New Delhi: With voting day in South Indian state of Tamil Nadu less than a week away, EC-appointed black money surveillance teams have seized Rs880 million cash from the state, the maximum among the five election-bound states from where a whopping Rs1.47 billion has been seized till now.

A total seizure of Rs882.2 million has been made in Tamil Nadu, as per latest Election Commission data, which is four times more than what has been seized in the second ranking state on the tally — South Indian state of Kerala at Rs225.4 million.

Puducherry, the Union Territory that goes to polls on May 16 along with Tamil Nadu and Kerala, has reported a small seizure of Rs35 million.

The cash seizures in East Indian states of West Bengal and Assam, where polls have ended, stand at Rs207.5 million and Rs123.3 million respectively.

“The total progressive figure for cash seizures in the poll-bound states is Rs1.47 billion. In some cases, the cash is being released after ascertaining the bona fide and legitimate purpose of the cash,” a senior Income Tax department official said.

The official said the tax department along with enforcement teams of other agencies have deployed a strict vigil in Tamil Nadu to keep a check on usage of illegal inducements and cash and every week over a dozen special search operations are being carried out in this regard.

The 234-seat Assembly of the state will go to polls in a single phase on May 16.

A total of 702 flying squads and 712 surveillance teams are operating in the state for curbing the use of black money at the hustings, according to the latest data.

Keeping in view the abuse of money power in Tamil Nadu, the EC last month had also issued some special instructions to be followed by observers and members of the surveillance teams deployed in the state.

The Commission had sought a “stepped up vigil” across Tamil Nadu to detect and intercept all such instances of illegal cash and other inducements being used to lure voters and ensure that a level playing field is maintained.

The counting of votes in all the five states is slated for May 19.

The Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 4 after the Commission had announced the schedule for the Assembly polls from here.