House panel gives green signal to go ahead with free laptop scheme

House panel gives green signal to go ahead with free laptop scheme

Free laptops will reach undergraduate and diploma students just before the Assembly election next year.

The government has started the process of procuring 1.49 lakh laptops. The process of distributing over 30,000 laptops purchased last year for SC/ST students is underway.

A House committee looking into lapses in the procurement of laptops recently allowed the government to go ahead with the process, officials said.

"We have started the tender process for procuring laptops for 2017-18 and to distribute laptops that were procured in 2016-17," principal secretary (higher education) Jawaid Akhtar said.

In his 2017-18 budget, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced free laptops for 1.5 lakh engineering, medical, polytechnic and first grade college students at an estimated cost of Rs 300 crore. The scheme was earlier restricted to college students from SC/ST communities.

The department of collegiate education has invited bids for supply of 1,49,950 laptops across four divisions - Bengaluru (57,050), Mysuru (44,100), Belagavi (26,500) and Kalaburagi (22,300). The last date for bidding is February 5.

The exterior of the laptop and bag that each student gets will come with the Government of Karnataka logo and the name of the scheme printed on it.

Post-delivery inspection is going on for laptops that were purchased last year for SC/ST students, an official said.

Legislative Council chairman D H Shankaramurthy had asked the House committee to consider allowing the government to distribute laptops already purchased so that students could make use of them. The House panel, headed by Congress MLC K C Kondaiah, was constituted after MLCs flagged irregularities in the free laptop scheme in the recent Belagavi legislature session.

With the laptop scheme underway, the plan to provide 'laboratory toolkits' to every SC/ST student in state-run engineering and polytechnic colleges is likely to gather steam. The department of technical education was going slow on the toolkit scheme after the laptop scheme ran into controversy.

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