BENGALURU: A House committee of the Legislative Council, constituted to probe alleged irregularities in the free laptop scheme of the state government, has found procedural lapses in drawing up specifications. The committee met on Tuesday and pored over documents for about four-and-half hours.
Documents available with the committee show that the higher education minister approved a file on the specifications for laptops which was not what was suggested by the Technical Approval Panel (TAP). “The specifications finalised by the department are completely different from the specifications laid down by the TAP, which is a clear violation. If you want to frame your own specifications, what is the need of having a TAP?” questioned a senior MLC who is also part of the panel.
The TAP had recommended giving laptops with Intel core i3- 6006U/A8-7410 processors, but the government decided to provide Intel Pentium/AMD A4 laptops for both technical and non-technical students.
“The department officials requested that they be allowed to call for tenders as the classes have already started and the distribution of laptops would be delayed further. But the committee said it will not permit that till its final report. Technically, they are not wrong because tenders have not yet been called. But there are procedural lapses,” the panel members pointed out.
Senior IAS officer Ajay Nagabhushan, who, as commissioner in the Collegiate Education department, had raised objections over the issue, was also present before the committee. Some of the committee members questioned the officer why he had filed a report to the Chief Secretary. To this, Nagabhushan replied that he was only bringing the issue to the notice of his senior authorities, some of the members said.
Another finding of the committee is that the government had deputed a teacher from a government degree college to handle these file. “When there is the under-secretary, deputy secretary and commissioner, why did they depute a teaching faculty?,” a member questioned.
Interestingly, the higher education minister has approved a file on the proceedings of the TAP meeting dated July 6, 2017, but no meeting was held on that date.The House committee is scheduled to meet again on December 12 and has asked the department to submit all files on communications regarding the laptop scheme.