Kids denied wheels by govt mired in deals

Broken promise

Kids denied wheels by govt mired in deals

Worse, the government is yet begun the process of purchasing bicycles. The trifling matter of providing bicycles, a solemn promise of the government to students belonging to poor families, is the least of the government’s worries, considering what it has had on its plate during last few months, including instability and dozens scams.

The State Government launched the bicycle scheme for students of eighth standard two years ago. In the first year, the scheme was only for girl students. The objective was to promote the girl child attend school regularly, even if there was no transport facilities.

The facility, designed as a girl child empowerment measure to encourage poor families to educate their female children, was extended to boys by the Yeddyurappa government after some feeble demands by boys for similar benefit.

Students got bicycles each worth Rs 2,300. The total expenditure last year was around Rs 127 crore. The government had proposed to continue with the programme this academic year too. The Education Department floated tenders for purchasing 5.92 lakh bicycles. Four companies were short-listed. However, the Cabinet is yet to give its nod of approval for the tender.

Government sources said that the cabinet is delaying its approval following an on-going inquiry into procurement of bicycles that have attracted widespread complaints of being substandard.

The Opposition had been alleging misappropriation in procurement of bicycles in the previous years.  Following such a debate in the Legislative Council in December 2009, Chief Minister Yeddyurappa declared to have an inquiry by the House committee headed by JD(S) leader M C Nanaiah. The committee was notified in January this year and it was allotted three months duration for completion of the enquiry.

Nanaiah resigned as head of the committee in July without citing any reason on the record. It is said that he resigned because Council Chairman D H Shankarmurthy expressed his reluctance to extend duration of the enquiry committee. Later, the chairman extended time. But Nanaiah did not withdraw his resignation.

Now the committee is headed by BJP member Thontadarya. Other members are Capt Ganesh Karnik (BJP), K C Kondaiah (Cong), Marithibbe Gowda (Ind) and Mohan Limbekai (BJP). The committee is expected to file its report by December 31 this year.

Even if the Cabinet approves the tender process now, the chances of the children getting bicycles before the end of the academic year is bleak, as the selected companies would require at least three months to supply the bicycles after the order is placed. The net result is that the students have not got the bicycles.

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