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BJP govt puts brakes on 'free bicycle' scheme for schoolkids in Karnataka

The scheme was implemented by Yediyurappa during the 2006-07 academic year mainly to prevent school dropouts after class 7
Last Updated : 18 February 2023, 22:36 IST

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The BJP-run state government has stopped the free bicycles scheme for high school students, one of the dream projects of party senior leader B S Yediyurappa during his tenure as chief minister.

The scheme has not been implemented for the last three years. The first two years it was due to Covid-19 and long closure of schools and during the 2022-23 academic year, the finance department rejected the proposal submitted by the department of school education and literacy to distribute cycles.

For the 2023-24 academic year too the scheme will not be implemented as there was no mention about the scheme or funds in Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's budget on Friday.

The scheme was implemented by Yediyurappa during the 2006-07 academic year mainly to prevent school dropouts after class 7.

The cycles were distributed to those getting admissions to class 8 at government and aided schools in the state.

In the first year, it was only for girl students and for government schools, later following the demand and increase in admissions, the government extended it to aided schools and also for boys.

However, over the years, the cost of bicycles went up sharply. According to officials from the department, this is one of the reasons for the scheme to be dropped during the current academic year. "There was no approval from the finance department as the cost per cycle doubled due to increase in iron price and companies quoted a high price in the tenders," an official explained.

Also, according to officials, the cycles were being misused.

"In most cases, especially in rural areas we found parents using the cycles. Moreover, now even children don't like to pedal basic models and the updated version costs more than Rs 6,000 per cycle," an official stated.

According to data available from the department during the 2019-20 academic year, the number of cycles needed has gone up from 4.94 lakh in 2018-19 to 5.4 lakh. Even the cost per cycle was Rs 3,626 for boys and Rs 3,850 for girls.

Sources from the department said the amount needed for the scheme was Rs 800 plus crore. Students in Bengaluru South and North district, Dharwad, Kalaburagi, Belagavi, Mysuru and Davangere were not covered under the scheme.

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Published 18 February 2023, 18:49 IST

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