The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday cleared a Tk 3,825.34 crore project to procure 1.5 lakh electronic voting machines (EVMs).
The approval came from the weekly Ecnec meeting held at the NEC conference room here with Ecnec Chair-person and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The project titled 'Procurement, Preservation and Use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) Aiming at Bring-ing More Transparency in the Electoral System' will be implemented by June 2023.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal informed that the Prime Minister said EVMs should initially be used in urban areas limitedly as the number of educated people in cities and towns is higher.
The EVMs should gradually be used across the country, the Prime Minister added.
Sheikh Hasina also stressed the need for making it sure the machines are not misused.
Mustafa Kamal said, "Today, Ecnec approved a total of 14 projects with the total estimated cost of Tk 12,544.94 crore."
Of the total cost, Tk 8,842.33 crore will come from government fund, while Tk 257.01 crore from the own funds of the organizations concerned and Tk 3,445.60 crore as project assistance.
Of the 14 approved projects, there are 11 new projects, while the remaining three are revised ones.
About the EVM project, he said they have taken the project which will be implemented in three phases. "The EVMs (1.5 lakh EVMs) will be procured in three phases."
Replying to a question how many EVMs will be used in the next national election, the minister said the Elec-tion Commission will decide it.
He said the Planning Commission placed the project in an Ecnec meeting conducting a feasibility study over it. "We didn't approve it hurriedly."
The main objectives of the project are to development of democracy through arranging fairer and freer elec-tions; making the vote-casting process transparent, flawless, credible and modern technology-based one; en-hancing the credibility of election results through gradual introduction of 1,50,000 sets of electronic voting machines, providing training to 3,110 different-level officials and employees concerned over the vote-casting through EVM and enhancing public awareness over participation in the electoral process.
About another project titled 'BEPZA Economic Zone, Mirsarai-1st Phase Project' involving the estimated cost of Tk 750.59 crore, the minister said the Prime Minister gave directives that the drainage system of the eco-nomic zone must be made in a scientific way and its central effluent treatment plant (CETP) must be run cen-trally.
The 12 other approved projects are Establishment of Sheikh Hasina Tantpalli (1st phase) project with an esti-mated cost of Tk 253.30 crore; Upgrading Hathazari-Raojan part of Chattogram-Rangamati National Highway into Four-Lane project with Tk 528.45 crore; Widening and Strengthening Jamalpur-Madarganj Road (3rd revised) project with Tk 128.45 crore; Infrastructure Construction and Development of Narayanganj City Cor-poration project with Tk 461.26 crore; Construction of Railway Line between Chilahati and Chilahati Border aiming to Set up Railway Link with India project with Tk 80.17 crore; and Establishment of Agricultural Re-search Centre of BARI in Gopalganj and Development of Agriculture Strengthening Environment-Ecology-Befitting Research Activities in the country's Southwestern Region project with Tk 157 crore.
The remaining projects are Barishal-Patuakhali-Bhola-Jhalakathi-Barguna-Madaripur and Shariatpur Agricul-ture Development project with Tk 111.91 crore; Gopalganj-Khulna-Bagerhat-Satkhira-Pirojpur Agriculture Development project with Tk 82.65 crore; Establishment of BCS Economic Academy project (2nd revised) with Tk 257.98 crore; Relocation of Bangladesh Betar from Shahbagh Complex to Agargaon, Construction and Modernisation (1st phase) project (3rd revised) with Tk 113.15 crore; Improvement of Drainage System to remove water-logging in Khulna City project with Tk 823.79 crore; and Program for Supporting Rural Bridges project with Tk 4,971 crore.
Tk 3,825.34 crore approved to procure EVMs