EC seeks poll security expenditure estimate from home ministry

Kathmandu, April 10

The Election Commission has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to furnish details of expenditure it estimates to make on security arrangements for the local level elections slated for May 14.

The poll panel stated that security spending during elections was a matter of public concern and details of expenditure had been sought to check possible irregularities.

The EC had sought a budget of Rs 10.3 billion for the local level elections, while the MoHA has estimated over Rs 30 billion for security arrangements for the elections.

“We’ve asked MoHA to submit details of the estimated security spending,” EC Commissioner Sudhir Shah told THT. According to him, the EC is concerned about possible irregularities in poll security funds and is keen to adopt measures to check the same.

Shah said the EC had sought details of spending from MoHA Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi during security briefing.  Representatives of all security agencies — Nepali Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department  — were present in the security briefing held on Saturday at the EC’s central office.

The EC, which held a meeting with security agencies thrice in the past, had also discussed operational security plan approved by the Central Security Committee headed by Minister for Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi. During the discussion, EC commissioners had also inquired about the integrated security plan. They had also sought the list of sensitive and highly sensitive rural-municipalities and municipalities from the security perspective.

In an earlier meeting with representatives of security agencies, commissioners had inquired about possible cross-border infiltration during election. They had asked MoHA secretary to direct chief district officers of Tarai districts to communicate and coordinate with their counterparts in adjoining districts in India. EC commissioners had also inquired about security conferences MoHA was holding across the country. “We asked them why they did not invite EC commissioners to security conferences,” said Shah. He said the EC asked security agencies not to hold security conferences without EC representatives.

Commissioner Shah said Nepali Army, which will be mobilised in the third ring outside Nepal Police and APF, would ensure psychological security to voters throughout the country. “NA’s deployment strategy will be determined by the security condition of respective polling station,” said Shah, adding that the army could be mobilised in the second or first ring if the situation deteriorated.

MoHA said Nepal Police would provide security in the first ring, APF would be mobilised in the second circle and NA in the third in polling stations where the situation was normal.