Tamil Nadu govt school students selling off free bicycles over ‘poor quality’

When asked about it, the owner of a shop who wished not to be named told TNIE that the cycles were of poor quality and the students could not afford to repair or replace accessories sell them off.
Free bicycles given by the government displayed at a cycle store in Chetty Street, Coimbatore
Free bicycles given by the government displayed at a cycle store in Chetty Street, Coimbatore Photo | S Senbagapandiyan

COIMBATORE: Over a year after receiving free bicycles from the state government, several class 11 students have sold them off allegedly due to their poor quality. In some cases, parents who need money too sell them off, sources said. TNIE saw several such bicycles (both male and female models) displayed in shops situated on Selvapuram and Chetty Street in Coimbatore on Friday. The male model cycles are priced between Rs 2,000-Rs 2,300 and female models are priced Rs 1,800- Rs 2,000.

When asked about it, the owner of a shop who wished not to be named told TNIE that the cycles were of poor quality and the students could not afford to repair or replace accessories sell them off. “Several cycles were not in proper shape. The brakes were not working and the wheel rim was out of shape. In some the tubes were torn, while in others the seat covers were not fitted properly, the accessories were of bad quality. Students should first repair the cycles to ride safely. For this, they should spend Rs 500- Rs 700,” he said.

He claimed that many chose to sell the cycles for Rs 800- Rs 1,000 instead of repairing them. He said that if the government had given cycles of better quality, most students would not have sold them.

An employee in a shop said, “We buy cycles from students by paying a maximum of Rs 900 as we have to refit them, change tyre tubes, etc. After that, we sell them for Rs 1800 -Rs 2300 depending on the condition. sell sell them for Rs 1,800-Rs 2,300 depending on the condition.” When asked about the bicycle of female students, he said many fathers who are addicted to alcohol sold their daughters’ cycles to buy liquor.

A class 12 student, C Ganesh (name changed) at Corporation Higher Secondary School at Selvapuram told TNIE, “I was in class 11 last year when I received a bicycle in February, but it was of substandard quality. I approached a shop for repair, but the owner said it would cost Rs 550. So I sold it to him for Rs 900 and used it as pocket money.”

When asked about it, the headmaster of a government higher secondary school said the objective of the cost-free bicycles scheme is to encourage students attend school regularly, especially students from rural regions of TN. “But the bicycles are of very poor quality. The students are afraid to ride them and are selling them. Shop owners are doing good business and it should be stopped immediately. In our school, except for a few, most students come to school by walking or by bus.”

Tamil Nadu Teachers and School Protection Association president R Ramkumar said the issue prevails across the state and urged the school education department to ensure the students use the free bicycles by issuing good quality ones.

When contacted, a top officer in the school education department told TNIE that selling the bicycles off was illegal and that the matter will be looked into immediately.

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