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CAG slams HRD Ministry on Aakash tablet project

CAG slams HRD Ministry on Aakash tablet project
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CAG on Friday slammed the HRD Ministry for the shortcomings in the Aakash tablet project, raising questions over 'arbitrary' selection of IIT,...

Questions arbitrary selection of IIT-Rajasthan to launch the scheme without assessing project

CAG on Friday slammed the HRD Ministry for the shortcomings in the Aakash tablet project, raising questions over "arbitrary" selection of IIT, Rajasthan to launch the scheme without carrying out an assessment of its capacity to undertake the work.

In its report tabled in Parliament, the government auditor observed that IIT-R had told the Ministry that around 90 per cent of the tablets supplied by Datawind between August and November 2011 were rejected by it due to complaints in the devices such as heating and they being slow.

"The Ministry decided to launch the Aakash through the IIT-R without ascertaining their capacity to undertake the work. This adversely affected the project delivery. It also placed Rs 47.42 crore at IITR disposal without carrying out a prudent assessment," it said.

"This raises issues of financial propriety. This adversely affected the project delivery along with an avoidable expenditure of Rs 1.05 crore," the report said.

Under the Akash tablet project, the government has plans of distributing the low-cost access-cum-computing device (Akash) at a cost of Rs 1,500 or USD 35 to students and teachers for educational purposes. CAG said documents suggest that the Ministry did not provide any justification for selecting IIT-R to execute the order and thus its selection was arbitrary.

"The audit view is further borne out by the fact that IIT Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Bombay and IISC, Bangalore had participated. However, they were overlooked and a relatively new IIT-R was selected ahead of others," it said. CAG said IIT-R was awarded the project when it was operating from a temporary premises but the "important observation of the Finance Division was ignored."

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