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City Heritage Gets Overdue Attention: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is carrying out urgent maintenance work on the Hazira mausoleum in Pratapnagar. The mausoleum (also known as Hazira Maqbara) contains the graves of Qutubuddin Muhammad Khan who was the tutor of Salim, son and successor of Akbar, and also that of his son Naurang Khan who held important offices in Gujarat under Akbar. Though the monument is structurally stable, waterproofing was required. The surrounding garden is also being spruced up. ASI plans to hold a photography exhibition at the site on January 26. The ASI is also working on the restoration of the Lehripura Gate, following which it may take up the restoration of the Gendi Gate and Champaner Gate. Work on Panigate had been completed in 2011. Gendi Gate was the southern gate of the ancient walled city. Champaner Gate faces north (towards Champaner). (18-01-2016)
High-Rise Residential Apartments: Some Baroda real estate players are proposing to build residential apartments beyond the current 12-floor limit. These developers have applied to the Gujarat government for the necessary special permissions to construct 70-metre tall apartments. Among the possibilities are a 23-storey complex on Bhayli Road and a 22-floor complex in Alkapuri. Barodians were introduced to the concept of high-rise apartments at the recently concluded CREDAI Vadodara Property Carnival. (16-01-2016)
India’s Loss-Making Airports: Out of India’s 96 loss-making airports, nine are in Gujarat. The Vadodara airport is one of these nine. The reasons are low air traffic, low non-aeronautical income from parking and shops, and reasonably good road connectivity. In 2014-15, Vadodara airport ran up losses of over Rs. 26 crore. Besides, Barodians can quickly drive down to Ahmedabad airport, where they can choose between several flight options. In order to stimulate revenues, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is developing cargo activities, encouraging non-aeronautical revenue through concessions, allowing operation of flying schools at non-operational airports, revising base rates and promoting maintenance, repair and overhauling (MRO) activities. Gujarat has 27 operational and non-operational airports, owned by the AAI, by the state government, by defence departments, and by private companies. (15-01-2016)
Medical Facilities In Rural Areas: In a bid to improve access to medical facilities in rural areas the Gujarat government may offer incentives to set up MRI and CT scan centres at district hospitals or district headquarters. The incentives may take the form of subsidy in equipment costs and waivers in stamp duty. The government also wants to encourage the setting up of medical colleges in rural areas by giving subsidies on interest, land at subsidised costs, exemption from electricity duty for five years, etc. (15-01-2016)
Ward-Wise Cleanliness Competition: In an effort to increase the awareness of cleanliness in the city the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has organised a ward-wise cleanliness competition. The city’s administrative wards will be encouraged to compete with each other in various categories: residential societies, apartments, poles, slums, shopping centers or malls, religious places, industrial areas, theatres, government or semi-government offices, open plots, clinics or hospitals, gardens, schools, colleges, vegetable markets and hotels or restaurants. The evaluation will be done from January 26 to March 20 and the winners will be announced on March 23. (14-01-2016)
Crocodile Park In Vadodara: The Gujarat government has finally approved 66 acres of land in Vadodara along the Vishwamitri river bank (near the Navlakhi grounds) for a Crocodile Park. Hopefully, this park will prevent crocodile attacks on humans and also become a tourist attraction. A grant of Rs. 10 crore has been sanctioned for the project; it will be handled by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). This activity is a part of the Vishwamitri riverfront development plan. (13-01-2016)
Gujarat’s Longest Flyover: Preliminary work has been started by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) towards the building of Gujarat’s longest flyover. Spanning a distance of 3.4 km, this flyover will be from Genda Circle to Manisha Crossroads. It will be longer than the 2.72 km Varachha flyover in Surat. (07-01-2016)
Space Audit At MS University: MS University officials have started a ‘space audit’ across its 275-acre campus to figure out how much available space the university actually has. The idea is to bridge the gap between the supply and the demand of classrooms, buildings and quarters. Some departments have excess facilities and some face a space crunch. Surprisingly, many university buildings and facilities, some of the built only recently, are either unused or used inefficiently. New construction could be halted pending completion of the audit. (04-01-2016)
Fatehgunj Flyover To Open On 25th December: The Fatehgunj flyover, at 1.1 km Vadodara’s longest so far, is expected to be thrown open to the public on 25th December. The flyover’s motorable part is ready for use; some ‘cosmetic’ work – parking, flower beds, food stalls – below the flyover remains to be completed, but this will not prevent the inauguration. Some of the flyover’s vital statistics: cost – Rs. 62.98 crores; length – 1142 metres; width – 16.5 metres; carriageway – 2 x 7.5 metres; central verge – 0.6 metres. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation may in future take up construction of a 3.4 km long flyover from Genda Circle to Old Padra Road; when that flyover becomes a reality it will be Gujarat’s longest. (21-12-2015)
Ticket Vending Machine At Vadodara Railway Station: The Vadodara railway station now offers commuters the facility of a card operated ticket vending machine (COTVM). If it works properly, it will help speed up the process of ticketing and payment. The Vadodara railway division has installed similar units at Bharuch and Anand railway stations too. The self-operated machine accepts currency notes, coins and smart cards. The kiosk accepts coins of Rs. five and Rs. 10 and currency notes of Rs. five and above; it does not accept soiled, cut or glued notes. It can also issue platform tickets, renew non-concessional season tickets and recharge smart cards. (20-12-2015)
Vadodara’s Home Museums: Mr. Chandrashekhar Patil is a Baroda based art curator who has been actively encouraging private collectors to start home museums so that interested persons can come to view them. The idea has caught on and many people have been roped in to participate. There are five home museums now: Gautamraje Memorial Art Gallery with a collection of paintings, Atul Shah’s collection of products that carried Gandhi's name for promotion, Manubhai Nirmal’s collection of unique lamps and toran, Mudita Shah's collection of 450 water pots used in different eras, Arun Majumdar's collection of calendars dating back to early 20th century. The museums are kept open on special occasions, and visiting times depend on each home owner's convenience. (16-12-2015)
NAAC Accreditation: Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University, a deemed university which is located at Piparia (18 kms from Vadodara), has qualified for 'A' grade accreditation from NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). Its cumulative grade point average (CGPA) was 3.53. The university ranks third on the basis of NAAC GCPA scores among universities offering medical, dental and allied health education. Seven of Gujarat’s 50 universities are NAAC accredited, and three of them have the A grade. (15-12-2015)
Promised Amenities Missing In Flats: A builder in Baroda has been ordered by a consumer court to shell out Rs. 12 lakhs as lifetime maintenance to an association of 24 flat owners of Vrundavan Residency. Each resident had earlier paid maintenance money of Rs. 50,000 to the builder, but many of the promised amenities were missing when the owners took possession of their flats. The flat owners then approached the consumer court with the help of Jagrut Nagrik, and the court directed the builder to pay up. (11-12-2015)
24-Hour Cybercrime Helpline: The Vadodara city police department has launched a 24-hour cybercrime helpline to combat online frauds. Though launched for Barodians, the helpline will assist callers from any location in Gujarat. The police will use the help of digital forensic experts in this activity. A specially trained staff of eight persons will be operating out of a suitably equipped office. The helpline number is 1800599901. Here are some general precautions which you should observe: do not provide your debit and credit card details to anyone over the telephone; do not rely on phone calls or emails which suggest that you have won some lottery; be wary of callers who claim to provide jobs abroad; be cautious about online matrimonial proposals. (08-12-2015)
City Police May Outsource Night Patrolling: The Vadodara city police department is experimenting with the idea of outsourcing night patrolling to private security agencies. The aim is to thus deploy more time and resources to crime investigation and detection. The experiment will start with the area under the Laxmipura police station; in this area night patrolling will be done by private security guards accompanied by regular policemen. If successful, this pilot project will be extended to other areas. This project will be funded by the Safe City Foundation. (06-12-2015)
A Little Help For Cameroon From Baroda: The Republic of Cameroon, a small country in Central Africa, has taken a little help from Baroda based Vatsalya Foundation to manufacture low-cost organic sanitary napkins in 20 villages in Cameroon. Vatsalya Foundation educates young girls and women about menstrual hygiene and attempts to remove prejudices concerning it. The organization manufactures and distributes sanitary napkins at just Rs 2. Vatsalya Foundation, started by Swati Bedekar, provides livelihood to underprivileged women who make the sanitary napkins and potters who manufacture the incinerators for the disposal of used napkins. (06-12-2015)
MS University Convocation: Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya will be the chief guest at MS University’s 64th Convocation on January 29, 2016. Mr. Panagariya, an Indian-American economist, is Professor of Economics at Columbia University and an ex-Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank. This will be the first convocation to be presided over by chancellor Shubhangini Raje Gaekwad. (06-12-2015)
Professor Manikrao Armoury Museum: The Professor Manikrao Armoury Museum near the Jummadada Akhada in Dandia Bazaar was open to the public in November as part of the Vadodara People's Heritage Festival. The Jummadada Akhada has been preserving the collection of weapons used by Mughals and Marathas. The armoury museum has a collection of over 250 weapons. The weapons were collected by the famous wrestler Jummadada and then by his pupil professor Manikrao. The Jummadada Akhada is also known as Shree Jummadada Vyayam Mandir or Jummadada Vyayam Shala. Jummadada started the akhada in 1880. Many years later, Professor Manikrao assumed charge of the akhada and he was given the title of Rajratna by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad. (06-12-2015)
Vadodara People’s Heritage Festival: Self-sponsored and self-financed, Barodians get together to celebrate our city’s 505th ‘birthday’ and applaud its heritage during National Heritage Week with a series of exciting activities, informative exhibitions, cycle tours and walks, bazaars, illustrated talks, and so on. Remember, this is a People’s Heritage Festival, and if you think you have an interesting nugget regarding the heritage of Vadodara to share with the rest of us, just get on board! This Heritage Week is completely self-sponsored and self-financed. We are all in it together to celebrate our city and its heritage which is our pride.
For the detailed list of activities, please click on: Vadodara People's Heritage Festival (18-11-2015)
Programmes For National Heritage Week: November 19: Heritage walk of old city with architect Karan Grover, starting at 7 a.m. from Collector’s Office at Kothi.

November 19 to 25: Photography exhibition titled ‘The Begda Legacy: Champaner, Pavagadh, Sarkhej Roza’, at 203, Mangaldhara, 83, Sampatrao colony, Alkapuri, 6 p.m. onwards.

November 20 to 25: Exhibition on hand-crafted textiles of Gujarat and photo exhibition by professor Jyoti Bhatt, at SITE Art Space, Makarpura Road, 4 p.m. onwards.

November 21: Heritage talk as part of annual Viraasat Lecture, at LVP Banquet Hall, 6 p.m. onwards.

November 22: Heritage cycle ride with architect Karan Grover, from Kamatibaug to old city, starting from Kamatibaug at 6.45 a.m.

November 22: Heritage photo walk by Rahul Gajjar, starting from Mandvi Gate at 7 a.m.

November 23 to 25: Exhibition of oleographs by Raja Ravi Varma, at Splatter Studio, 5 p.m.

November 24: Heritage talk on Raja Ravi Varma by Ramavarma Thampuran, at Raja Ravi Varma Studio, LVP Compound, 5 p.m.

For further information, please ring 9825577388. (18-11-2015)
Civic Elections May Be Delayed In Gujarat: It looks as if Gujarat’s local body elections will not be feasible before the end of 2015. The Supreme Court has extended its stay on the elections to the state’s municipal corporations, municipalities and panchayats till the next hearing on November 24. The Supreme Court had earlier stayed the process of civic elections following the filing of a PIL that challenged the ‘one ward, four councillors’ system adopted for urban local bodies. Should the polls be postponed beyond a point, administrator rule is the likely option in the six municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar. Polls are also due in 30 district panchayats, 200 taluka panchayats and 60 municipalities as soon as their terms end in October-November. District and taluka panchayats adhere to the ‘one ward, one member’ system. (29-09-2015)
Ganesh Festival Peaceful: Anant Chaturdashi, the last day of the 10-day Ganesh Festival, was generally peaceful on Sunday in Vadodara. Nearly 1,500 Ganesh idols were immersed during the day. About 6,000 police persons – including 4 DCPs, 9 ACPs, 30 Inspectors, 97 Sub-Inspectors and 1,825 Constables – were deployed to ensure that there were no untoward incidents. Two companies of the Rapid Action Force, four companies of SRP and over 3,200 Home Guards were also roped in. The security operation also took the help of two drones and 150 CCTV cameras. (28-09-2015)
Stability Certificate Compulsory For Buildings: Did you know that it is compulsory to have stability certificates for buildings in the city that are more than 15 years old? If you are the owner of such a building the General Development and Construction Rules (GDCR) of Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) stipulate that you must submit the stability certificate to the civic body. VMC has now issued a public notice asking people to comply with the rule immediately. The idea is to ensure that buildings are safe and corrective action is taken where necessary. (20-07-2015)
Unique Identification ‘Aadhaar’ Card: Do you have your Unique Identification ‘Aadhaar’ card? If you have not yet bothered to get the card you can still apply for it, till December 2015. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation is accepting new applications at their ward offices at Laheripura, Harni-Warasia Road, Waghodia Road, Pratapnagar, Raopura, Akota, Fatehgunj, Nagarwada, Ajwa Road, Subhanpura, Vasna Road, Makarpura and Chhani. Applications are also being accepted at Jubilee Baug and at the Planetarium. The entire process is free of cost. (20-07-2015)
Another PVR Multiplex In City: Cinema exhibition company PVR has added one more multiplex to the city, at VED Transcube Plaza in Vadodara’s Central Bus Terminal complex. The seven-screen multiplex has a total of 1,239 seats. This is the company’s third unit in Vadodara. PVR now has 48 screens spread over 11 locations in Gujarat. It has a presence in 43 Indian cities, with 474 screens in 106 properties. (20-07-2015)
Minority Status For Jains: The Jain community in Gujarat may soon be given minority status by the state government. What this means is that Jains will benefit from all minority welfare schemes and their institutions will have autonomy. Jain religious places like Palitana and Girnar will be freed from government control, and educational institutions run by Jain trusts can be run like other minority institutions. The central government has already notified Jains as a minority community. The other minority communities are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis (Zoroastrians). (01-07-2015)
Big Order For Bombardier Transportation: Bombardier Transportation, based at Savli near Vadodara, has received an order to supply 162 metro cars to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (DMRC). With this addition DMRC will have one of the largest metro fleets in the world. The order value is Rs. 15 billion. Bombardier Transportation employs around 1,100 people in India. Its facilities include the railway vehicle manufacturing and bogie assembly unit at Savli, a propulsion systems manufacturing facility at Maneja in Vadodara and a rail control solutions centre near Gurgaon. (01-07-2015)
Solar Panels Over City Flyover: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has set the ball rolling on a project to generate electric power from a solar panel dome to be constructed over the Akota-Dandia Bazaar flyover. The power will be used to light up street lamps. The project, which is expected to cost Rs. 25.5 crore, was inaugurated recently by Gujarat Energy Minister Mr. Saurabh Patel. Vadodara is perhaps the first city in the country to take up such a solar energy project. (25-06-2015)
Ventilator Shortage At SSG Hospital: A recent newspaper report suggests that Baroda’s SSG Hospital is running short of ventilators. Thanks to this sad fact, patients at the medical intensive care unit (MICU) are inconvenienced, to say the least. In one case, the patient’s relatives had to manually pump air to assist the patient in breathing for four days! The patient had been put on a ventilator at the MICU after he had suffered a heart attack. The manual pumping was resorted to because the ventilator was needed for another more serious case. It seems that the hospital has only 45 ventilators, and not all of them are fully functional. The procurement authority for this vital life support system is the central medical stores organization (CMSO) in Gandhinagar. (24-06-2015)
Solar Co-operative: Gujarat’s Anand district is working on the idea of setting up a ‘solar co-operative’ run by farmers. A local farmer has connected a solar-powered irrigation pump to the electricity grid, and his ‘solar crop sale' earned him a payment of Rs 7,500 from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). IWMI is promoting the concept of solar power as a lucrative crop (SPaRC). Solar power will be ‘grown’ and sold by the Solar Pump Irrigators Co-operative Enterprise (SPICE), a group of over 40 farmers. SPICE is working on the project with the help of Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Limited (MGVCL) and Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute (GERMI). Solar irrigation pumps are a boon for farmers with poor access to electricity and water. Besides, if India’s 20 million electric and diesel pumps are replaced with solar irrigation pumps, the country’s annual carbon emission can come down by about six per cent. IWMI estimates that 11 million farmers currently connected with the electricity grid across India could install solar-powered water pumps and sell the surplus energy they produce. IWMI, a scientific research organisation based in Colombo, works on water policy and groundwater governance issues. (23-06-2015)
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