Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s pet project Sabuj Sathi, which has benefitted more than 70 lakh students of classes between IX and XII of state-run, aided schools and madrasas, has been selected among the top five most voted projects by the United Nations.The project is one-of-its-kind in the country in which bicycles are given free of cost to the students across the state. This is for the first time when any project from Bengal has been selected for the prestigious WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) Prize, 2019. The WSIS Prizes will be announced to the public during the ceremony at the WSIS Forum on April 9 in Geneva. WSIS Prizes are organised by the International Telecom Union, an arm of the United Nations and supported by the UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs). All the nominated projects are scrutinised by the high-level expert committee. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseThe message that has been sent to the state Backward Class Welfare department read: “Congratulations! It is with great pleasure to inform you that Sabuj Sathi Online 2.0- wheels of change of the Backward Classes Welfare Department has been selected as the WSIS Prize 2019 Champion for the category 7- AL C7. ICT applications: benefits in all aspects of life-E-government.” It was learnt that more than two million votes had been cast by the WSIS stakeholders’ community. A total of 1,064 nominated ICT success stories from around the world were nominated. Sabuj Sathi is among the top five most voted in Category 7. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataAmit Mitra, the state Finance minister, announced the distribution of bicycles among state-run, aided schools and madrasas during his Budget speech for 2015-16. Initially, it was estimated that cycles will be distributed among 40 lakh students. Till date, cycles have been distributed among more than 70 lakh students at an estimated cost of Rs 2,300 crore. The first batch of cycles was distributed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a public distribution meeting in October 2015 in Gopiballavpur Block I, then in West Midnapore and now in Jharkhand. Mamata Banerjee had named the project ‘Sabuj Sathi’ and sketched the logo which is affixed on every cycle. The cycles have been supplied by top three manufacturers in India, namely Avon, Tube Investment of India Limited (Hercules) and Hero. The Backward Classes Welfare department has lists of all the students who have received the cycles along with the names of their schools, guardians, class in which they were in when they had received the cycle along with the date. About 4,500 trucks along with 3,000 fitters containing spares of the cycles reached the district headquarters from where they were sent to the schools. The Backward Classes Welfare department has given training to 3,500 SC and ST unemployed youths to assemble the cycles. The cycles are maintained by the state government for about a year.