For the Election Commission, it has been a difficult task to procure video cameras required to record polling in sensitive polling stations in many districts, including Hassan. As most of the studios are busy with marriage offers, the Election Commission is making all efforts to get the cameramen for the May 5 polls. On the day of polling, majority of the marriage halls are booked, so are the cameramen.

The EC has directed the district level officers to deploy cameramen or micro-observers for smooth conduct of polling in sensitive polling stations. In Hassan district, the administration has identified 728 sensitive and 386 hyper-sensitive booths. Paramilitary forces would be deployed in all 386 polling stations. Micro-observers would be deployed in 589 sensitive booths and cameras in another 139 booths.

“We require 139 cameras for recording at these polling booths. Our officers are finding it difficult to find the required numbers of cameramen as most of them are busy with marriage programmes on May 4 and 5”, Additional Deputy Commissioner H.N. Gopala Krishna told The Hindu.

The issue of non-availability of cameramen had been raised by several district level officers during the video-conferences regularly held by the Chief Electoral Officer. The commission has fixed Rs 1,200 as cameraman’s charge for the polling day. The amount is less compared to what cameramen earn a day in a marriage hall.

Prakash, a cameraman in Hassan, said at present cameramen charge Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 2,500 for a day’s work. They would prefer marriage programmes to election work as the payment would be more. In Uttara Kannada district, the cameramen’s association took a decision not to accept the EC work unless it increases its pay to at least Rs. 2,500 a day. The EC has asked the district level-officers to increase the payment up to Rs. 1,500 and make arrangements for cameramen.

Besides this, a few district level officers also suggested the EC grant them permission to procure handy-cams, which could be used in such booths, where cameramen are not available.

Cameramen have to be present at the polling booths allotted to them between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. on May 5. They have to submit a compact disc (CD) of recordings on the same evening.

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