Kolkata: In West Bengal, 78.9 per cent of the households have bicycles, the highest in the country, as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).

While the national average is 50.4 percent, Uttar Pradesh holds the second rank with 75.6 per cent of the households owning a bicycle, it said.

In Odisha, 72.5 per cent of the households own a bicycle, while in Chattisgarh, the figure is 70.8 per cent. It is followed by Assam (70.3 per cent), Punjab (67.8 per cent), Jharkhand (66.3 per cent) and Bihar (64.8 per cent), said the 2019-21 report.

Nagaland has the lowest number of households owning a bicycle at 5.5 per cent, while in Sikkim it is 5.9 per cent.

Among other states, 29.9 per cent of Gujarat households own a bicycle, and in Delhi, it is 27.2 per cent, the report stated.

A senior West Bengal government official said the top spot could be bagged because of the state government’s ‘Sabooj Sathi’ scheme.

“As a part of the scheme, bicycles are given to students of classes 9 to 12. This is the primary reason why we have seen a surge in the number of bicycle users in West Bengal. This scheme is not only helping the students but also their families,” the official said.

The bicycle is also the preferred mode of transportation for many in areas where there is a gap in public transport, he said.

“Not only in rural Bengal, bicycles are also preferred in areas such as New Town near Kolkata as it is environment friendly. There are separate bicycle lanes being built alongside roads in Salt Lake and New Town. There are plans to build such lanes in other cities as well,” the official said.

Till May 11, 1,03,97,444 students have received bicycles in West Bengal under the ‘Sabooj Sathi’ scheme.

Reacting to this, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “I am extremely happy today.”

Addressing an administrative meeting, she announced a bicycle manufacturing hub at the Vidyasagar Industrial Park in Kharagpur.

She directed chief secretary HK Dwivedi to ensure that companies that will set up the bicycle manufacturing hub face no “disturbance”.

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