Less than two years after it took over the state’s reins, and despite the acute financial crunch faced by it, the Captain Amarinder Singh led Punjab government is all set to implement its key poll promise of giving smart phones to the youth.The state cabinet, at its meeting on Wednesday, approved the modalities for the distribution of the smart phones, with graduating students of government schools, colleges and technical institutions to be covered in the first phase of the scheme, according to an official spokesperson. The students would be required to submit self-certification stating that they do not already possess a smart phone.The scheme, which will give a further impetus to the state government’s digital empowerment agenda, will provide for distribution of mobile phones with various smart features, such as touch screen, camera and applications to access social media etc. In addition, one time bundled 12 GB data & 600 local minutes talk time (voice) with one year validity would also be provided under the scheme.The vendor to implement the scheme shall be selected through an open transparent bidding process for which the tender document has already been floated by Punjab Information and Communication Technology Corporation. Vendors shall be on board within a period of about two months and the first batch of phones is expected to be distributed in the month of March.
According to the spokesperson, the Cabinet also authorised the Chief Minister to finalise the name of the scheme, besides authorising the chairman of the committee for procurement and distribution of smart phones to make changes in the Request For Proposal (RFP) as may be required in the future.
Notably, the Punjab government had announced a scheme named ‘Mobile Phone to the Youth’ in its budget for the Financial Year 2017-18 with the objective of providing digital access to youth and information regarding education, career opportunities, access to skill development & employment opportunities and basic citizen centric services through government applications, etc.It may be recalled that the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs had constituted a committee in April 2017 with the objective of implementation of the aforesaid scheme. The committee was reconstituted in August 2017 and the Department of Industries was made the nodal agency. Punjab Information and Communication Technology Corporation Ltd. (Punjab Infotech) under the Department of Industries was designated as the Executing Agency of the Project.
The reconstituted committee decided that a Project Management Consultant (PMC) be appointed to assist in conceptualising the project, preparation of Detailed Project Report and planning and executing other related activities. Punjab Infotech invited open bids for selection of PMC from National Informatics Centre Services Incorporated (NICSI) empanelled consulting organizations. The selection criteria was based on ‘Quality and Cost Based Selection’ (QCBS) & the bidders were required to quote for efforts for the assignment on the basis of fixed NICSI rates. The most responsive bid was found to be from M/S KPMG. M/S KPMG was thus selected to be the PMC at a cost of Rs.72.19 lakhs for the duration of the project.This unique initiative would help in connecting in digitally engaging the youth of the state. It would also encourage and incentivise youth to use digital technology in their day to day life besides enabling them, among other things, to be a beneficiary and a partner in the government’s efforts to digitise Punjab through the Digital Punjab Initiative.