Why Have ‘Mo Cycles’ Landed Up In A Scrapyard?

Bhubaneswar: It seems the death knell of the state government’s ambitious ‘Mo Cycle’ scheme was sounded within days of it being launched in 2018 during the Men’s Hockey World Cup.

Around a dozen bikes of the Mo Cycle scheme went missing within barely 10 days of the launch. Then, within a year, there was a drastic fall in its users owing to the city streets not being ‘cycle-friendly.’

The jinx is never-ending because now, ‘Mo Cycles’ are rotting away, being sold as scrap for Rs 40 per kg. Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Sanjay Singh on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into irregularities pertaining to ‘Mo Cycles.’

Hundreds of ‘Mo cycles’ bought by Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) for Rs 25,000 each, were seen at the scrapyard located at a slum near AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, The New Indian Express (TNIE) reported. It quoted a senior BSCL official as saying that an FIR will be lodged against Hero Youon, one of the three private companies that manage Hexi cycles under public bicycle sharing (PBS) system in the city.

“As per Hexi group, the excess number cycles have been sent to the scrapyard. However, I have asked BSCL and BMC officials to conduct a thorough inquiry into the matter for necessary action at our end,” Singh, who is also the CEO of BSCL, was quoted as saying. All schemes of Smart City are also being reviewed. Steps will be taken to revive the Mo Cycle project after due consultation with the State government, he added.

Notably, the ‘Mo Cycle’ service which was under the Capital Region Urban Transport (CRUT) since 2018, was handed over to BMC and BSCL in October last year.

Why did the cycles rot in the first place?

There was a stalemate between BSCL and Hero Youon Pvt Ltd over non-payment of GST amount. Around 1,000 Hexi cycles with 700 in working condition were left to rot in the open at docking stations across the city, as per the TNIE report.

The firm while working under CRUT had been fined around Rs 45 lakh for allegedly claiming GST without paying tax to the government and not spending the Rs 5,000 it was paid for annual maintenance of each cycle. Subsequently, its payments were blocked to adjust the fine amount. Later, Hero Youon allegedly refused to take responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the Hexi cycles, after non-payment of its dues, the report added.

Good scheme, badly implemented

Unfortunately, the ‘Mo Cycle’ scheme was not backed with other facilities to ensure its success. The popularity of the scheme started plummeting within a month of its launch. In response to an RTI in 2019, CRUT said revealed that there was an 83 per cent decline in the number of ‘Mo Cycle’ users between December 2018 and March 2019.

Most of it was attributed to encroachment by vendors on the dedicated cycle tracks.

The bicycles are equipped with a GPS tracking system and smart locks and can be rented through a mobile app. They also have special features such as adjustable seats and utility baskets.

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