Kolkata: The state government has started distributing bicycles under Sabuj Sathi project among the students of class IX of state-run, sponsored and aided schools.
Around 12.38 cycles will be distributed and the deadline for clearing the stock is September.
Sabuj Sathi, an initiative taken by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is a major success and has reduced the number of drop outs from schools.
In his budget speech, state Finance minister Amit Mitra had announced the scheme in 2015. The first batch of cycles were distributed by Mamata Banerjee at Gopiballavpur Block I on September 29, 2015. Tender was floated and cycles were procured from three well known manufacturers in the country.
The project was severely criticised by the opposition alleging that poor quality cycles had been distributed. But their allegations were later proved wrong. The cycles have been distributed by the Backward Classes Welfare (BCW) department. Around 70 lakh cycles have been distributed. It was decided that the cycles will be distributed among the students of classes IX to XII.
The manufacturers had sent the cycle spares in 4,500 trucks, which were then distributed in the districts. The fitters came from different parts of the country to assemble the cycles. The cycles are given one year guarantee and are fitted
The BCW has given training to unemployed youth to assemble and maintain the cycles with a view of making them self-reliant.
The youth have also been given kits free of cost.
The Sabuj sathi project has reduced the number of drop outs in schools. Also, it has reduced the number of early marriages of girls.
Earlier, because of lack of communication, the girls took half an hour to one hour to reach homes from school.
As they grow old, the parents felt insecure and arranged their marriage. But now as they have cycles, they can reach home on time. Also, it has helped the students to build confidence.