Fire at EC office damages EVMs earmarked for Rangpur poll

Dhaka, Sept 9 – The fire at the Election Bhaban has damaged a large number of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which were meant to be used in the upcoming Rangpur-3 by-election on October 5.Though Election Commission (EC) said the fire could not cause huge damage but still it has not been possible to estimate.
However, EC sources said the loss of the EVM machines would be below one thousand. But the real scenario would come after the investigation, sources said.
EC sources said there were about four thousand equipments of EVM at the site of the fire incident.
In order to ascertain the damage, a probe committee has been formed to probe into the loss of equipments including EVMs and the committee would submit the report within three days.
National Identity Registration Division Director General Brig Gen Mohammad Saidul Islam told the journalists yesterday: “Right now it cannot be said whether the damage of the EVM by fire would affect the Rangpur-3. We can say about it after investigation.”
“We would try to use EVM in the by-election. We have all our preparations. We would present all information about the loss before the commission. EC would decide on it,” he added.
However, EC’s additional secretary Md Mokhlesur Rahman said, “There would be no problem for holding Rangpur-3 by-election with the existing EVM.”
About the fire incidents at the basement of the Bhaban at around 11pm on Sunday and came under control at around 12:25am, Saidul Islam said the loss caused by the fire is insignificant.
“The loss of EVM is insignificant. The ballot unit, monitor, control unit of the EVM has not been much affected as we had apprehended,” he added.
He said the quick work of the fire services had made it possible to contain the fire quickly.
Asked about a query of how many EMVs were at the place of fire incident, he said, “We will inform you later. The EVMs were kept at different places for the use in the election of Union Parishad and eight Upazila Parishad.”
EC said some of the Air conditions at the basement were damaged along with some papers.
After the inauguration of the 11-storied Nirbachan Bhaban at Agargaon on 31 December in 2016, this is the first fire incident.
EC said that from their preliminary observation, the fire was caused by electric short-circuit.
Concerned persons said regular inspection of the fire safety equipments and electrical equipments is necessary to avert such fire incident.
Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder said the probe body formed by EC will identify the origin of fire and the estimate the loss caused by the fire. Bedsides, the committee would recommend what steps can be taken to avert such incident in future, he added.
Besides, another committed has been formed by the fire service and civil defence to report on fire incident and loss. – Staff Reporter