Those admitted under management and NRI quotas not eligible for freebie

The long wait for free laptops promised by the State government finally comes to an end, at least for some students. Final year engineering students of Anna University will be given the laptops from next week, according to a communication from the IT department to the University administration. This will include 991 students from the College of Engineering Guindy, Anna University of Technology Chennai, School of Architecture and Madras Institute of Technology.

As per the earlier plans, students studying in second and last year of engineering were supposed to get the laptops. “Now, all final year B.E. and B. Tech students and fifth year students of School of architecture will get them,” says M. Sekar, dean, College of Engineering. However, students admitted under the management quota and NRI quota will not be eligible.

As five per cent of the laptops need to be checked manually for errors, Anna University has already designated a committee of 27 professional engineers to look into the working of the machines. “The Ramanujam Computing Centre has been assigned the job and distribution will start three days after we receive the machines. Every student receiving a laptop will be given a serial number that will be registered and also stuck on the laptop. This will help us identify the laptop and also send it for servicing if needed, said Prof. Sekar.

The Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (ELCOT) had, by tender process last year, decided on six vendors to provide the laptops. These include Lenovo India Pvt. Ltd that was assigned the largest order of 300,000 laptops, followed by HCL Infosystems Ltd and Acer India Pvt. Ltd, with orders of 200,000 laptops each, Hewlett-Packard India Pvt. Ltd with 65,000, RP Infosystems Pvt. Ltd with 75,000, and Wipro Ltd with 50,000 laptops.

The delivery of most of these vendors, barring Lenovo, was hit by the hard disk shortage created by recent floods in Thailand. “Most manufactures procure their hard disks from companies, including Western Digital, which were much affected by the floods. There is a huge shortage of PCs and laptops. Only bigger companies that have procured them in bulk earlier have managed to keep the flow on,” says an official from the Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology (Mait), which represents hardware companies in India. The association had earlier urged the government to renew its tender or postpone it, considering the sudden shrinkage in the supply of laptops.

The State government had planned to distribute 9,12,000 , as part of its plan to give away 6.8 million laptops over five years to students of government-aided higher secondary schools and colleges. Of these, nearly 6,600 were distributed on September 15.

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