Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 20:
Sops earn votes and many believe it was a slew of please-all sops announced by the Naveen government that ensured a huge victory for the ruling party in the last twin polls in Odisha.
One of the sops which was tom-tommed by the BJD in its pre-poll publicity campaign was the bicycle scheme for the girl students. The idea was borrowed from the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar.
Leading RTI activist and convenor of the Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhiyan Pradeep Pradhan has found out that the bicycle scheme had cost the exchequer over Rs 68 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 108 crore in 2012-13. For the year 2013-14, the budget for cycles is Rs 123 crore.
In a press release Pradhan has said the bicycle scheme, inaugurated by the chief minister on 28 Ocober 2011 in Gajapati district, was introduced in the year 2011-12. Under the scheme an amount of Rs. 2600/- was provided to each girl student and SC/ST boy student reading in class-X in government and govt.-aided high schools across 118 TSP blocks in the year 2011-12.
As many as 2,61,975 beneficiaries were covered under the scheme in 2011-12 at a total cost of Rs. 68,11,35,000.
In the year 2012-13, all girl students, all SC, ST and BPL category boy students reading in Class –X in government, non-government, aided high schools, Sanskrit tols and madrasas in the state, numbering 4,15,619 were beneficiaries under the scheme. This cost the government Rs. 108, 06,09,400.
For the year 2013-14, the government has earmarked Rs. 122,99,92,400 to provide bicycles to 4,73,074 students.
The state government claims the the enrolment rate at the secondary level has increased and the dropout rate has fallen sharply due to implementation of the bicycle scheme.
The scheme will be continued for the next 5 years, i.e. until the next general elections, Pradhan said in his release.