Special Correspondent

Exercise will reduce hardship faced by people in exercising their franchise

It will ease officials’ burden while dealing with applications for modification of rolls

CHENNAI: A project to rationalise polling stations and reorganise parts and sections of electoral rolls, using Geo Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS), will be taken up in eight districts initially.

Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchi, Salem, Tirunelveli, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram, all of which have large urban agglomerations, will be covered in the first phase, which will be completed in four months.

If required, mid-course refinement will be carried out and the remaining districts covered in phases, according to Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta.

By undertaking this exercise, the hardship faced by people in exercising their franchise, and officials while dealing with applications for modification of rolls, will be greatly reduced, Mr. Gupta told a press conference here.

The Centre for Geographic Information Technologies in the School of Geosciences of Bharatidasan University, Tiruchi, took up a pilot project in the Tiruchi district’s Manapparai Assembly constituency, a predominantly rural setting. At present, the Ambattur constituency, an entirely urban setting, was being covered and work was nearing completion.

The pilot project revealed that relocation of the polling stations reduced travel distance for voters by 37 per cent. It would also facilitate their decongestion, leading to better management of law and order.

Using GIS, another project of mapping of the location of polling stations, important roads and public buildings, rail lines, rivers and major waterbodies all over the State was nearing completion. In 2008, a pilot study of Tiruvallur district was carried out by the Department of Geology of Bharatidasan University.

Database migration

Mr. Gupta and Joint CEO Pooja Kulkarni explained the department’s another project — migration of electoral rolls database from MS (Microsoft) Access to MS SQL (Structured Query Language) Server. This would improve search capabilities and analytical process. [For example, a voter’s name can be searched across parts of the rolls, constituencies and districts.]

Ms. Kulkarni said that under the existing system, voters’ names in two languages — Tamil and English — and their images were kept in separate folders. While preparing electoral rolls, data had to be compiled from the different folders. In the process, mismatch cropped up in some instances. In the new system, all data would be maintained in the same folder, eliminating scope for mismatch.

Mr. Gupta said the search for multiple entries was, till now, restricted to an Assembly constituency or a district. Once the new system was in place, this could be done all over the State.

On the status of the exercise, he said that verification of the migrated records with source records had been taken up.

Later, integration of the mother roll with supplementary rolls used for the Lok Sabha elections would be effected. All these would take a few more weeks. Subsequently, the freeze on updating the rolls database would be lifted.

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