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DSERT tendering for computers draws flak

The decision of the Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) to call for tenders for 15,100 computers for government high schools is drawing flak, as the tender specifications are allegedly designed to favour a private company.

Other companies that manufacture all-in-one desktop computers have written to the department requesting it to change the tender specifications which stipulate that the chipset should be of a particular series. Companies that have written to the department include Acer and Lenovo. The computers are being procured for the government’s ‘[email protected]’ programme.

Letter to CM, Governor

Meanwhile, a not-for-profit organisation, Karnataka Against Corruption, has written to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy as well Governor Vajubhai R. Vala alleging “high-level corruption” in the tender process. It has said that technical specifications for the tender have been prepared in such a manner that only one bidder can qualify. It has also alleged the involvement of Primary and Secondary Education Minister N. Mahesh and two senior bureaucrats.

Following this, a Technical Approval Panel meeting has been called next week.

Sources said leading manufacturers had written to the department stating that they would not be able to participate in the tender. Sources said the terms of the tender had reduced the competition, which will lead to monopoly and products will not be available at a competitive price. Interestingly, the company likely to benefit had earlier requested that the department acquire computers with Q series chipsets, which it would benefit from
,
said the source.

The estimated cost of the tender is Rs. 50 crore and the computers are expected to be distributed to 1,000 schools. The tender was floated in March 2018 and only two companies have bid for it.

A representative of a private company said they had submitted a representation to the department to look into their requests and issue a suitable corrigendum so that the bidders get “equal and fair opportunity”.

Mr. Mahesh refuted the allegations and said he had not even seen the file. “I will ask officials to submit the file and we will have to call for a re-tender if there is a lapse,” he said.

Shalini Rajaneesh, Principal Secretary of the department, was unavailable for response.

I have not seen the file. I will ask officials to submit the file and we will have to call for a re-tender if there is a lapse.

N. Mahesh,Primary and Secondary Education Minister

We had submitted a representation to the department to have a re-look at the tender specifications and issue a suitable corrigendum so that the bidders get equal and fair opportunity to quote for the tender.

Representative of a technology company

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