Rs. 92 crore ‘Punjab Smart Connect Scheme’ launched
Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday launched Rs. 92 crore ‘Punjab Smart Connect Scheme’ by personally handing over smartphones to six Class XII students in a symbolic gesture.
Simultaneous distribution of phones was done at 26 places – 20 phones at each place – by various ministers, MLAs and others across the state marking fulfilment of a major poll promise of the Congress government in the state.
Rs. 100 crore was allocated in the state budget for 2017-18 for the scheme.
When the Congress listed smartphones as a poll promise, it was to provide global connectivity and empower the poor youth who could not afford them, said Captain Amarinder, adding that in the present pandemic situation, these phones had assumed a bigger importance as they had become a necessity for education continuity.
Total 174015 Class XII students of government schools will receive phones in the first phase by November 2020.
Of these, 87395 are boys and 86620 girls, with majority in the OBC and SC/ST categories – thus bridging a major divide that was obstructing these students from affordable access to online/digital education.
While 36555 beneficiaries are OBC students, 94832 are SC and 13 ST students. The bulk of the students – 111857- are from rural areas, and the remaining ones from the urban government schools.
Chief Minister launched the scheme coinciding with Janmashtami and International Youth Day through video conferencing at the Civil Secretariat, Chandigarh. The smartphone being distributed under the scheme is a good functional phone, which also looks smart, he added.
It was the money of the people of Punjab which his government was spending on advancement of the youth, he said, adding that the phones were planned to be distributed in March but the process got delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Arshdeep Kaur, Satinder Kaur, Sukhbir Kaur, Amanjot Singh, Ram Singh and Amanveer Singh from different government senior secondary schools of Mohali district received the phones from the Chief Minister.
Gagandeep, a labourer’s daughter from Hoshiarpur, told the Chief Minister on video that though she had got 85% in Class XI, she had lost out severely in studies over the past few months due to lack of smart phone. With this phone, she said she would now be able to fulfill her dreams. The Chief Minister assured her of all help to pursue her dreams.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Sunil Jakhar said the SAD-BJP government of the past had promised computers, laptops, tablets etc but had failed to deliver on its promise, as had the BJP-led government at the Centre.
The Industry department will procure more smartphones through Punjab Infotech, and their distribution will be undertaken through M/s Lava, which has been selected as implementation partner to deliver and distribute smart phones to the youth in the State.