Cost bug hits tech edu dept software purchase plan

The software proposed to be purchased is meant to be used as a perpetual network simulator for wireless technologies including, multimedia and enterprise library, developer library and wireless library.

The department of technical education has landed itself in a soup with its decision to purchase software by paying Rs 52 lakh per college, even as a similar software is available in the market at a much lower price and also for free in the open source. The software is proposed to be purchased for 11 engineering colleges, taking the total expenditure to Rs 5.50 crore.

This software is meant to be used as a perpetual network simulator for wireless technologies including, multimedia and enterprise library, developer library and wireless library.

The syllabus prescribed by Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) provides details about the software which can be used for lab experiments at undergraduate engineering courses.

The copy of the syllabus prescribed by the VTU reads:  “Part A- Simulation Experiment can be taught using NS2/NS3/OPNET/NCTUNS/ NetSlim/Qualnet or any other equivalent tool.” But, the department has chosen a particular software from the above-given options. It is also learnt that some officials within the department have also raised objections on spending Rs 52 lakh per college on software.

The department had sent a communication to the principals of all government engineering colleges to elicit their opinion on the proposal.

Interestingly, the software which, the department has proposed to purchase, is available in open source with a life-time licence and some principals had opined that it would be a sheer waste of funds. Sri Krishnarajendra Silver Jubilee Technological Institute, a government college in Bengaluru, had purchased this software in 2013 by paying Rs 6.88 lakh and has been still using the same. The principals of various colleges reportedly sought to know the reason for the department planning to shell out ten times the said sum.

A principal of a government engineering college told DH on condition of anonymity that while the department ignores request for funds to improve basic infrastructure at colleges, it was planning to purchase a software shelling out Rs 52 lakh. “We could improve the infrastructure at the colleges with the same money,” the principal said.

However, when contacted, Higher Education Minister G T Deve Gowda told DH that a call on the proposal would be taken after the model code of conduct comes to an end.

“It has come to my notice that colleges in some states have been using the same software - purchased for Rs 40 lakh - 45 lakh. I do not know the exact cost at which the officials propose to purchase the software as I am yet to receive the proposal. But, I have directed officials to study the system in other states,” the minister said.

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