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Gotri Medical College proposes new postgraduate courses in ENT, pulmonary medicine and psychiatry: The Gujarat Medical Education And Research Society Medical College (GMERS) at Gotri in Vadodara plans to offer three new postgraduate (PG) courses. GMERS Medical College is affiliated to the MS University of Baroda. It has formally applied for the new courses to the Medical Council of India (MCI) through the Government of India. The proposed new courses are in the subjects of ENT, pulmonary medicine and psychiatry. MCI is likely to conduct the necessary inspection later this year, following which the new courses can be started in the coming academic year. Three seats are likely to be sanctioned in each of the three subjects. (23-04-2018)
Vadodara’s satellite railway station at Chhayapuri will be ready by December: The Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project will take over one platform of the Vadodara railway station and also compel the railway authorities to shift some traffic away from the station in order to make way for the requirements for the bullet train. The Vadodara railway station handles over 200 passenger trains daily. To ease this load a bit it has been decided that six to seven Ahmedabad bound trains coming from Delhi and Madhya Pradesh should skip the Vadodara station and be diverted to a new satellite station at Chhayapuri. Construction has started on the satellite station and it is expected to be ready by December this year. The new station will cost Rs. 40 crore; financial assistance is being given by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited, the company which is implementing the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project. (22-04-2018)
Baroda Dairy cuts procurement price paid to dairy farmers: The Vadodara District Cooperative Milk Producers Union, better known as Baroda Dairy, pays Rs. 700 per kg of fat as the procurement price to its dairy farmers. It has now cut this rate to Rs. 640. Baroda Dairy deals with 1.25 lakh milk producers of 1,237 village societies in the districts of Vadodara, Chhotaudepur and Narmada. It collects 7 lakh kg per day (LKPD) of milk from the village societies, out of which 5 LKPD is sent for the people in Vadodara city and 2 LKPD is sent to the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation. The cut in the procurement price is perhaps a result of the fall in the global skimmed milk powder rates. (21-04-2018)
Vatsalya Foundation distributes low-cost sanitary napkins: Baroda based Vatsalya Foundation has begun providing low-cost sanitary napkin vending machines at prominent locations in the city. The foundation has made a start with two vending machines at the main bus depot near the Vadodara railway station. The target is 21 locations, including the new district court premises, women’s hostels on the MS University campus, railway platforms, aanganwadis and the Makarpura bus depot. The vending machines do not need electricity to function. Two napkins cost Rs. 5. According to its website, Vatsalya Foundation “manufactures and distributes sanitary napkins at a low cost under the brand name ‘Sakhi’. …. it provides these napkins at a minimal cost so that women can make a switch from cloth rags to sanitary napkins. … For the safe disposal of used napkins it has designed a clay incinerator.” (20-04-2018)
Commercial driving licence will not be needed to drive taxis: The Ministry of Road Transport has announced that you will no longer need a separate commercial licence to drive taxis, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and e-rickshaws; your private licence will be enough. Commercial licences will be needed only to drive trucks, buses and similar heavy vehicles. All states have been advised accordingly. This applies to driving all light motor vehicles, transport, non-transport or commercial; the private driving licence will now be enough for all legal intents and purposes. This new rule may also help to end corruption in obtaining transport licences. It has also been suggested that states should end the practice of issuing badges for commercial vehicle drivers. This move will make it easier to get taxis and autorickshaws and reduce drivers’ dependence on private vehicles. It seems that one taxi can replace at least six private cars, and one autorickshaw can replace about 12 cars. (20-04-2018)
Citizens can afford more vehicles, the city cannot: According to the regional transport office (RTO) the number of vehicles in Vadodara district have gone up from 9,48,091 in 2007 to 20,27,697 in 2017. In this period cars have increased from 94,724 to 2,47,970; taxis from 5,192 to 9,444; jeeps from 5,214 to 17,450; autorickshaws from 34,023 to 87,861; motorbikes from 5,18,244 to 11,33,779; mopeds from 2,18,926 to 3,70,663; light vehicles from 2,435 to 29,300. Every second person in Vadodara city owns one vehicle now. The city finds it difficult to handle the overload of vehicles, the police find it difficult to manage the traffic, the roads are not wide enough, parking is inadequate, and the pollution is oppressive. The municipal bus service can help but it needs a lot of improvement. (19-04-2018)
Hockey association may get a better deal from civic body: The Baroda District Hockey Association (BDHA) had been conducting its various events at the Kalabhavan hockey ground, until one fine day when the ground was sealed by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) because the property taxes had not been paid. BDHA is not wealthy enough to pay the annual tax bill of Rs. 5.41 lakh; over the years the unpaid taxes have piled up to Rs. 31.6 lakh. The Baroda royal family, which owns the ground, paid up the arrears for BDHA, and then locked up the ground. Hockey lovers made representations to the civic body, and it looks as if VMC may have a change of heart and levy a more palatable rate. The current rate is the one applicable for sports facilities like club houses, gymkhanas, sports stadiums, cinema halls, multiplexes, open air theatres, halls and similar facilities. The revised rate may be the one applicable for properties used for charitable purposes. The final decision will need to be approved by the state government. (19-04-2018)
Yellow fever vaccination centre may be set up in city: People travelling abroad sometimes have to compulsorily take a yellow fever vaccination. Gujarat has six yellow fever vaccination centres – at Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Porbandar, Jamnagar and Kandla – but not at Vadodara. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation now plans to have one such centre in the city. It proposes to charge Rs. 500 for the vaccination. The vaccine is provided by the government, and the civic body will issue the certificate. The proposal is awaiting the standing committee’s approval. (19-04-2018)
It’s summer, and the heat is oppressive: The summer heat is oppressive, and it is taking its toll all over Gujarat. Between April 1 and 15 the 108 service of EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute) attended to over 10,000 heat-related emergencies, which means over 665 cases daily. During the same period the emergency service in Vadodara received over 490 calls. As the heat rises the city’s roads become deserted. Many well-meaning citizens have set up road-side counters to freely distribute drinking water and buttermilk. People have been advised to stay indoors to the extent possible. (18-04-2018)
Dengue has to be handled with care: Dengue is not an easy health problem to deal with. It appears that there is no drug to treat it, and the approach so far is to provide symptomatic relief, advise rest and give adequate hydration. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease in the world today; there are about 400 million infections every year. It is now reported that Indian scientists have developed an Ayurvedic drug to tackle dengue. The regional research centre of the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) at Belgaum in Karnataka has done pilot studies to prove the drug’s clinical safety and efficacy. The pilot studies were conducted in Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon, and in medical colleges at Belgaum and Kolar. In the pilot study patients were given the drug in concentrated liquid form; in the clinical trial, the drug is being administered in tablet form. (18-04-2018)
Good news for the city’s young tennis enthusiasts: The Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academies (MBTA) has launched its 16th chapter in India (and the first in Gujarat) at the Navrachana Sports Academy at Sama in Vadodara. There are two courts at the Sama campus where MBTA will offer premium tennis coaching to young tennis enthusiasts. In addition to group coaching, MBTA also offers one-on-one specialized coaching for children and adults. Over 30 students from various city schools and 13 young adults have joined so far. Four senior citizens have also signed up. MBTA will also conduct a special Summer Camp from 7th to 30th May. Arjuna Awardee Gaurav Natekar is the CEO of MBTA , which was founded in 2006 by Mahesh Bhupathi. (18-04-2018)
‘Pocket Cop’ speeds up passport formalities: When you apply for a passport you are called to the police station for verification of your documents. Thanks to a new mobile application it may now be the cops who will come to your house to do whatever is needed. The mobile application has been named ‘Pocket Cop’. It will take your photograph, scan the proof of residence and other documents, feed the coordinates of your house, and send everything to the relevant police department. A pilot run has been made with this system with over 2,000 passport applications in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. Eventually, 4,900 phones equipped with this application will be issued to police personnel throughout Gujarat. Developed by a private company in collaboration with the Gujarat Police State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), ‘Pocket Cop’ is also used to search for accused persons, missing persons and vehicles; it has access to a database of 69 lakh accused persons and over 14 lakh vehicles. (17-04-2018)
Customised smart bicycle share project on MS University campus: Hero Youon Pvt. Ltd. – a joint venture of Hero Cycles and Youon Pvt. Ltd. – made a proposal to MS University of Baroda (MSU) to implement a tech-based customised smart bicycle share project on the university campus. The MSU syndicate has cleared the proposal. The company has offered to place the bicycles on the campus at strategic locations and student users can use them as required. Hero Youon will take end-to-end responsibility for the project: financing, deploying and maintaining bicycles, making a customised mobile application, providing the necessary manpower, etc. No investment is needed from MSU. The company operates a similar system at Lovely Professional University at Phagwara by deploying 500 smart bicycles for 40,000 students and staff members. (17-04-2018)
Hotel on top of railway tracks: As part of the Rs. 500 crore redevelopment plan of the Gandhinagar railway station, the 300-room Leela Palace Hotel is being built on top of the railway tracks. It should be ready by January 2019, in time for the next edition of Vibrant Gujarat. The redevelopment is being managed by the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd. (IRSDC). The project has been undertaken by the Gujarat government in partnership with Indian Railways. The hotel will be Gandhinagar’s first five star hotel; other facilities include a club house, a swimming pool, a banquet hall for state functions and a convention centre. (17-04-2018)
Twenty research projects approved at MS University: An amount of over Rs. five crore has been approved by MS University for 20 research projects between November 2017 and March 2018. Researchers from the Faculty of Science got 10 of these projects (worth over Rs. 3.4 crore), the others going to Faculty of Technology and Engineering, Faculty of Family and Community Sciences, Faculty of Education and Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Social Work. The organisations from which the funds have come include the Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Biotechnology, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Indian Council of Social Science Research, Space Applications Centre, Indian Council of Historical Research, Department of Science and Technology, Science and Engineering Research Board, NTPC Limited and GSFC. (16-04-2018)
Commerce subjects should be taught in schools from class VI: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) believes that basic commerce subjects should be taught in schools from class VI, just like science and social science are taught. ICAI has made this suggestion to the ministry of human resources development (MHRD). ICAI has even offered assistance in syllabus preparation. The institute has introduced a Commerce Talent Search Test – which is called ICAI Commerce Wizard 2018 – which is open to students from class IX to B.Com and BBA. Over 50,000 students are expected to take the test. (15-04-2018)
Road transport corporation will build bus bodies: The central workshop of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) at Naroda in Ahmedabad will shortly take up the task of building bus bodies. It will start with a project to build 31 sleeper buses. The Naroda workshop has facilities in line with the stipulations of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules for body building. It is being further upgraded with advanced machinery and tools. GSRTC will also rope in the help of its former officials and employees who have specialist skills and work experience. Testing will be done by the Forensic Science Laboratory. (14-04-2018)
The donkeys at Pavagadh are cruelly overloaded: Have you ever wondered how goods are transported up the Pavagadh hill? This difficult task has been performed for years by donkeys. The local administration has recently taken some steps to ensure that the donkeys are not overloaded with packages whose weight is beyond their comfort levels. Transport vehicles can go only up to Maachi; beyond this point shopkeepers can move their supplies only by using the ropeway or on donkeys. About 330 donkeys serve the needs of over 200 shops and 100 homes at Pavagadh. The rules specify that a donkey’s load should not exceed 50 kg, but in reality the weights they carry are cruelly higher. The district administration has now begun to crack down on those who overload the animals, and the donkey owners have threatened to stop work in protest. (13-04-2018)
Ration card portability: A pilot project to introduce ration card portability will be started soon in Gujarat. Haryana, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will also be doing a similar trial. The intention is to try and improve the effectiveness of India’s public distribution system (PDS). The system will be of great help to migrant populations because it will enable a ration cardholder to obtain subsidised foodgrains, sugar and kerosene from any shop in the state rather than from only one shop. The trials are likely to start in June. Gujarat has over 12 million ration card holders, and 6.9 million of them get subsidised rates at 17,200 fair price shops. Among Gujarat’s migrant populations are: tribals who move out from Panchmahals, Dangs and Dahod to work at various locations in the state; the Maldhari community in summer; the diamond workers from Saurashtra who go for work to Surat. This project will be based on a system which uses the Aadhaar cards of the beneficiaries for verification. (11-04-2018)
Tram service in Vadodara: Will trams run in Vadodara? The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) may conduct a feasibility study on this subject with the help of Hindustan Fiber Glass Ltd. and CRRC Corporation Ltd. from China. Hindustan Fiber Glass is a coach component manufacturer for Indian Railways and CRRC is a rolling stock manufacturer. Representatives from the two companies met VMC officials recently to discuss the project. The initial opinion seems to be that a tram service may be a better idea than a metro or a monorail or BRTS. One advantage of trams is that they can run on existing roads. The feasibility study is likely to be completed within a month. The possible route: 25 km along the ring road, 20 km along the Vishwamitri riverfront. (07-04-2018)
Traffic police will be on the prowl again: Starting on April 15, the police department hopes to zero in on traffic offenders with the help of the many CCTV cameras installed at Vadodara’s busy crossroads. The traffic monitoring system has been streamlined and errant drivers are likely to be spotted and ‘captured’ by the monitoring cameras. With the electronic evidence on record, it will be easy to book offenders. Equally important, it will also be difficult for a corrupt policeman to accept a little bribe and let off the offender. The cameras can spot a variety of offences, such as driving without a helmet, not using a seat belt, illegal parking, driving on the wrong side of the road, jumping a signal, etc. E-challans will be mailed to the offending drivers. The fines can be paid online or by cash at any branch of State Bank of India. An offender will get only one e-challan per day. If a person receives more than three e-challans his driving license will be cancelled. (06-04-2018)
Few Gujarat universities feature in India’s top 100: India’s ministry of human resource development ranks universities on the basis of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). The rankings consider teaching, learning and resources (TLR), research and professional practice (RPP), graduation outcomes (GO), outreach and inclusivity (OI) and perception. Other criteria: job placements, students opting for higher studies, students considering entrepreneurship, median salaries, number of PhD students, quality of publications, patents granted. Only two universities in Gujarat find a place in the latest list of top 100; state funded Anand Agriculture University ranks 83 and privately owned Nirma University ranks 94. Gujarat University, the state’s largest, ranks 111. None of the medical, law and architecture institutions feature in the NIRF rankings. In the category of management institutes, centrally funded IIM-A is ranked first and IRMA at Anand is 43rd. Barodians loyal to the city and its institutions will be disappointed: MS University of Baroda does not feature even in the top 200. (05-04-2018)
State education department changes vacation dates: Gujarat’s education department has ‘re-scheduled’ the summer vacation; it will begin from May 7 instead of May 1 and schools will reopen on June 10 instead of June 4. The revision notification has been sent to all district education officers and all schools affiliated with the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Board. Parents, children, teachers and all non-teaching school staff members will have to make changes in their vacation plans. Gujarat has about 10,000 primary and secondary schools. (04-04-2018)
Prove you have the parking space before you buy your car: Here is an interesting proposal – just a proposal – from the Gujarat state traffic branch (STB): before you register a new car you should prove that you have the space to park it – at home as well as at work. The proposal is part of an effort to de-congest roads in the state’s four major cities. Ahmedabad has 2,600 km of roads; of this network 1,170 km has free on-road parking. It seems that parked vehicles eat into 45 % of a city’s road shoulder space. Hence the idea came about to get prospective car owners to prove that they own the necessary parking space. The automobile industry is of course not particularly thrilled about this well-intentioned idea which can hurt its sales. Ahmedabad already has 43 lakh vehicles, Surat 25 lakh, Rajkot 18 lakh and Vadodara 19 lakh. Perhaps the answer is in better public transport, so that private cars become less attractive. Multilevel parking facilities can also help. This proposal – to prove that you own the parking space – may appear to be unworkable, but something similar seems to be inevitable. (03-04-2018)
Ms Shalini Agrawal will be new Vadodara district collector: Vadodara district collector Ms P. Bharathi has been appointed state project director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Taking her place will be Ms Shalini Agrawal who was earlier collector of Arvalli district. This follows the recent shuffling by the Gujarat government of 67 IAS officers posted as collectors, DDOs, and deputy municipal commissioners. Some of the other postings: Vikrant Pandey as Ahmedabad collector, Dr. Dhavalkumar Patel as Surat collector, Dr. R.B. Gupta as Rajkot collector. (03-04-2018)
New national level institution in Gujarat: India will soon have a Rashtriya Coastal Police Academy (RCPA), and it will be set up at Okha in the Devbhumi Dwarka district of Gujarat. The academy will be governed by the Gujarat Frontier of BSF (Border Security Force). It will serve as a training institution for police, BSF and marine commandos. It will be the country’s first national academy to train police forces in effectively safeguarding the Indian shoreline. It will start from a campus of the Gujarat’s Fisheries Research Centre located in Okha. It will be run by a team of paramilitary and defence forces. (02-04-2018)
Rules governing construction will be uniform throughout Gujarat: The regulations governing construction activities will now be the same for every city or local body in Gujarat. The state government has said that the new common General Development Control Regulations (GDCR) will apply to all of the eight municipal corporations, 162 municipalities and 23 urban development authorities. One of the new rules says that the toilets in all new constructions must have the dual flush system instead of the single-flush system in order to save water. The government will replace the single flush systems in government buildings in the entire state with dual flush systems at its own cost. The dual flush system (half flush for liquid waste, full flush for solid waste) checks water wastage. The single flush system uses 15 litres of water in each use; in the dual flush system only three litres is used for liquid waste. (01-04-2018)
Lukewarm response to auction at Ratri Bazar: Has the Ratri Bazar on Mangal Pandey Road lost some of its initial attractiveness, at least for entrepreneurs? The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) tried recently to auction 20 shops on which the lease had run out, but the response was disappointing. Only 15 applications were received, and VMC may therefore extend the lease of the existing tenants until more interested people turn up to bid. Incidentally, only one of the existing 20 vendors was interested in renewing the lease. Several factors may have combined to switch off the interest of the vendors: high lease rents, not enough customer footfalls, no complementary entertainment activities at the venue, parking problems, etc. (31-03-2018)
Revamp at Sayajibaug zoo: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is making some major changes at the Sayajibaug zoo so that visitors can observe the big wild cats roam around more freely, and that too in an environment which looks a bit like their natural habitat. The birds and animals in the zoo will get more space to move around. The revamp under way is meant to cater to contemporary needs; the zoo was set up in 1879 by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. The spaces for the birds and animals will be less cramped and without cages to the extent possible. The viewing area for visitors will be separated by a five-meter-deep moat from the lion and tiger enclosures. Leopards and jackals will be in an open moat enclosure. The rare and exotic birds that are housed in small cages will be shifted to an aviary enclosure (it seems it will India’s biggest). The new facilities are likely to be ready in stages between August and October 2018. The areas for herbivorous animals, primates and reptiles are also being revamped. The Sayajibaug zoo is home for 212 animals, 583 birds and 79 reptiles. The zoo is also trying to get white tigers, sloth bears and hyenas. In a related development, VMC is also working on a safari park at Ajwa. (30-03-2018)
E-challan memos for traffic rule violations will be back soon: Under the smart city project the Gujarat government had launched a project to spot traffic rule violations at traffic junctions and major roads on CCTV cameras. Based on the camera evidence e-challans were automatically issued to traffic offenders. Initial technical glitches led to the programme being suspended until improvements were carried out in the system. The necessary technical changes have been made and the system will be back in action by April 15 in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot. The installation of cameras under City Surveillance and Intelligent Traffic Management System (CSITMS) has been carried out. Under the Safe And Secure Gujarat (SASGUJ) project, 34 districts and 6 religious places will be equipped with CCTV camera networks at a cost of Rs. 335 crore. (29-03-2018)
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