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Nitish Kumar's dream project is his worst nightmare today

Last updated on: December 12, 2011 13:40 IST

Nitish Kumar's dream project is his worst nightmare today

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MI Khan in Patna

The Bihar government's much-hyped bicycle scheme meant for students of class 9 and 10 in government schools has gone off track with a slew of irregularities coming out in the open.

Since the last four years, the state government has been distributing free bicycles to students of class 9 and 10 to curb the soaring school dropout rate.

Under the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna" (Chief Minister's Bicycle Program for secondary school girls), which was later extended to schoolboys as well, a student gets a cheque of Rs 2500 upon passing class VIII to buy a bicycle so that he or she can go to school every day.

 
However, it has come to light that hundreds of students have stopped coming to schools after getting the money for bicycles.

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Nitish Kumar's dream project is his worst nightmare today

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The revelation came when authorities of the education department in Bhagalpur district scanned Class 9 and 10 admissions on the basis of the transfer certificate issued in high schools.

"In more than 500 instances, transfer certificates that were produced by the concerned students were found to be fake," District Education Officer J C Srivastav said.

Srivastav told rediff.com over telephone that it is a shocking detection of irregularities in the free bicycle scheme.

"It could be the tip of the iceberg. Till now checks have been conducted in less than 50 schools," he said.

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Nitish Kumar's dream project is his worst nightmare today

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District officials said that authorities suspected something was wrong after local dailies regularly reported about the prolonged absence of newly-enrolled students in classes.

"It provided the main clue to go ahead and verify the transfer certificates produced for admission," officials said.

The bicycle scheme was the brainchild of Nitish Kumar, who is credited with turning around the fortunes of a state dismissed as backward with infrastructure and other indices lagging far behind other states.

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In his blog some time back Nitish Kumar wrote: "The number of beneficiaries under the bicycle scheme for school students has now exceeded 6 lakh, including 2.25 lakh boys, in the state. As you know, this project was initially launched only for schoolgirls, but was later extended to schoolboys as well. At start, the government had distributed bicycles among 1.50 lakh girls. This number has gone up to 3.75 lakh now."

"When our government had taken over, the number of dropouts in the schools in the state was a staggering 25 lakh. Today, it has come down to around 10 lakh only. I have no hesitation to say that this scheme has also played a significant part in bringing about this positive change," he added.

Wonder what the chief minister would have to say about his dream project going off track today...

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