KARACHI - The Sindh Cabinet on Saturday decided to install 20,000 day and night vision cameras at 5,776 polling stations to monitor the voting process right from beginning till the end.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sindh Caretaker Chief Minister Fazal-ur-Rehman. All the caretaker cabinet members, Chief Secretary Azam Suleman, Sindh Police Inspector General Amjad Javed Saleemi, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Sohail Rajput, Information Secretary Qazi Shahid Pervez, GA Secretary Zulfiqar Shah, other secretaries concerned and National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) Chairman Taufiq Ahmed attended the meeting.

The chief minister said the last cabinet meeting had approved exemption from the Sindh Public Procurement Rules 2009 for the plan to procure equipment and services for video surveillance system for highly sensitive polling stations.

He said that surveillance of all polling stations was necessary right from the start of the polling process to the end and then counting of votes and sealing of ballot bags. “Since the amount required for procurement of CCTVs and other equipment is very high, I assigned the task to the chief secretary to negotiate with the NRTC so that the entire project can be commissioned at the minimum cost,” he told the cabinet.

Chief Secretary Azam Suleman said that NRTC had given a quote of Rs1 million per CCTV per polling station. “Hence, for 4,154 polling stations the cost stands at Rs4.154 billion,” he said. Later, the home department estimated that cost of CCTVs for 5,000 polling stations will be Rs1.79 billion, he said.

The chief secretary said that in consultation with the chief minister he decided to acquire the CCTV camera system on a rental basis. He said the NRTC came up with a fresh proposal of Rs915 million for 15,000 CCTVs, excluding GST, for 5,000 polling stations. He said that he constituted a four-member committee consisting of General Administration Department Secretary Zulfiqar Shah, Home Secretary Mohammad Haroon, IT secretary, IT director and a representative of the NRTC.

Zulfiqar Shah said during a briefing to the cabinet that after detailed negotiations with NRTC the committee was able to bring down the rate from Rs915 million to Rs575 million, including GST. He said that further concessions were also obtained from the NRTC. The number of sensitive polling stations was increased from 5,000 to 5,776, the number of CCTVs in the negotiated price was increased from 15,000 to 20,000 and 30 percent of all CCTVs and video recorders would become property of the Sindh government after completion of the election process, he said.

NRTC Chairman Taufiq Ahmed through a presentation told the cabinet that 20,000 day and night vision 2MP HD cameras would be installed at 5,776 polling stations and each polling station would have three CCTVs.

He said that there would be 5,776 video recorders (VR-4, IU), 5776 hard disk drives (2 TB each for recording), 5,776 LCD screens and 5776 1KV UPS (with 1x200AH wet battery each).

The cabinet appreciated the efforts of the chief secretary and his team for reducing the cost of the CCTV project.

The cabinet approved the project and the NRTC chairman told the cabinet that the work would be started from July 2. After installation of all cameras, he said, their accessories and other equipment, including backup system and training of the concerned staff, would be handed over to the Election Commission of Pakistan on May 23.