In a major setback to the Uttar Pradesh governments ambitious free tablet distribution scheme,not a single bidder turned up as the last date to submit tender passed on Monday.
It has been a year since the government started the process of procurement for 26.62 lakh students who had passed class 10 in 2011-12 academic year. Now,the biggest problem for the government is that another batch of 28.86 lakh students have passed class 10 on June 8 this year,raising the total number of those entitled to tablets to 55.48 lakh.
Sources said that one of the main reasons for lack of response from the bidders was the failure of the state government to reply to their queries and requests raised during the pre-bid meeting about two months ago.
Now the bid will be considered as lapsed and government will float a fresh tender. But the government will have to decide whether the fresh tender would be for procurement of only 26.62 lakh tablets for the previous academic year students or for 55.48 lakh tablets. As a fresh process will start all over again,it would mean further delay of at least two to three months for the scheme,which is already running a year behind schedule.
This is not for the first time that the tender for purchase of tablet computers has been cancelled. Earlier this year,the government had cancelled the tender because out of three companies (HP,HCL and Acer) that had applied then,only HCL was able to provide a sample tablet for test.
However,in the present case,interested bidders had requested for relaxation in the bidding criteria,especially where they were asked to give the commitment for opening service centres in 313 tehsils,with engineers and technical staff. Over 350 queries and requests were made by the interested developers during the pre-bid conference in April and the government was supposed to give a reply at least seven days before the last date for submission of bid. Two months on,the state government failed to reply.
We could not give a reply to the companies in time. There were about 350 queries raised by about 15 participants in the previous pre-bid meet about two months ago. But,that is no longer a problem because technically if no bidder turns up for the tender then it is regarded as lapsed. Thus,now state government will have to float a fresh tender and the entire process will begin again, said a government officer.
Among other qualification criteria,only those bidders were allowed to participate who had an annual turnover of at least Rs 1,100 crore for three consecutive years. Moreover,the selected bidder was expected to open service centres at the tehsil level within 30 days of signing the agreement with the government. The selected bidder was also expected to develop a software where entire data about repair and maintenance could be uploaded online from these tehsil-level service centres.
All this work had to be undertaken along with meeting the timeline set by the state government from the first 5 per cent of the supply in the first 60 days to meeting the entire supply deadline within 240 days of signing the agreement.