Soon after the Madhya Pradesh government announced the scheme of providing smartphones as a gift to students getting enrolled in government colleges, the initiative has run into a controversy as the students are alleging that the phones distributed in the second phase are substandard. As per a report by the Indian Express, this scheme, announced by the state government is for students who maintained 75 per cent attendance in college. The Forstar Amosta 3G5 smartphones given to the first batch of students were working fine, but some of the handsets of the second batch have various complaints including low memory, overheating and malfunctioning touchpad.
When the number of complaints regarding the same reached 300, the MP State Electronic Development Corporation (MPSEDC) has put a halt to the distribution of the remaining 2.45 lakh handsets unless they get an approval from the chief minister’s office (CMO). The report also stated that till now around 1.30 lakh students have got the smartphone, most in rural areas. However, the MSEDC has claimed that rival companies who lost the tender bid are behind the controversy and even said that the number of complaints are negligible.
The tender was auctioned July 2016 and was bagged by Hyderabad-based Karvy Data Management Services Ltd for suppy of around 3.75 lakh handsets with a per unit cost of Rs 2,159.75. However, the selection process was later questioned by Vichar Madhya Pradesh (VMP), an organisation formed by RTI activist and former member of AAP claiming that a company with zero turnover won the contract.
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When asked to put their stand on the allegations, KDMSL sent Indian Express a response signed by Srinivas Varma Pematsa, who looks after e-governance of the company. The letter read: “No tender condition was circumvented,” KDMSL signed the MSA during November 2016 for supply and distribution of 3.75 lakh smart phones, out of which 1.45 lakh have already been distributed… The smartphones are as per the specifications provided in the tender.”
Further explaining the lack of memory and hanging defects, the company said, “It’s a matter of perception with regard to the device specifications and nothing to do with quality of product supplied. All smartphones heat up marginally if used while being charged or multiple applications are opened simultaneously.”