Now, quality checks for govt's free cycles

Free bicycles distributed by the Karnataka government to high school students have frequently run into controversies over quality issues.

The free bicycles distributed by the state government to high school students ran into frequent controversies over quality issues. Evidently, students and parents also complained about corroded, rickety cycles after less than a year of use. However, this year, taking no chances, the state government will not only subject these cycles to rigorous tests to meet BIS standards but also distribute them with a five-year warranty.

Ahead of the fresh academic year 2019-20, the government has resolved that all the materials used for handle bars, rods, tubes and spokes must be BIS-certified and has laid down other conditions. Currently, the technical bid has already been completed and the department has received seven applications of which earnest money deposit (EMD) for four companies have been accepted.

Detailing its quality standards in the tender document itself, the government has also directed successful companies to hold service camps within three-months of supply and re-assemble cycles once in six months.

Following complaints by parents, several elected representatives had petitioned the chief minister about the quality of cycles and subsequently the distribution was stopped for two months.

“All these years, the quality was checked by the Research and Development Centre for Bicycle and Sewing Machine located in Ludhiana, Punjab. This year, along with that centre, we will conduct the quality test in a few more labs including those run by the Union government and private ones,” said S R Umashankar, Principal Secretary, Department of Primary and Secondary Education.

Meanwhile, the department also plans to constitute a committee at the state level comprising senior professors of engineering colleges heading the mechanical engineering department.

“This year, the suppliers must provide one tool kit per school for minor repairs which can be managed at the school level,” added Umashankar.

Generally cycles, before distribution at schools, were inspected thrice to ensure quality. At the first step, they were tested at the time of production by picking one sample out of 100 bicycles. Later, one out of 2,500 cycles will be subjected to crash tests and the final test will be done after the delivery by randomly drawing 40 samples from all divisions.

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