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Private Schools May Have To Cut Fees: The Gujarat government proposes to set up a fee regulatory authority to look into the fees charged by private schools affiliated with the state board, CBSE, ICSE, etc. As a result, the fees could be cut by as much as 50%. A bill to this effect will need to be passed by the state assembly during its budget session which will begin on February 20. The fees charged by private schools are widely perceived to be astronomical and arbitrary, and there is a feeling that something needs to be done. If the government is successful there will be some relief for the parents of about 1.5 million students. (13-02-2017)
Paani, Paryavaran aur Padma Shri: Since inception in May 2011, the Vadodara Innovation Council has been spearheading the innovation movement with unique initiatives. It has arranged a public lecture (open to all) on February 12 by Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal from Punjab who was awarded the 'Hero of Environment’ title by TIME Magazine. Recently he was awarded Padma Shri. Seventeen years ago, along with a handful of his volunteers, he took on a mission to clean up a polluted river, Guru Nanak's historic river Kali Bein, the 160-km long tributary of Beas in Punjab. He succeeded in transforming it beyond imagination. Sant's low-cost underground sewage system model, also known as the ‘Seechewal Model’, treats stored sewage water in a natural way, using it for agriculture and irrigation. This model has benefitted around 50 villages and the Government of India has approached the Sant to consider this model in the cleaning of River Ganga. A crusader for the environment, Sant Balbir Singh has established plant nurseries at Seechewal and Sultanpur Lodhi where one lakh plants are distributed annually free of cost among the people. He has also played an important role in establishing schools, technical centres, degree colleges, FM Radio station besides being instrumental in eradicating poverty, the drug menace, superstition and atrocities against women. This program is free and open to all (Date: 12-02-2017; Time: 10 a.m. to 12 noon; Venue: Baroda High School, Alkapuri, Vadodara).
Please register on: https://goo.gl/forms/P1vx8deCEfZq4mav1 (06-02-2017)
R.C. Dutt Road Getting Wider: Now that many unauthorised constructions have been demolished on R.C. Dutt Road leading to the western side of the railway station, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is planning to increase the road width to 30 meters. Many senior government officials – for instance, the district collector, the police commissioner and the district development officer – have their official bungalows on this road and their bungalow boundaries will be curtailed to the extent required. Some railway properties are also encroaching on the road and the railway authorities will make the necessary adjustments along the road line. VMC will also have to acquire land on the side opposite the railway station and private property owners will have to make some adjustments; in return the civic body will give some compensation, probably in the form of increased floor-space index for more construction on the same land. The road from the railway station to Genda Circle via Alkapuri will be widened to 18 meters. VMC has also started to widen the road connecting Panigate and Mandvi. Besides, the walls of the Police Bhavan on the Jail Road are being moved in because this road is being widened too. (04-02-2017)
Railway Staff College Celebrates 66th Foundation Day: The Baroda based National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) recently celebrated its 66th Foundation Day. Formerly known as Railway Staff College, NAIR is a centralised training institute for Group A and B officers of Indian Railways. The academy also trains officers of other services of the Government of India, public sector undertakings and those from foreign railways. Headed by a Director General and manned by a faculty of experienced railway managers and experts, the academy is housed in the sprawling 55-acre campus of the Pratap Vilas Palace at Lalbaug. (03-02-2017)
Vadodara Marathon On 5th February: The sixth edition of Vadodara Marathon, to be held on 5th February, will for the first time be a full international marathon. Over 200 foreign nationals will be among the 40,000 people who are expected to participate in the run. The last date for registration is 22nd January. The Vadodara Marathon began in 2009 with an international half marathon. Also participating this year are 40 NGOs and 45 companies. ONGC Petro Additions Ltd. (OPaL) is the title sponsor this time. The categories: full marathon (42.195km), half marathon (21.89km), 10 km run, Divyang Run (8 km), Swachchta Run (5 km), Pledge Run to support NGOs (5 km). (18-01-2017)
Jail Road To Be Widened: It was almost 20 years ago that the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) had decided to widen the Jail Road. Now it seems that this project will soon be taken up for implementation, and the road width will be increased from 24 meters to 40 meters. Connecting Kala Ghoda and Dandia Bazar, this road was once a small stretch of the national highway. It has several major public buildings along its length: Narmada Bhavan, Police Bhavan, Vadodara Central Jail, SSG Hospital, medical college student hostels. Some land belonging to the royal Gaekwad family is also on the road. All the concerned property owners have been informed of VMC’s decision to acquire the land necessary to widen the road. The Gaekwad family has already begun making some adjustments at the boundaries of their properties along the road. (18-01-2017)
Petrol & Diesel Prices Increased: With effect from midnight on 1st January, 2017, state-run fuel retailers have increased the price of petrol by Rs 1.29 per litre and the price of diesel by Rs 0.97 per litre. For Barodians the rate per litre effectively moves up from Rs. 69.98 to Rs. 71.48 for petrol and from Rs. 62.71 to Rs. Rs 63.86 for diesel. The subsidised gas cylinder price has increased by Rs. 2 and the non-subsidised gas cylinder price by Rs. 1. (01-01-2017)

Many Shops Demolished Near Railway Station:
Vadodara Municipal Corporation removed 38 shops near the Vadodara Railway Station on 1st January (Sunday). The civic body has issued notices to 71 shops in this area. The demolition operation was carried out by a team of 200 persons which included municipal employees, electricity department staff and police personnel. The equipment used: 15 JCB machines, two bulldozers, 10 breakers, two cutters and two generators. The entire area is being cleared in order to allow the civic authorities to draw up a new plan which will integrate the railway station, state transport bus depot, city bus terminal and the adjacent MS University campus. (01-01-2017)
Vadodara Makes Room For New Universities: The MS University of Baroda has company, and the district will perhaps become an educational hub. The Vadodara district administration has in the recent past identified land for several new educational campuses near the city: 100 acres at Piparia in Waghodia taluka for the country’s first Railway university; 53 hectares for a sports university in Desar village of Savli taluka; 97 hectares for ‘Central University of Gujarat’ at Kundheda village of Dabhoi taluka; 50 acres at Dumad for the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Vadodara, which is temporarily at Gandhinagar; 25 acres in the IT Park at Dumad for GSFC (Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited) University; 20 acres at Dumad for Teachers and Children's University; 47 hectares at Dumad for an IT park for private companies. (23-12-2016)
MG Road Congestion: The congested MG Road stretch between Mandvi and Panigate is likely to be widened, if the proposal is approved. Though a road line drawn up in 1972 allows for a width of 50 to 55 ft, the present width of the road varies from 40 to 45 ft. The corporation’s Standing Committee’s approval is needed to acquire the land for the widening project. The compensation for the acquired land can be in the form of extra floor-space index benefits, houses in VMC schemes or cash. Incidentally, the compound wall and the entrance gate of the famous Jamnabai Hospital (built in 1882) also spill into the road and will have to be moved. (22-12-2016)
Proposal To Relocate Vadodara Central Jail: Some time back there was a proposal to shift the 125-year-old Vadodara Central Jail to a site near Pasva, a village 30 km from the city in the Savli taluka of Vadodara district. The vacated 56-acre jail plot could instead be used to set up an artisan park. The Gujarat government has even sanctioned Rs. 180 crore to make the shift. However, some of the concerned authorities have a few reservations. Some of the objections: waste of time and money transporting prisoners to and from the courts in Vadodara (almost 500 of the jail’s 2,500 prisoners are produced in court daily); medical emergencies would mean additional risks for prisoners who have to be rushed over a longer distance to the government hospital in the city; regularly transporting prisoners over the longer distance will mean increased security risks; it will be more difficult for lawyers and relatives to visit the prisoners. (21-12-2016)
Free Wi-Fi At Vadodara Railway Station: RailTel Corporation in association with Google has now launched a free Wi-Fi facility at Vadodara railway station with a total bandwidth of 1.25 GBPS. Available on all of the station’s seven platforms, the service can be accessed without any restriction on any smartphone or laptop. Pornographic websites are barred of course. The speed: 5 Mbps for the first hour, and thereafter 1 Mbps. RailTel Corporation, a ‘Mini Ratna (Category-I)’ public sector undertaking, is one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure providers in the country. It owns a pan-India optic fiber network on exclusive Right of Way (ROW) along railway tracks. The network services all important towns and cities and several rural areas covering 70% of India's population. (20-12-2016)
Alumni Registration Made Compulsory At MS University: Alumni registration has now been made compulsory for all graduating MS University of Baroda students who will receive their degrees at the next convocation. Students will therefore have to pay more from the next academic year. Besides the convocation charges of Rs. 410, students will have to pay Rs. 1,000 as alumni registration charges. Until now, each faculty or department had its own alumni body; now there will be a centralised alumni association. (20-12-2016)
City Tourist Bus Round The Corner: The tourist bus service of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is likely to be started soon, but no date has been promised. VMC is waiting to get the necessary permits and recruit suitable staff. The bus has been made at a cost of about Rs. 30 lakh, and a part – Rs. 25 lakh – was donated from Vadodara MP Ranjan Bhatt’s Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds. The route of the air conditioned luxury bus will cover the city’s major monuments and Ajwa and Nimeta. The tour will be operated by VMC’s heritage cell. Trained guides are expected to be roped in. (19-12-2016)
Vadodara May Get Gujarat’s Second Longest Flyover: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has planned a fairly ambitious flyover (almost 3.5 km long) starting from Genda Circle, going over GEB Circle, Chakli Circle and Lion's Circle before finally ‘landing’ at Manisha Crossroads. Expected to cost a bit over Rs. 288 crore, it will be the second longest in Gujarat; Surat’s Varachha flyover spans a greater distance. The Gujarat Municipal Finance Board may provide financial assistance for this project if the state government approves it in principle. The latest VMC budget has made a provision of Rs. 200 crore for this flyover. (18-12-2016)
Good News For MS University of Baroda: The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has recently given ‘A’ grade to MS University of Baroda. MSU got 3.16 cumulative grade points average (CGPA). In the previous assessment, in 2010, MSU had got ‘B’ grade. NAAC, an autonomous body of the University Grants Commission, accredits Indian higher education institutes. The 12-member peer team which assessed MSU was headed by vice-chancellor of Bilaspur University professor Gauri Dutta Sharma. Other team members included Dr. Vilas Kharat from University of Pune, professor Vunnam Venkaiah of Krishna University, Hyderabad, professor Prafullakumar Mishra of North Odisha University, and Dr. N. Sundararajan of Jain University, Bangalore. This piece of good news was received by MSU just before its recent 65th convocation. (17-12-2016)
Scholarships For Deserving MSU Techo Students: When students of the 1966 batch of MSU Techo (Faculty of Technology& Engineering, known as Kalabhavan until 1949) met recently in Baroda for their golden jubilee celebrations, they decided to give merit based financial assistance to deserving current students of the faculty who are from economically weak backgrounds. Scholarships will be given to six to eight deserving students. The alumni also decided to bear the cost for an impressive new entrance gate on the side of the faculty which faces the Polo Ground. They have asked for information about other areas where they may be able to help the faculty. Incidentally, 80% of the 356 engineers from the 1966 batch have settled abroad. (16-12-2016)
Vadodara Municipal Commissioner Adopts 25 Anganwadis: In a move to improve the functioning of the city’s 325 anganwadis, 60 Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) officials will ‘adopt’ and monitor the functioning of 5 anganwadis each and the Municipal Commissioner Dr. Vinod Rao will adopt the remaining 25. Hopefully, this effort will aid the Malnutrition Free Vadodara Mission. Each official is expected to pay a weekly visit to the anganwadis under his charge and suggest improvements. They will also be responsible for ensuring that the basic infrastructure needs are being met. Somewhere down the line corporate help may also be invited. The anganwadis cater to children in the 3 to 5 years age group. (15-12-2016)
First Flight Lands At Vadodara International Airport: The first flight landed at the new Vadodara International Airport on November 30. All scheduled flights will land regularly at this airport from 1st December. Though the terminal building had been inaugurated in October, it was not operational because airline operators needed time to prepare new counters. The new building is a GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) rated green international airport, Gujarat's first and India’s second. The complex is spread over 17,500 square metres. It can handle 700 passengers at its peak, 500 domestic and 200 international, that is, 16,800 passengers a day. However, since the existing runway is only 8,100 feet long, this airport is unsuitable for big aircraft; for long-distance flights to USA or UK passengers will still have to depend on the Ahmedabad airport. (01-12-2016)
Colleges Must Set Up Facilities For Cashless Transactions: The Gujarat education department has directed all colleges in the state, run by the state or run privately, to set up facilities for cashless transactions. The government circular says that all colleges and educational institutes under state-run and private universities must set up systems so that students can pay fees through online payment, points of sale (POS) machines and e-wallet facilities. The deadline: December 1, 2016. (01-12-2016)
MSU Convocation on December 17: The 65th convocation of MS University of Baroda will be held on December 17. The eminent computer scientist Dr. Vijay Bhatkar will be the chief guest, and Lord Bhikhu Parekh will be the guest of honour. The convocation is beeing held early this year in order to make it easier for students who wish to take up further courses in universities abroad. (18-11-2016)
New Sports Complex At MSU: MS University plans to build a multi-purpose indoor sports complex, with some help from Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG). It will be located on the Union Pavilion grounds. SAG will give a grant of Rs. eight crore, and MSU will contribute 25 %. The city already has two major sports complexes – the Manjalpur Outdoor Sports Complex and the Sama Indoor Sports Complex – which are both owned by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation. Work on the new complex is expected to start by mid-December. It will be spread over 2,400 square metres. (15-11-2016)
Hippopotamuses for Sayajibaug Zoo: The Sayajibaug zoo is expected to get two hippopotamuses (or two hippopotami?) from the zoo at Indore. The Sayajibaug zoo, run by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, will get the hippos from Indore’s Kamala Nehru Zoo; in exchange, the Indore zoo will be given some exotic birds (silver pheasants, a red lory and an Amazon parrot). The hippos are 15 years old and nine years old. The Sayajibaug zoo did have a hippo, named Mangal, but it died in 2011. (09-10-2016)
Vadodara International Airport: The Vadodara International Airport at Harni will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 22. This airport will be India’s second 'green' airport, the first being the one at Chandigarh. Built at a cost of Rs. 162 crore, it will be able to handle 500 domestic and 200 international passengers. The runway is 8,100 feet long. (09-10-2016)
Octogenarian Barodian Honoured: Vadodara based octogenarian Dr. Bhagwati Oza – a gynaecologist – has won the National Award for Older Persons for Sports and Adventure. The award was recently given to her by President Pranab Mukherjee. Dr. Oza has won over 100 medals in athletics and swimming at the national and international levels. Among her many achievements: a 3,000 km cycle trip from Kolkata to Kanyakumari at the age of 75, scuba diving and mountain climbing. (08-10-2016)
MSU Proposes New Russian Courses: The Department of Russian Studies at MS University’s Faculty of Arts proposes to offer two new post-graduate courses – an MA Russian Studies Programme under the Ministry of Human Resource Development's National Mission on Education and an MA Russian (Military Aviation) Programme for defence personnel. The faculty board has approved these courses, but the MSU Syndicate approval is awaited. (08-10-2016)
Children Must Wear Full-Sleeved Clothes: The Gujarat government’s health department has instructed authorities at 40,000 primary schools and 10,000 secondary and higher secondary schools to encourage students to wear full-sleeved clothes. This step is a preventive measure to halt the spread of mosquito-related diseases like dengue and malaria. Schools have been told not to insist on children wearing their uniforms if the uniforms do not include full-sleeved clothes. Similar notifications have also been issued to private and government-run schools. (15-09-2016)
No Aadhaar Card, No Train Ticket: The time is not far away when you will not be able to book a rail ticket without an Aadhaar Card. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is working towards this objective; the deadline may perhaps be as early as December 2016. Considering that 96 per sent of Indians already have Aadhaar cards, it may now not take long for the other four per cent to jump on to the bandwagon. The Aadhaar Card is likely to be compulsory for all train tickets – reserved tickets, unreserved tickets, online tickets, counter tickets, even the 50 categries of concession-rate tickets. In addition to its many advantages, this move should help to eliminate fraudulent bookings by unauthorised agents. (14-09-2016)
Enrollment of New Voters & Aadhar Card Registration: The election commission will hold a drive to update the voters’ list from Thursday, 15th September. Adding of new names to the voters’ list or making corrections in the list will be done on September 18, September 25 and October 9 by booth level officers on the spot. The election commission will also issue plastic voting cards to all voters (price Rs. 30). Voters can get their cards issued at Narmada Bhawan on Jail Road. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation will make registrations for Aadhar card till September 30 (even on Sundays and holidays) at the Public Health Laboratory at Laheripura, Sardar Patel Planetarium, Jubilee Baug, Manjalpur Sports Complex, Sama Sports Complex and all ward offices (except ward number one). (13-09-2016)
Get Your Number Plate Along With Your Car: If things go according to plans at Gujarat’s state transport department, buyers will soon be able to pick up their new cars from the dealers with the high security registration plates (HSRP), popularly called number plates, already fitted. Presently, the procedure of getting the number plates can take a month and several bothersome visits to the RTO office. Buyers in Ahmedabad will be the first beneficiaries of this innovation, followed thereafter by those in Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot. All of Gujarat will be covered by next year. Plans are afoot to hand over the RC books too along with the vehicle. More than 1.3 million new vehicles are registered every year in the state. (13-09-2016)
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