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Naveen goes Nitish way, offers bicycles

Bhubaneswar: Encouraged by the landslide victory of the JD (U)-led Nitish Kumar government in the recently concluded Bihar Assembly elections, the Orissa government has announced populist measures to entice its stakeholders, especially girl students.

The state government on Tuesday declared that it would provide free bicycle to each school-going girl studying in class X in government-run and government-aided schools. With this, around 1, 16, 292 girl students would be benefited from this initiative.

Besides, the state government has also decided to extend the benefits to class X boy students belonging to SC&ST category in the tribal-dominated districts. Around 12, 826 students will get the benefit from the program.

In addition to this, the government would also provide free school uniform to students from class I to class VIII in the tribal-dominated districts in the state. Around 8, 80, 755 students would avail the benefits under this scheme.

“All girl students studying in the 10th standard in all government and government-aided schools throughout the state will be given bicycles. Also all SC&ST boy students in the 10th standard in government and government-aided schools in the scheduled areas of the state will be given bicycles,” CM Naveen Patnaik said.

The free distribution of bicycles mirroring schemes launched in Bihar and Tamilnadu would cost state exchequer around Rs 70 crore. For this, the government has asked the school and mass education department to prepare the modalities within two weeks.

Bicycles might be fast disappearing from the roads but government’s initiative has drawn mixed reactions from political circles.

“Time will tell what kind of results the initiative taken by the government will bear in future,” Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said.

“The initiative taken by the government has no impact on the field,” BJP MLA Juel Oram said.

With the recent move by the government, the enrollments and dropouts in the schools are expected to have a dramatic impact. The announcement has brought smiles on many faces as the fairer sex especially is thrilled with government’s scheme.

“The girl students who come from distant places now can come to school at their own and do not need to depend on others,” a girl student of Budhiraja High School Prasanna Bhoi said.

“Many girl students, who belong to the below poverty line will be benefited by the initiative taken by the government and now can come to school on time,” Headmaster in-charge Budhiraja High School said.

It may be recalled that the Bihar government had launched the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna in 2007 which claimed to have achieved great success. The plan specially designed for girls in class IX and X were entitled to a free cycle or Rs 2, 000 to buy a new one.

As per Bihar government’s official figures, since last three years, Bihar has spent Rs 174.36 crore on cycles for 8, 71, 000 school girls. The scheme dubbed as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s dream project witnessed remarkable change as girls enrolling in schools in the state shot up and dropouts among them declined to 1 million from about 2.5 million in the last three years.

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