Distribution of free laptops to students begins, finally

Ahead of the Assembly polls, free “laptop bhagya” for degree and diploma students in the state has finally materialised.

The higher education department on Tuesday launched the process of distributing laptops, providing a few token units to students at a function held at Banquet Hall in the Vidhana Soudha.

In all, 1.5 lakh laptops will be distributed free of cost to undergraduate and diploma students belonging to poor families of all castes. Students of families whose income is below Rs 2.5 lakh per year have been identified. The laptops have been procured at a cost of Rs 14,500 each.

Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddi said district in-charge ministers will distribute the laptops in the respective districts in the coming days.

In his 2017-18 budget, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced free laptops for 1.5 lakh engineering, medical, polytechnic and first grade college students at a cost of Rs 300 crore.

Rayareddi said the gross enrolment ratio in higher education, which stood at 24%, will touch 28% next year. The government had put in place an action plan that will take the ratio to 40% in the coming years.

The laptop scheme had its own share of controversies. Following charges that there were irregularities in the tendering scheme, Legislative Council chairman D H Shankaramurthy had constituted a House panel headed by Congress member K C Kondaiah. However, the panel gave its go-ahead for the scheme.

Rayareddi said he was pained by the charges made against him. He admitted that there was delay in executing the programme.

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