Something seems to have cast a dark spell on Samajwadi Party government’s poll promise of distributing free laptops to students in Uttar Pradesh. Everyone now knows that Akhilesh Yadav government has failed to pay nearly Rs 900 crore to Hewiett-Packard for the supply of 5 lakh laptops. But it has failed to give away the free laptops to students. According to the Times of India, “Nearly four months after the Samajwadi Party government started distributing free laptops to students in line with Akhilesh Yadav’s poll promise, over 4.4 lakh devices worth over Rs 830 crore still lie in government godowns.” It further says that these laptops are very much exposed to dirt and rain water because the chief minister struggles to get time to distribute them himself. It is learnt that the chief minister has so far distributes only 79000 laptops to students.
The matter is far more serious, not because the government has not distributed the laptops but because the government owes Rs 900 crore for laptops which are grabbing dust and are exposed to rainwater. The matter came to light when seepage of rainwater into a godown in Lakhimpur Kheri last month, damaged 75 laptops, prompting the officials to get into a huddle to discuss storage and expedite distribution.
The government is not able to store laptops, since there is lack of storage space in districts and tehsils. The Times of India has quoted the government source, “After the government tied up with Hewlett-Packard to supply laptops, the manufacturer was given a seven-month distribution period in which the computers had to be supplied. Their rate of delivery, however, far exceeded the rate of distribution. This led to a problem of plenty.”
Currently HP has a storage capacity in the state of over 2 lakh laptops. But its inventory is already full, making storage appear as a big challenge. What adds to the woes is the ill-equipped facilities in districts and tehsils where monsoon water seeps in and poses a challeges to the safety of equipments.
The government needs to pay attention to swift distribution of laptops stored in its godowns, and also ensure that it pays the supplier its dues well in time. Otherwise a poll promise will take much time to turn into a pain point.