The Punjab cabinet on Thursday approved the modalities for distribution of free smart mobile phones to the state's youth, a key poll promise of the ruling Congress and will pave the way for implementation of the scheme from December.
This decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here, an official release said. The vendor to implement the scheme would be selected through an open transparent bidding process and the tender document would be floated by the Punjab Information Technology Corporation Ltd, it said.
The vendor would be on board within a period of around two months, and the first batch of phones is expected to be distributed in December 2019, the release said.
Giving details, an official spokesperson said in the first phase, mobile phones would be distributed in the current financial year among girl students studying in Class 11 and 12 of government schools in Punjab who do not own a smart phone. Before coming to power, the Congress had announced in its poll manifesto that in order to "encourage and incentivise" youth to use digital technology in day-to-day lives, it will give out free smart phones.
The opposition has been vociferously criticising the Congress-led government for not honouring its major polls promises, including distribution of free smart phones.
The state government had announced its 'Mobile Phones to the Youth' scheme, in line with its poll promise, in its budget for the financial year 2017-18.