Bicycle bank to help poor students ride their way to better education

Pedalling in a new initiative, the Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute (BARTI) in the city has started a bicycle bank for students who need to travel from different parts of the city to BARTI for its library facilities. On Tuesday, BARTI gave away 15 bicycles and will follow it up with 300 in two months.

"The students are from economically weaker sections of society and stay in government hostels. They usually have to walk or take buses to reach the library from different parts of the city. After discussions with students, it was decided that bicycles would help them. Fifteen of them applied and we have asked for more applications," said Rohi Shetty, project director, special projects, BARTI.

The students are mainly those preparing for competitive examinations like the UPSC and MPSC.

Another BARTI official said students who travel long distances to study at the library could bring their lunch and stay for the whole day. "Providing them with a mode of transportation has made it easy for them. We have, as of now, provided bicycles to 14 boys and a girl. The target is 300 students,'' said the official.

The reasons officials chose bicycles were many; low maintenance costs, no fuel, no taxes or licence, easy parking and being environment friendly.

Students who received the cycles are happy.

Paresh Kadekar, a class XI science student and second year BA student Swati Dhanwe, who stays in a women's hostel, said they were happy as they could reach the library without having to wait for a bus. Mahadeo Kankure of Yerawada, preparing for MPSC, was glad to receive a cycle as it would help him reach the institute on time and avoid wasting precious hours.

The initiative took off after a discussion with the BARTI director general.

The GM of Union Bank of India was happy to sanction Rs 50,000 from the bank's corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the unique project. "The proprietor of Sardar Cycle Mart supported the endeavour providing 15 bicycles (Hercules Sparx) at a highly discounted rate,'' added the official.

The institute proposes to collaborate with public sector banks and companies for 300 bicycles and replicate the initiative in other cities of the state where it conducts coaching classes to groom students from the weaker sections of society for competitive exams.

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