CAG lambasts HRD Ministry for Aakash failure

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has raised questions and pointed out flaws and shortcomings in the Aakash tablet project initiated by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry. The latest CAG report points out the arbitrary selection of IIT, Rajasthan for launching the entire Aakash project in a hurry without assessing the capacity of the agency to undertake the work.

According to the report no prior feasibility study of the magnitude of the project was carried out by HRD Ministry and funds amounting to ₹47.42 crore (₹474 million) were put at the disposal of the Rajasthan IIT. This has raised financial propriety issues and has also adversely affected delivery of the project. The reports reveal that no justification for the selection of IIT Rajasthan for launching of the project has been provided by the Ministry.

The report also points out that only one technical bid was received for the project in the first round. This led IIT Rajasthan to go for a second round of tender in March 2011 in which DataWind was selected. But against an order of 1 Lakh (100k) tablets, DataWind was able to supply only 6,440 tablets by November 2011. IIT Rajasthan rejected 5,790 tablets and the rest were accepted conditionally. In February 2012, the Ministry finally decided to execute the entire Aakash project through IIT Bombay.

The CAG went onto add that selection of IIT Rajasthan was done in a non-transparent manner leading to bad performance of the entire project. Interestingly, the report points out that IIT Rajasthan did spend “unfruitful expenditure” of ₹1.05 crore (₹10.5 million) in sending the Ministry representatives and its own officials to foreign trips to Canada, China and Taiwan.