Sabuj Sathi scheme: More than 95% of Class IX students receive bicycles

Kolkata: More than 95% of the students studying in Class IX in state-run, aided and sponsored schools have received bicycles under Sabuj Sathi project taking the total number of students receiving cycles under the scheme to 70 lakh.

Bengal is the only state in the country where 70 lakh bicycles have been distributed among students free of cost to promote education. The state government has spent Rs 2,300 crore for the purpose.

Under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's pet project Sabuj Sathi, students of classes IX, X, XI and XII are supposed to receive bicycles.

The Backward Classes Welfare (BCW) department received the first batch of 1.5 lakh bicycles in March to distribute among the students. The BCW decided to distribute the cycles among the students of class IX and those studying in upper classes, who had not received cycles by September. The first batch of cycles was distributed by Mamata Banerjee on October 23, 2015, at a function in Gopiballavpur Block II, under the then West

Midnapore district.

The project was announced by the state Finance minister Amit Mitra in his Budget speech in February 2015. Then tender was floated and three well-known cycle manufacturers were selected. Over 4,500 trucks from all over the country containing cycle spares came to Bengal and were sent to the districts. A preliminary report on the survey of the project's social impact has stated that it has helped build confidence in girls of rural areas and is successful in bringing down the number of school dropouts. It has also stopped early

marriage of girls. It may be mentioned that the BCW department has provided training and given repairing kits to unemployed youths belonging to SC and ST communities to look after the cycles. The maintenance of the cycles for one year will be done by the BCW. The cycles are fitted with reflectors for safe cycling at night. The BCW has a data bank containing the names of 70 lakh students and their parents or guardians, the names of the schools and classes they are studying in and the date of delivery of the cycles along with the brand.

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