The Pune Cycle Pratishthan has urged Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to gift bicycles to schoolgirls. Jugal S Rathi and Dilip Sarda of the city-based organisation have written to the Chief Minister requesting him to make a budget provision in 2011-’12 for providing bicycles to schoolgirls.
“Better access to schools translates into better education for girls. This is the real measure for empowering women and facilitating sustainable development,” said Rathi in a statement. Citing the initiative by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Rathi said, “The project of providing bicycles to school girls became Nitish’s dream project and may played a vital role in his second term victory in the Bihar general elections. In over three years, Bihar has spent around Rs 176 crore on the project and the attendance of girls at school has improved by over a million.”
“Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik pushed the idea in his state and West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is the third CM to pedal this power to ensure girls can access schools easily,” the statement said.
In the letter, the organisation expressed hope that Maharashtra would become the next state to adopt this project. “We have also requested the CM to formulate a bicycle policy with the objective of ensuring that over the next five years the number of bicycles used in the state will equal the number of auto/fuel vehicles, if not more,” said Sarda.
A list of the benefits of such a policy has also been included in the letter. “The funds required is minimal and the benefits are phenomenal. It is an economic and alternative mode of short distance travel. Add to that its eco-friendly quality and its role as an easy fitness machine,” said Sarda.