EPIC move to get City's homeless on electoral rolls

Complaints of deletion of names from the voters’ list and residents not being able to avail themselves of EPIC card are problems the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the citizens are trying to deal with similar magnitude.

While the Palike’s ‘inability’ to resolve them, coupled with other political interests, continues to worry the civic society, parallelly, the BBMP revenue officers and election registration officers (EROs) are busy with another project.

Following the directions from Vishal, a special officer from the Election Commission of India (ECI) deputed at the BBMP, revenue officers and EROs, in the last 15 days have been busy vetting details of several homeless people seeking to participate in the election process.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Vishal said: “It is a herculean task to find details of the homeless and, to authenticate it is a bigger problem. But, the priority is to provide as many of them as possible an opportunity to cast their votes.”

Stating that over 50 applications have already been received from such people, he said: “The difficulty is that we need to do multiple checks to verify if they really stay in the City and, it is extremely time consuming. But, I hope that this will be taken forward in the coming years too. Soon we will have most of them on the electoral rolls.”

The officials have found it difficult to identify the real place of residence of such people.

“In some cases, the application has come from Shivajinagar, where the person works. But, he sleeps under the flyover in KR Market. In such cases, it becomes difficult to ascertain where they are from,” another official said.

ECI guidelines

Vishal pointed out that the ECI guidelines on this matter is very clear. “We cannot deny the EPIC card to anybody who applies for it as long as there is proof of domicile.

We have issued the identity cards to nomads in places such as Gulbarga. The procedures here cannot be more complex, but it certainly is a huge task,” he said.
Vishal further said that there is a need for some honest NGOs without political agenda working with the homeless to take an initiative.

“Such people do not have a  voices and unfortunately, in a system like ours, even crying babies do not get enough attention, so you can imagine them. An EPIC card is important as it not only allows them to participate in the election process, but also gives them an identity. This is as important as being able to vote,” he said.
Meeting

Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), an NGO working with the homeless in the City had met Vishal about 15 days ago to discuss the issue. After the meeting, he directed his officials to register such people.

He also said that applications are also being received from those taking shelter at the Palike’s seven night shelters.

“Authentication becomes a little more easy in these cases as they come back to the
shelter every day,” an official said.

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