Elected representatives in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had been in a hurry to launch the popular scheme of making the poor computer literate through mobile training centres with an aim to garner voter support and also name it after their leader, Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar. However, five years after the scheme was launched, the civic administration is struggling to continue it, with three of the six mobile vans with computer infrastructure lying idle at the vehicle depot.
In 2008, the NCP-led alliance in the PMC launched the Sharad Mobile Computer Training Scheme in the city. Each van costing Rs 20 lakh has 14 computers installed for training 28 people at a time. The idea was to reach out to poor citizens, who are unable to afford the fees for computer courses conducted by private institutes.
Initially, there was a tussle among the elected representatives over getting the mobile training centre to their respective wards. Thus, the civic body decided that the vans should be allotted to wards represented by office-bearers — the mayor, deputy mayor, leader of the House, leader of the Opposition, chairpersons of the standing committee and city improvement committee.
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“Of the six vans, one each is operational in the areas represented by former corporators Anil Bhosale and Bapu Pathare of NCP and Congress leader Ulhas Bagul. The remaining three are in the vehicle depot,” said an official of the PMC urban community development.
Now, since corporators are not willing to station the mobile vans in their respective areas due to the operational cost of Rs 30,000 per month, the urban community department recently decided to hand over the facility to the civic education board for training students.
“The education board has agreed to use the vans if they are in good condition. The vehicles have to be repaired as they have developed problems due to prolonged disuse. Also, the department cannot take up the repair of computer hardware, which has been damaged,” said Joint Municipal Commissioner Suresh Jagtap. The vehicle depot can carry out the automobile repair work but the IT department will have to carry out the repair of the computer hardware, he said.
Bagul said it is unfortunate that not many corporators are interested in using the facility. “I have been bearing the operational cost as many citizens in the electoral ward were using the facility,” he added.