The Karnataka government’s slogan pasted on the front basket of free bicycles distributed by the Tamil Nadu government among children in government schools in Tindivanam in Villupuram district has stirred up a controversy.
While the general perception is that the bicycles procured by the Karnataka government for the free bicycle scheme for schoolchildren in the State had landed in Tamil Nadu, the official machinery said all the spare parts for the free bicycle scheme were assembled locally and the basket could have accidentally been despatched by the vendor.
The issue gains significance in the wake of reports that the Karnataka government had been thinking of scrapping the scheme for schoolchildren in that State over the poor quality of the bicycles being supplied by the vendor.
Questions are being raised as to whether it was a mistake as claimed by the government machinery or had officials procured substandard bicycles from the same vendor who had supplied them to schools in Karnataka.
The free bicycle scheme was launched by the State government in 2001-02 to encourage children, particularly Adi-dravidar and Scheduled Tribe girls, to continue their education.
Subsequently, the scheme was extended to students from government schools and government-aided schools.
In Villupuram, the district administration announced that nearly 60,000 children studying in government schools would be covered under the scheme.
Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam distributed the bicycles to children at a function held in Tindivanam on Friday.
Wrongdoing ruled out
A controversy soon broke out as the front basket attached to the handlebar of the cycle had a Kannada logo.
Villupuram District Collector L. Subramanian ruled out any wrongdoing in the procurement of the bicycles.
All the parts of the bicycles were assembled locally and thoroughly checked for their quality before distributing them among children.
‘Due process followed’
The government had procured bicycles after following the due process and the same set of bicycles distributed to various districts had been sent to Villupuram.
The front basket attached to the bicycles could have been accidentally despatched.
The logo would be removed.
An enquiry has been ordered by the Chief Educational Officer into the incident, Subramanian added.