iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Ludhiana, June 28, 2013
The cycle manufacturers have opposed the practice of direct distribution of funds in several states for free of cost distribution of bicycles among school students under government's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme.
The cycle manufacturers have complained that direct distribution of funds to school students was not only defeating the very purpose of the scheme which aims at increasing the attendance of school children in schools but it was also hurting the interests of cycle manufacturers.

Chairman of Hi-Bird Cycles RD Sharma said that the states where the governments have resorted to direct transfers of funds to school students has proved a failure and utilisation of funds sanction for this purpose has not been ensured.

“The direct transfer of funds was not only hurting the very purpose of scheme of distributing free of cost bicycles among the school students but was also affecting the manufactures as direct purchase of bicycles could have ensured enhanced production,” Sharma said.

Sharma added that purchase of bicycles under the scheme should be a centralised -- directly from manufacturers, as it will ensure that amount sanctioned under the scheme is utilised for the very purpose but will also ensure satisfying the minimum quality standards which is not possible in direct purchase.

Condemning the state governments, which are distributing the money directly to students to buy bicycles, president of All India Cycle Manufacturer's Association Vikram Kapur said that these states should invite tenders directly from the manufacturers for purchasing and distributing of bicycles free of cost to the students.

AICMA chief Vikram Kapur is planning to raise the issue before the state government to ensure direct purchase from manufacturers.

He said that some states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, West Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra are pursuing the practice of inviting the tenders but lately states such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Orissa, MP, Bihar and Uttrakhand have converted the above scheme by distributing money to students through headmasters of schools or through district administration.

“In Bihar Rs. 350 crores was sanctioned for the purpose of distribution of 14 lakh bicycles amongst students in the year 2012-13. Even as this amount was distributed amongst students only about 30% of cycles have been purchased by the students,” he said.

Kapur added that by inviting tenders, state governments can procure bicycles at a better price as there will be no involvement of intermediates and the product will thus reach the ultimate user directly and this will be the best way to use the funds allocated by the central government for this purpose.