Home STATE Free laptop scheme in limbo as depts fight over distribution rights

Free laptop scheme in limbo as depts fight over distribution rights

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 21:

Two years after its launch, the distribution of free laptops to meritorious students in Odisha under the state youth policy is caught in a tug of war between the IT and Higher Education departments. As many as 15,203 students are yet to receive laptops for the previous years.

Pic Courtesy: newsodisha.in
Pic Courtesy: newsodisha.in

As per highly placed sources, after distribution of a little less than 15, 000 laptops in 2013 when the scheme was launched, the delivery was mired in the fight over its distribution between IT and Higher Education departments. While the IT department insisted on procuring and distributing laptops under the scheme, the Higher Education department stressed that it would take care of its procurement and distribution as the students belonged to its department.

“Laptops have not been distributed in the last two years due to the tussle between the IT and Higher Education departments over their distribution. As of now, it has been decided that the IT department would distribute the laptops. 15, 203 laptops for 2014 will be given to the students who passed out that year. We will be getting the list of meritorious students for 2015 academic year by July 31 which will be forwarded to the IT department. We don’t know then they will distribute them. The tenders for supply of laptops were invited late. It is now for the department to decide when they will distribute them for the current year,” a senior official of Higher Education department said.

Notably, 14, 797 laptops were distributed among meritorious student in the inaugural year and the remaining 203 computers for that year were to be distributed in 2014.

With the two departments not budging from their stands, laptop distribution was discontinued raising resentment among the students and their parents.

The matter reached Chief Minister, who decided that the Higher Education department would prepare the list of meritorious students and make necessary budgetary allocation towards this. Likewise, the IT department would float tenders for procuring the laptops and distribute it within a stipulated time.

Interestingly, the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) is asked for the list of meritorious students every year.

After receiving complaints from the parents of students, the Higher Education department has asked Odisha Computer Application Centre (OCAC) to distribute laptops to the shortlisted candidates. Besides, it has also asked the CHSE to provide a list of 15, 000 meritorious students under various categories. As per the guidelines, the students eligible in the general category are: 3, 500 (Arts), 5, 000 (Science), 1, 500 (Commerce), and 100 (Vocational education). In the reserved category:  2, 500 (Arts), 2, 000 (Science), 500 (Commerce) and 100 (Vocational education).

Now, the state government has decided to give laptops to 15, 000 students from 2014 and the left out 203 students from 2013.

Leading computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard (HP) will be supplying 15,203 laptops for 2014-15 as it clinched the Rs 30-crore contract from the Odisha government. The government had awarded the contract for 2013-14 to Acer.

It may be recalled that the poll-bound Odisha government had announced free distribution of laptops to meritorious students in June 2013, a year ahead of the twin elections.

The scheme was launched under Biju Yuva Shashaktikaran Yojana, an initiative under the Odisha Youth Policy of 2013. The doling out of laptops was estimated to cost Rs 30 crore to the state exchequer.

With this, Odisha had joined the league of states like Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan which had floated similar schemes to distribute laptops and tablet PCs to students.

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