After much deliberation, the Union HRD ministry has given the go ahead to its ambitious Aakash 4 project, and a cabinet note seeking permission for the production of the low-cost tablet is expected soon. Under this proposal, HRD plans to procure over 22 lakh tablets at a cost of Rs. 330 crore through Directorate General of Supplies (DGS&D), ministry sources said.
In the first phase of the scheme, Aakash 4 tablets will be given to engineering institutes which will be directly bought from vendors empanelled by the DGS&D. The tablet, estimated at USD 35 per piece, will be provided to students at a subsidised rate.
Sources at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology have said the new tablet will be out by January next year.
The CAG in September had slammed the HRD Ministry for the shortcomings in the Aakash tablet project, raising questions over “arbitrary” selection of IIT-Rajasthan to launch the scheme.
The public auditor had observed that the ministry decided to launch Aakash through the IIT-Rajasthan without ascertaining their capacity to undertake the work which adversely affected the project delivery.
The development of the tablet has since been shifted from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur, to IIT Bombay.
The new version of the tablet will allow students to read and compose in Hindi, Kannad, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Manipur etc along with audio-video chat facility