LUCKNOW: Though the free laptop scheme of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav took off recently, a year since he came to power, the government is still finding it difficult to finalise vendors for the free tablet scheme.
The government started distribution of free laptops, supplied by HP which was selected after a global competitive bid, in March this year. While the distribution of laptops to class XII passouts remains slow, the free tablet scheme for Class X pass outs is yet to take off.
Earlier this year, three companies – Acer, HCL and HP – had submitted bids for supplying 26.62 lakh tablets to the UP government. The government then set the deadline of March 2, for these companies to submit test reports. “But Acer and HP backed out, leaving only HCL in the fray”, said UP Electronic Corporation MD Prabhat Mittal.
This has left the government in a quandry as to the next step to take, as on one hand it wanted multiple suppliers to compete for the bid so as to ensure transparency and on the other it grappled with weak participation by IT hardware manufacturers leading to the procurement process being delayed on several occasions in the past.
The process started in November last year when the government asked for technical bids from tablet manufacturers, but no company turned up by the deadline of January 7. The deadline was then extended to January 25, 2013 which resulted in three companies Acer, HP and HCL submitting their bids. As the next step, the government asked the three firms to submit test reports of their tablets from certified government agencies by March 2. But only HCL submitted its report and Acer and HP bowed out from the race. Incidentally, HP is supplying 15 lakh laptops to the state government but has shied away from the tablet procurement process as of now.
The state government has now once again extended the deadline till June this year and is expecting all three firms to submit their reports. All that means that more than 26 lakh class X pass out students would have to wait some more time before they get their free tablets.
The free tablet and laptop promise by the Samajwadi Party in the run up to the 2012 assembly polls, was the brain child of Akhilesh Yadav which propelled him to victory and the chief minister’s chair in March last year. But the huge size of the order has seen manufacturers shying away from the procurement process.
While the state government proposes to purchase 26.62 lakh tablets, it has already selected HP for the supply of 15 lakh laptops at a cost of Rs 2,858 crore.
Source-Times of india