Madhya Pradesh has turned third time lucky by managing to find a company to supply smartphones costing Rs 2,500 each -- after failing twice to finish tender process to distribute the devices among undergraduate students.
According to department sources, 3.75 lakh smart phones will be distributed to regular students of academic year 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 from April this year.
Madhya Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (MPSEDC) Limited has completed the bidding process.
Department of higher education commissioner Umakant Umrapo said, “All procedures have been completed. Phones will be distributed soon.”
Since Bhartiya Janta Party’s (BJP) came to power in 2013, the government has been trying to keep a promise made during state assembly elections in the year that they will provide smartphones to promote e-learning.
Bidding started in September 2014 but remained incomplete in the absence of bidders. During the second time, the process of inviting tenders completed but neither the company winning the bid was well established nor did it have service centres at all district headquarters. The government also tried to provide money to students but chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan stuck to distributing the phones.
Later, at a meeting of Higher Education Department in January 2016, the government set an April, 2016 deadline to complete distribution of phones, to be given to students with 75% attendance in class.
Higher education minister Uma Shankar Gupta said, “We are happy that the process is on the verge of completion. The smart phones will be distributed to students at a function in April.”