Assam approves replacing paper ballots with EVMs during GMC polls

Assam approves replacing paper ballots with EVMs during GMC polls

The Assam government has approved the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) (Amendment) Bill 2022, which calls for electronic voting machines (EVMs) to replace paper ballots in elections to ensure transparency and efficiency.

On Monday, the Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, presided over a cabinet meeting that made this decision. It also gave its approval to the final publication of the GMC elections (Amendment) Rules, 2022.

Taking to Twitter, Sarma wrote, “At today’s #AssamCabinet, we took several important decisions pertaining to repealing of obsolete laws, revision of land premium rates, ease of doing business, ensuring the safety of workers, empowering law enforcers, raising loan from NABARD, transparency in GMC polls, etc.”

The concept of EVMs is to bring transparency in the GMC polls so that it could prevent obstacles in the election system.

The concept of a revenue town was abolished as part of the state cabinet’s major decisions. For the purposes of land revenue, all revenue towns will now be treated as rural areas.

“Except the district headquarters and a few other important towns, the periphery of all other towns will be treated as a rural area and land premium, etc, will be fixed as per notified rates of rural area.” – reads a bulletin tweeted by the Assam CM.

Further, it also stated that no trade license will be required for the operation of any commercial establishment, with the exception of brick kilns, liquor stores, hospitals, schools, and other polluting industries.

In addition, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will lend Rs 142 crores for the continuation of projects sanctioned under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF)-XXVII in the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Elementary Education, and Irrigation Departments for better financial management.

The cabinet also decided to pass the Assam Taxation (Liquidation of Arrear Dues) (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which will extend incentives provided under the Assam Taxation (Liquidation of Arrear Dues) Act, 2005 to ensure revenue collection efficiency.

“Creation of Grants and renaming of existing Grants of Budget, under which 19 existing grants will be renamed and the number of grants to be raised from 78 to 80 in respect of Budget Estimates.” – add the bulletin.

Meanwhile, the Assam Contingency Fund (Augmentation of Corpus) Bill, 2022 aims to permanently increase the Contingency Fund’s corpus from Rs 200 crores to Rs 2000 crores to meet unforeseen events such as natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the cabinet has also guaranteed several provisions under the Assam Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Rules, 2022, in order to ensure workers’ working conditions and safety.

According to the bulletin, all employees must have a single online registration on the department’s official websites, with registration certificates, generated automatically. Every worker over the age of 40 is required to undergo an annual medical examination.

Every employee must receive an appointment letter as well as the required identification cards. Employees must use a grievance reporting mechanism to inform the employer/Safety Officer of any unsafe or unhealthy conditions in the workplace. 

In addition, every establishment employing 100 or more workers must form a Safety Committee composed of representatives from both employers and employees.

Meanwhile, the Assam Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2022, was also approved by the cabinet to strengthen law enforcement agencies in the fight against intoxicants.

As a result, one of the goals associated with its approval is to empower police officers to investigate violations of the Assam Excise Act 2000 by amending Section 42. 

By amending Section 69, Police Officers will be able to report to a magistrate to take cognizance of offences under Sections 53, 54, 55, 61, or 61-B of the Assam Excise Act, 2000.

As per the Assam Excise Repealing Bill, 2022 approved for improving ease of doing business in the Excise Department, the following obsolete acts will be repealed. These incorporate – The Assam Ganja and Bhang Prohibition Act, 1958; The Assam Opium Smoking Act, 1927; The Assam Opium Amendment Act, 1933; The Assam Opium Prohibition Act, 1947; The Assam Opium Amendment (Autonomous Districts) Act, 1954; The Assam Temperance Act, 1926.

However, following the enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the Assam Borstal Institution Act, 1968, and the Assam Children Act, 1970 will be repealed.

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