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KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet on Saturday decided to install 20,000 day-and-night vision cameras at 5,776 polling stations to monitor the entire polling process — from start of the polling to its completion and counting of votes, officials said.

They said caretaker Chief Minister Fazal-ur-Rahman presided over the meeting attended by all members of the interim cabinet, chief secretary, IGP Sindh, principal secretary to the CM, secretaries of various departments and chairman of the National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC).

The chief minister referred to the previous cabinet meeting which, keeping in view time constraints as the election was fast approaching, had approved exemption from operation of the Sindh Public Procurement Rules 2009 vis-à-vis procurement of equipment and services for video surveillance system for the ‘highly sensitive’ polling stations.

CM Rahman said surveillance of all polling stations was vital to ensure monitoring of each polling station from the start of polling process to the end; then counting and sealing of bags of votes.

‘After detailed negotiations with the NRTC, the price was brought down to Rs575m from Rs915m’

“Since the financial implication involved in the procurement of CCTV cameras and other required equipment (to keep every polling station in check) was very high, I had assigned the task to the chief secretary to negotiate with the NRTC so that the entire project could be commissioned at the minimum possible cost,” the cabinet was told.

Chief Secretary retired major Azam Suleman said the NRTC had offered a rate of Rs1 million cost per polling station for the purchase of CCTV cameras. “Hence, for 4,154 polling stations Rs4.154 billion was required,” he said.

He added that later the home ministry estimated a revised cost for 5,000 polling stations to Rs1.79bn for the purchase of a surveillance camera system.

The chief secretary said in consultation with the chief minister it was decided to acquire a CCTV camera system on a rental basis.

The chief secretary said the NRTC came up with a fresh proposal of Rs915 million, excluding GST for 5,000 polling stations comprising 15,000 CCTV cameras.

He added that he constituted a four-member committee comprising secretary of the general administration department Zulfikar Shah, home secretary Mohammad Haroon, secretary and director for IT and a representative of the NRTC.

The secretary told the cabinet after detailed negotiations with the NRTC the committee was able to bring the rates down from Rs915m to Rs575m, including GST.

He added that the additional concessions were also obtained from the NRTC which included an increase in the number of sensitive polling stations from 5,000 to 5,776. Besides, the number of CCTV cameras in the negotiated price was increased from 15,000 to 20,000 cameras while 30 per cent of all the CCTV cameras and video recorders would become property of the Sindh government after completion of the elections.

NRTC chairman Brig Taufiq Ahmed told the cabinet that 20,000 day-and-night vision 2MP HD cameras would be installed at 5,776 polling stations — three cameras to cover each polling station.

He said there would be 5,776 video recorders (VR-4, IU) with 5,776 hard disk drives, each one having space of 2TB for recording; 5776 LCD screens and 5,776 one-kV UPS, each of them with 1x200AH wet battery.

A government spokesman said the cabinet appreciated the efforts of the chief secretary and his team for reducing the cost of the project.

The cabinet approved the project and the NRTC chairman told the cabinet the work on it would begin on July 2 and after the installation of all cameras, their accessories and other equipment, including a backup system and training of relevant staff, would be handed over to the Election Commission of Pakistan on May 23.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2018