Headmasters advised to accept bicycles only as assembled units

A total of 25,585 Plus One students – 14,837 girls and 10,478 boys – in Tiruchi district will be receiving free bicycles under the State government's welfare scheme.

Distribution of bicycles is likely to coincide with an impending visit of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to Tiruchi, official sources said, adding that the process will be completed by this month-end.

Nearly 15,000 bicycles have already been delivered to schools as per their requirements.

All eligible students in government and government-aided schools have been covered under the scheme. Separate models have been delivered for use by boys and girls, according to Chief Educational Officer K.Selvakumar.

Headmasters have been advised to accept bicycles from the supplying companies only as assembled units, as per the agreement.

A direction to this effect was issued following complaints that some headmasters had received bicycle parts last year due to which students faced difficulty in assembling.

As per the agreement that the government has entered into with bicycle companies, only quality bicycles must be delivered.

The contracted companies are expected to deliver the bicycles at the schools along with standard accessories: PVC saddle, bell with cushion cover, steel gear, five to seven lever metallic lock, side stand, carrier, full gear case and also optional accessory of front basket, and saree guard. The cost per cycle includes fitting charges and secondary freight charges.

As per the government order on this scheme, cost of bicycles will be recovered from the beneficiaries in the event if selling or irregular usage. The free bicycles are envisaged to serve as a motivation for higher secondary students, especially girls in rural parts.

The free-bicycle scheme was initiated by the AIADMK government in its previous stint. In 2002-2003, the government had first conceptualised the scheme for higher secondary girl students belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.

Only those studying in residential schools where hostels were also in the same campus were left out of the scheme. Those who had desired for free bus passes were also not included. But subsequently, all higher secondary students in government and government aided schools were made beneficiaries.

The delay in distribution of the free bicycles this year was attributed to the pre-occupation of the government with factors such as ‘Samacheer Kalvi' and free laptop schemes. Last year, the bicycles were distributed three months earlier.