Lucknow: Taking a step towards providing free laptops and tablets to students who have passed class X and XII, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has formed a committee to oversee their purchase and subsequent implementation of his Samajwadi Party`s poll promise.
The committee, headed by chief secretary Jawwed Usmani, would be entering into detailed negotiations with Information Technology (IT) majors and try to "get the best deal" for the state. The high-powered committee, other than the chief secretary, would have nine principal secretaries, including those of Information, Finance, IT, Planning, and Higher Education besides secretary (Secondary Education), among others.
The committee would first be inviting proposals for the supply of some 47 lakh tablets and laptops and would then hold discussions to scale down the prices, since the poll sop of the Samajwadi Party (SP) is likely to bear a price tag of Rs.4,555 crore. The number of class XII students in the state is pegged at 18.19 lakh while the number of class X students is 28.14 lakh.
The government, at the highest level, has already explored the possibility of procurement of laptops and tablets with IT major HCL whose chairman Shiv Nadar and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav have already held "preliminary parleys" on the matter, an official said.
While the IT giant has expressed its willingness to supply the required number of laptops and tablets to the state, the government wants to "explore the market" further.
"The chief minister has made it amply clear that we need to go for competitive bidding and to get the best and cheapest and we are working in that direction." Secretary Secondary Education Partha Sarthi Sen Sharma, a member of the committee which is overseeing the implementation of the ambitious project, told IANS that the work was "underway in right earnest and right direction".
Sources say that the state government is working on a time-bound schedule and that the tablets and laptops might begin to roll out sometime around September. "It is a massive exercise, right from procurement, stocking to distribution and it will definitely take some time," an official said. The chief minister is learnt to be monitoring the project directly.