The state government is gearing up to distribute 15 lakh bicycles among the students of class IX of state-run, aided and sponsored school within June to July. Already 25 lakh bicycles have been distributed among the students of classes XII, XI and X. The cycles among the students of class IX could not be distributed due to the election code of conduct that was promulgated in the state.
Mamata Banerjee during her election campaign had assured the students that they would get it soon.
The project Sabuj Sathi was welcomed by the people and this is one of the most important projects that have fetched huge support.
It may be recalled that West Bengal tops the list in distribution of 25 lakh bicycles in one year followed by Tamil Nadu which had distributed 6.5 lakh bicycles in a year.
The Opposition had called the project a “major flop” and said that it was impossible for the state government to distribute so many bicycles. They also said that quality of the bicycles were poor and were developing snag soon after they were distributed.
But the efficiency of the backward Classes Welfare and Tribal Development has proved them wrong. The department has in its possession the list of the beneficiaries, the make of the bicycles and the date when it was handed over to them. The blue and white cycles carries a unique identification number which is very similar to the chassis number of vehicles.
Banerjee has named the project as Sabuj Sathi and has sketched its logo. The cycle has brought joy among the students in the backward areas of Bakura where 1.07 lakh cycles had been distributed.
In Purulia, around 89,000 cycles were distributed and in West Midnapore incluing Junglemahal around 1.89 lakh cycles had been distributed. The cycles have been given to the students of classes X, XI and XII and only the girl of class IX in 2015-16 financial year. State Finance Minister Amit Mitra in his budget speech in 2015 had announced that the state government would give 40 lakh bicycles to the students of classes IX, X, XI and XII.
The tender was floated and three firms, Hero, Hercules and Avon were selected. The distribution was done in November-December 2015 by the Chief Minister. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 800 crore.
Over 3,000 trucks containing the spares of the bicycles came from Tamil Nadu, Nasik and other places. The vehicles were directed to the districts where 4,500 fitters assembled the cycles. The cycles were checked before they were given to the students.