall into the storage room. “I booked the hall on September 20, 2010. I planned in advance for my marriage. But, now I have to start hunting for another hall. It is not possible. I request the Corporation to help us with an alternative arrangement,” he said.

The community hall comes under ward 59 and the Ayanavaram zone of the Corporation. Ward councillor Devaki said that some of the residents objected to the move because the community hall was one of the most useful buildings for functions organised by the weaker sections in the locality.

J.S. Kumar, manager of the private firm that bagged the contract for running the community hall, said that they were informed only in the morning about the decision. “Our contract had ended on October 26, 2010, but we were given a four-month extension as the hall was used for census training during the contract period,” he said.

“The Chennai Corporation will definitely make alternative arrangements for the affected residents, who had booked the community hall,” said Corporation Commissioner D. Karthikeyan.

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