Thursday, 23 February 2012

Datawind halts Aakash supplies, till IIT-Rajasthan release payments

Even as the nation awaits the upgraded version of the world's most affordable tablet, the battle between Datawind and IIT-Rajasthan just refuses to die down. Reports about the two bickering have been aplenty, but this one, particularly is going to give the ministry some sleepless nights. A report in The Economic Times confirms that Datawind has halted the supplies of the Aakash tablet, just a month before the validity of the supply of the $35 Aakash tablet expires. Reason? It hasn't received the payment from IIT-Rajasthan for the tablets, which it had earlier supplied. Reportedly, so far, Datawind supplied some 10,000 units of the Aakash tablet to IIT-Rajasthan, at the cost of Rs.2,276 per tablet. The Letter of Credit issued to complete the bulk supplies ends on March 31st, but as it now stands, the supplies have been cut, following non-payment.

Quoting Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind, the report further adds, "There is no question of supplying more tablets unless we get the payments for the previously supplied tablets." Meanwhile, officials from the HRD ministry are refusing to acknowledge the exclusion of Datawind from the Aakash 2 tender. The report quoted the officials as stating, "It's purely a commercial dispute between two parties. But we have not come across any process to evict a particular vendor from its participation", while adding that the news of Datawind's exclusion is plain "misquoting and misrepresentation" as "no such process" is in progress. "For Aakash 2, agencies such as C-DAC and ITI will just be tender handling bodies. But they can't take the project forward without engaging private hardware companies," the official added. When questioned Datawind, themselves about it, a report in The Economic Times quoted them as replying, "Datawind would like to state that we have not been informed officially or unofficially by the Ministry of HRD of anything restricting us to participate in the next tender."

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