TIRUCHY: The intention of the State government of distributing laptops free of cost to higher secondary students to make them tech-savvy is coming a cropper as several students are selling them allegedly to pay college fees. As a result, computer sales and service centres in the city are making a killing selling these laptops at exorbitant prices. A visit to Singarathoppu, the one-stop-shop for all goods, allows one to understand how many students have sold their laptops. Not all students resort to this to meet college and travel expenses. There are a few who sold laptops to splurge on consumer goods or nights out.
A shop owner in the locality requesting anonymity said, “We have a laptop ready for sale. A college student approached us seeking money to pay fees for the next semester. We are helping him get some money by selling his laptop.” The laptop is being sold for Rs 8,000 and the shop owner said the price cannot be reduced as they have to give three-fourths of the money to the student. “People approach us with free laptops in exchange of money. What can we do?” the shop owner said. Though selling free laptops is illegal, the trade is flourishing.
A shop in Thillai Nagar had laptops of both old and new versions distributed by the government. The price is fixed as per the system configuration. “We deal with all laptop varieties. People usually come searching for laptops as they are affordable and have good specifications. Older versions of laptops are sold for Rs 7,000 and new ones for Rs 11,000,” the shop owner said. Students from Thogamalai and Allithurai could be spotted at the shops to sell their laptops. The headmaster of a government school admitted that once students receive laptops from the School Education department, most of them sell them off. “There is a slight delay in distributing laptops to students. Thus, the Class XII pass out gets the laptop only after entering college. By that time, they would have bought a gadget for their studies. The reason for selling laptops could be to make extra money to help meet expenses,” he said.
An official with the district education office said 90 per cent of students do not sell the laptops. “To stop other students from selling the government-issued laptops, we could instruct all city-based computer service centres to not accept them. We could also warn them that if they violate this rule, they would be penalised," said the official.