Kerala tussle over using Microsoft in local bodies

Friday, 28 November 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has joined issue with the state government over the decision to use Microsoft Technologies for computerising 1,400 local bodies.

The Communist leader has argued that there are other cheaper options available.

The total cost of the project that is to be implemented under the build, operate, lease and transfer basis is expected to cost 1.5 billion.

This includes 500 million for training, 300 million for hardware, including computers, 320 million for technical support, 200 million for pre-processing of legacy date and 180 million for commercial off-the-shelf software.

In an open letter to Kerala Chief Minister A.K. Antony, Achuthanandan has alleged that various government departments under the project have siphoned off millions of rupees.

"During the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government we conducted training programmes for thousands of local bodies representatives and it was done for 50 million," said Achuthanandan.

He also cautioned Antony against succumbing to the pressures of the multinational company as there was corruption in the proposed deal.

"You should look into other cheaper options that are presently available," the veteran communist leader said.

Responding to the criticism, Local Self Government Minister Cherkallam Abdullah said Achuthanandan's fears were baseless.

"We have no particular liking for Microsoft or for any company. The exercise we are undertaking is a laborious task and the spadework on this front had been done by the previous E.K. Nayanar ministry," he said.

The minister added that there was nothing hidden in the deal as it was being handled by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation through open tenders.

"We have planned a two phased programme. There would be specific tenders floated for all those interested in participating," said the minister.

Source: IANS
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