The government may scrap bids for the latest version of the Aakash tablet as none of the vendors, short-listed by the previous UPA government, were able to meet the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s technological specifications.
Aakash was launched by former HRD minister Kapil Sibal as the world’s cheapest access device under the National Mission on Education in 2010 with the initial price tag of about US $ 35.
Soon after the launch, questions over quality of the device were raised and a technical committee was constituted under Rajat Moona of IIT-Bombay to evolve specifications for next generation of Aakash.
The tender for Aakash IV tablet was put out by the government’s procurement arm the Director General of Supplies and Disposals and eleven models were submitted by 10 vendors in January 2014.
Five were short-listed but none of the samples met the specifications. With the last UPA government keen on the Aakash tablets, conditional certificates — that new samples should meet the specifications — were issued to all vendors and they were asked to submit bids by mid March 2014.
The new samples again failed to meet the specifications.
According to government sources, the technical committee had, on a ministry proposal, suggested relaxation of some of the specifications to meet the technological handicaps including —the tablets not having webcam, 3G modems and upgraded hard drive.
“We may go for re-bidding for five million Aakash tablets as relaxing the tenders can be highly controversial. The government prefers to start on a clean slate and we have recommended re-bidding,” a senior government functionary said.
The final decision in this regard is likely to the taken by the Prime Minister’s Office.