Alleging a scam by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the tendering process to procure electronic tablets, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam on Friday said ruling party Shiv Sena favoured a particular company for purchasing outdated tabs. The BMC had recently passed a Rs 32 crore proposal for the purchase of tablets to be provided to standard 8 students of municipal schools in the next two years. The contract has been awarded to Uttarakhand-based company, Techno Electronics Limited, which Nirupam alleged has ties with the Videocon group. He alleged that BMC modified the tender conditions to suit the company. Speaking to the media, Nirupam said, “In the past few days, a lot of Videocon officials visited Matoshree (Thackeray residence) to sell this outdated product. It seems the BMC’s tenders are being finalised there.
Yuva Sena chief (Aaditya Thackeray) took the product to Delhi to present it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since when did political leaders start behaving like salesmen?” He pointed out that unlike commercially available tablets, these devices neither had WiFi nor 3G capabilities. They will come preloaded with study material for classes 8 and 9, an e-book reader, Google maps, and some Android apps. According to BMC’s bid conditions, the tablets will feature a 10.3-inch touchscreen, larger than popular brands such as Apple iPad, a USB port, and headphones.
“We demand Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to scrap the tendering process. We will approach the Central Vigilance Commission for a probe,” Nirupam added. The project touted as Aaditya Thackeray’s brainchild was on the Sena agenda during the 2014 Assembly elections. Yashodhar Phanse, standing committee chairman and senior Sena leader, said, “We invited a global tender through our website and newspapers. The education department has created specifications according to which the company has been selected. Opposition parties are demanding WiFi and bluetooth, but these tablets are being provided for educational purposes only.”
Several top tablet manufacturers raised objections to BMC’s tender conditions. There were three bids for the tablets – from Techno Electronics Ltd, Kaarvy Data Management Services and Ricoh India Ltd – and Techno Electronics bagged the tender. Harish Marathe, general manager, Techno Electronics Limited, said, “Techno Electronics is not related to Videocon in any way. We have been supplying electronic devices to the company. In case of the tablets, we have followed the due tendering process and provided the machines as per specifications. If BMC wishes for higher specifications, we can provide that too.”