Gujarat: Indian firm's e-tablets fail quality test, NAMO scheme delayed again

Gujarat: Indian firm’s e-tablets fail quality test, NAMO scheme delayed again
© Provided by The Indian Express

The Gujarat government’s project to provide NAMO e-tablets to undergraduate students has been delayed further after the devices manufactured by an Indian company failed the quality checks. More than 72,000 students who had registered for the project and paid the token amount of Rs 1,000 at the beginning of the 2020-21 academic session are waiting for their tablets.

When the scheme was launched in 2016-17, two companies — Acer and Lenovo — were selected, however, till last year only Lenovo was supplying the tablets.  The government changed it later to an Indian brand, delaying the project for the first time.

However, the first lot of nearly 50,000 tablets produced by the Indian firm — Lava International — failed quality test, making it impossible for the government to go ahead with the distribution to over 72,000 registered students who are now second year undergraduate students.

First year students will get the tablets only after this backlog is cleared.

Lava International got the contract in August after tenders issued three-four times failed to generate good response and meet the technical specifications.

Also from Gujarat |Gujarat government approves post of visiting teachers to overcome shortage

Sources in the education department confirmed the delay with a senior official saying on condition of anonymity, “Among the technical specifications, including speed, memory, battery back-up, screen and component checks, the lot has failed in two-three major specifications. Since this is a politically sensitive issue, everyone is keeping quiet.”

In August, due to political pressure and opposition allegations over the delay, the Gujarat government had assured to clear the backlog within a month to coincide with five years celebrations of Vijay Rupani government.

Former education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama had told The Indian Express then that the delay was due to the government’s insistence on “Make In India” and that the process of distribution would start soon for the pending students and as well as the new admissions after awarding the tender to an Indian manufacturer.

Officials in the education department revealed that with advancement in technology over four years since the scheme was launched, specifications were upgraded. The tablets were claimed to be with improved specifications, including eight-inch screen and microprocessing with enhanced RAM. The market value of the tablet is expected to be between Rs 12,000 and Rs 14,000.

The scheme was launched in 2017-’18 where the state government announced handing tablets at a price of Rs 1,000 each against the claimed market price of Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 to all students who had cleared Class 12 in academic year 2016-’17 and were pursuing degree or diploma courses in the state.

In the first year, the state government made an allocation of over Rs 150 crore in the budget for the scheme. Two companies — Acer and Lenovo, were shortlisted through the tendering process. However, only Lenovo was supplying tablets to the state government till last year with an increased budget of around Rs 200 crore. More than three lakh students are to be given the tablets at a token price of Rs 1,000 each year.

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