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Ahmedabad police issued 12.7 lakh e-challans to traffic offenders in 2018: The intensifying crackdown on traffic offenders in Ahmedabad has resulted in 10.73 lakh e-challans being issued between September and December 2018. The traffic police have set up 6,000 Red Light Violation Detection (RLVD) cameras at 130 crossroads and junctions under the Smart City project. A major violation was Amdavadis jumping the ‘stop line’; 12.21 lakh of the total 12.72 lakh e-challans were issued for this offence. Other violations: 35,000 e-challans for parking in no-parking zones; 3,000 for over-speeding; 1,500 for driving on the wrong side; 1,700 for sporting fancy number plates, 82 for driving in the BRTS corridor. In 2018 the fines levied amounted to Rs. 24.61 crore, but only Rs. 5.41 crore has been realised; the offenders still owe the traffic police an amount of Rs. 19.20 crore. A driver’s licence can get cancelled for non-payment of a fine. The traffic cops will soon be equipped with a new device to check the pending dues of a driver. If any amount is pending, the driver will be asked to pay on the spot, failing which the vehicle will be confiscated. Traffic cops in Mumbai have used such devices to achieve a fine recovery rate of 90 per cent. (12-01-2019)
Vadodara aims to become a zero waste city: Vadodara aspires to become a zero waste city by October 2019 under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Working towards this ambition the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has made arrangements for door-to-door collection of kitchen waste from institutions and establishments and use it to generate gas and manure. A contractor will collect kitchen waste from restaurants, canteens, community halls and party plots. He will be paid Rs. 0.90 per kg to collect the waste and transport it in covered vehicles. VMC has two bio-methanation plants. The Gajrawadi plant can process five metric tonnes (MT) of flesh from animal carcasses and wet waste. The plant at Voragamdi near Jambuva can process 15 MT of wet waste only. The gas generated is bottled and sold to industries. These capacities may be increased in future. (11-01-2019)
Schoolbag weight reduced drastically: Here is a good story to come out of the education innovation fair that was organised recently by the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT). The principal of the Bhagad Government Primary School, 15 km from Navsari, has managed to drastically reduce the weight of schoolbags. He organised the syllabus of the primary section into 10 books, each book covering a month’s lessons. The students therefore do not have to carry all the subject textbooks covering the whole year’s course. They carry just one slim book covering the contents for one month. The average schoolbag weight has come down from 2 to 5 kg to just 750 grams. The teachers at the Bhagad school say that now parents are not compelled to accompany their children to school just to carry the schoolbags. We do not know whether there is a direct connection, but it is reported that the number of students at the school has increased from 73 to 131over the past two years. (10-01-2019)
Gujarat’s government schools need improvement: The Gujarat state education department recently conducted a survey of 32,772 government schools. Some of the findings which emerged are quite depressing:
… 12,000 schools are run by just one or two teachers
… 8,673 schools have less than 51 students
… 6,498 schools have less than 100 students
… There are 2.78 lakh teachers for 90 lakh schoolchildren
The government may close down the schools which have less than 100 students, and nearby schools may perhaps be merged; this may help to improve the quality of education and optimise the use of resources. Of the current education budget of Rs. 27,000 crore the major share goes to schools that have almost no teachers or students. (10-01-2019)
Navrachana student shines in junior table tennis: Barodian Manush Shah, 17, has made it to the 10th spot in the list of the world’s top U-18 junior table tennis players. The list is prepared by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Manush is the first Barodian to feature in this list. A 12th standard student of Navrachana School, Sama, he picked up the basics of the sport at Deesha Table Tennis Academy. At age 11 he played in the Open Gujarat Table Tennis Tournament and in 2012 in the national sub-junior TT tournament. He played in the World Junior Table Tennis Championships in Australia in 2017. (09-01-2019)
‘Happy Birthday Sayajibaug’: Some Barodians got together on Tuesday to cut a cake to celebrate the 139th birthday of Sayajibaug. A blood donation camp was organised to celebrate the occasion, and two bicycles were donated to the needy. The 113-acre garden near the Vishwamitri river was gifted to the city by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1879. Sayajibaug continues to be the most popular place in Vadodara for both children and adults. (08-01-2019)
Retired MSU teacher donates Rs. 25 lakh: Dr. R.G. Sharma, a retired teacher of the Department of Hindi of MS University (MSU), has donated Rs. 25 lakh towards the cost of a new building for the department. The new building of the Hindi department is being constructed next to the Bhasha Bhavan near the D.N. Hall campus. On 8th March MSU chancellor Shubhangini Raje Gaekwad will lay the foundation stone for the extension of Padra College. This exercise will cost Rs. two crore. The money will be used to build facilities like classrooms and laboratories. (08-01-2019)
Shukravari Bazaar has encroached into surrounding roads: Vadodara’s famous Shukravari Bazaar in Bhutdi Jhampa may soon be downsized by Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). The move is prompted by the fact that this flea market has expanded over the years and led to a lot of congestion on the roads in the vicinity. It today occupies twice the space originally earmarked for it. The Shukravari Bazaar has been around for decades, perhaps going back to the times when the Gaekwads ruled city. It originally functioned from Fatehpura but was moved to Bhutdi Jhampa in 2008. (07-01-2019)
City’s fire brigade gets much-needed modern equipment: The Vadodara Fire and Emergency Services (VFES) of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is running short of vehicles. Between six fire stations it has 27 water tenders and foam tenders; 17 are over 25 years old and five are over 10 years old. Recently 11 vehicles over 35 years old were phased out. The ageing fleet results in maintenance headaches, not many mechanics can repair them and original spares are difficult to come by. Still, all is not lost. VMC will soon procure three fire-fighting vehicles including two Advanced High-tech Special Vehicles (AHSVs) to tackle fires in high-rise structures from a distance. The vehicles are equipped with thermal imaging cameras mounted so that they can be moved up to a height of 20 meters. Guided by the images sent by the camera, operators will be able to direct the water more precisely towards the fire. VFES will also get a Rapid Intervention Fire Vehicle (RIFV) which has provisions for fire-fighting, rescuing, towing, etc. The city has 511 high-rise buildings with NOCs (No Objection Certificates). (06-01-2019)
Rajkot chosen as location for a new AIIMS: Vadodara has lost out to Rajkot as the location for a new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The Rajkot AIIMS hospital will have 800 to 1,000 beds. It will cost Rs 1,200 crore and it will be spread over 120 acres. It will also promote research activities. The selection criteria were: geographical conditions, population type, local facilities, etc. The Rajkot AIIMS is likely to be ready in the next four years. As far as Vadodara is concerned many politicians are now calling for the facilities at the government- run SSG Hospital (SSGH) to be improved. SSGH has about 1,800 indoor patients against a capacity of 1,516 beds. The Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society (GMERS) hospital at Gotri has sufficient space for new facilities. (05-01-2019)
Vadodara International Marathon: The eighth edition of Vadodara International Marathon (VIM) will be flagged off by Gujarat Chief minister Vijay Rupani on the morning of Sunday, 6th January. Over one lakh runners are expected to participate. The marathon will have four categories: 42 km, 21 km, 10 km and five km. Additional special categories include the Divyang Paralympic Run, the Swachchta Run, the NGO Pledge Run and the Transport Jawan Run. The causes this year are organ donation, plastic-free Vadodara, swachchta and women empowerment. The race will start from Navlakhi and pass through different areas of the city. According to the VIM website, it was started in 2009 and "… is an independent Chapter-25 Non-Profit Company that undertakes the activity of conducting annual marathons in Vadodara. … VIM is accredited to Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) and BDAAA (Baroda District Amateur Athletics Association). It is the largest sporting event in Gujarat". (04-01-2019)
Alumni organise event to mark 70 years of Baroda Medical College: Over 600 doctors – including 150 NRIs – will participate in the three-day World Congress 2019 being organised in the city from January 4 by the Baroda Medical College Alumni Association. The event marks 70 years of Baroda Medical College (BMC). Dr. Damodar Nene, an alumnus from the first BMC batch, will inaugurate the event. The theme of the event is ‘futuristic medicine’. Among the participants will be Dr. Ajeet Kothari, the chair of the board of trustees of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin; he also heads the BMC Alumni Association in the United States. BMC is the oldest medical college of Gujarat. Its first batch of 40 students passed out in 1954. (03-01-2019)
Students should say ‘Yes sir’ or ‘yes madam’ to register presence at roll calls: ‘Yes sir’ or ‘yes madam’ is the usual response of school students to register their presence at roll calls. This may now change to ‘Jai Hind’ or ‘Jai Bharat’ in Guarat’s schools according to a recent notification issued by the Directorate of Primary Education and Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB). The notification will apply to students of Class 1 to 12 in government, grant-in-aid and self-financed schools. District education officials have been instructed to implement this decision immediately. (02-01-2019)
All tuberculosis cases must be reported in Ahmedabad: Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has filed a police complaint against a doctor who did not notify a tuberculosis case to the authorities (AMC had earlier informed all doctors to report tuberculosis cases). Government hospitals report about 11,500 tuberculosis cases every year, and about 3,500 cases are reported from private hospitals. According to Gujarat government statistics, 1,26,665 cases were notified in the state in 2016. While 89,923 were reported by government hospitals, only 37,732 were reported by private hospitals. From January 1 to December 26, 2018, 1,05,365 cases were reported by government hospitals, while private hospitals reported only 41,232 cases. Between 2016 and 2018, 19,932 new cases were reported. (01-01-2019)
Ragging is a ‘barbarous practice’: Terming ragging in education institutes as a ‘barbarous practice’ the Gujarat high court has called for banning it. It has asked the state government to frame a law and make it a cognisable offence. The high court said that a number of states have enacted laws making ragging a cognisable offence and prescribed the types of punishment to be awarded. “Why is there no such legislation in the State of Gujarat? It is high time that such a legislation was passed by the legislature of Gujarat also,” the court said. (31-12-2018)
Vadodara touches 7.2 degrees Celsius on Saturday: The minimum temperature in Vadodara dived to 7.2 degrees Celsius - two degrees below normal - on Saturday. It was second lowest in the decade for the month of December. It had touched 5.5 degrees Celsius in December in 1983. Going by forecasts by the India Meteorological Department respite from the current cold wave is still a few days away. (30-12-2018)
Patangotsav at Kevadia: The Gujarat government will organise Patangotsav on a ground near the Statue of Unity (SOU) in Kevadia on January 8. The kite festival is expected to promote the SOU and surrounding areas as a tourist spot. The festival will see the participation of 86 kite fliers, 46 of them from 15 foreign countries. The government is also taking several other steps to encourage tourists. Among the proposed new activities are a helicopter ride and a seaplane facility. (30-12-2018)
The street dog is also a neighbour: ‘Abhay Sankalp’, a new initiative started in Vadodara by Humane Society International – India, is a programme which works with housing societies to promote peaceful coexistence between street dogs and people. As the organisation’s website states, it helps neighbourhoods to better understand their issues with street dogs. The organisation helps neighbourhoods to humanely manage street dogs in their areas and bring about more responsible pet ownership amongst its members. It implements mass street dog sterilisation and vaccination projects in the city. Currently animal birth control projects only focus on the dogs, but no one is engaging the people around the dogs, which can result in conflicts between them. By law a street dog cannot be relocated or killed, therefore it is imperative to help communities understand dog behaviour, rabies and the importance of rabies vaccinations, how to avoid dog bites and very importantly, proper waste management. (29-12-2018)
Be careful on New Year’s Eve: Please do not misbehave this New Year’s Eve. Over 1,000 police personnel will be monitoring the city’s streets, happening places and farmhouses to ensure that celebrations do not get out of hand. What does good behaviour mean? No liquor. Cops will be stationed at about 40 points, equipped with 200 breath analysers. Over 300 cops will be patrolling the city in plain clothes to nab overzealous revellers on the streets and at party venues. Over 100 cops have been assigned to conduct vehicle checks at eight points and 11 check-posts. Bootleggers and history-sheeters will of course receive special attention. The cops have also advised people to be careful about how they are dressed; dress as you please, but do not ‘show skin’. Also, no vulgar dances. The liquor rules are clear enough. But if you are confused about the dress code, stay at home and welcome the new year on TV. (28-12-2018)
Traffic cops are collecting more fines: One sign that the police have been trying to tame traffic offenders is the number of cases registered. Take a look at some of the statistics for the current year: 518,391 commuters penalised; Rs. 6.21 crore collected as fines; Rs 1.15 crore collected from 115,000 persons for not wearing helmets; 81,778 car drivers fined Rs. 8,177,000 for not wearing seat belts; Rs. 6,00,000 collected from 60,008 drivers who jumped the red signal or drove on the wrong side of the road; 16,826 autorickshaw drivers were fined for allowing a passenger to sit on driver’s seat; 23,164 autorickshaw drivers were penalised for overloading their autorickshaws with passengers. Now that the traffic cops have been given further help in the form of additional CCTV cameras, it is expected that the next year will bring in more revenue by way of fines. However, in spite of the larger collection of fines from errant drivers their irresponsible road behaviour does not seem to have improved and traffic still continues to be chaotic. Perhaps the authorities should consider penalties other than fines for the more dangerous offences – such as confiscating the driver’s vehicle for driving on the wrong side of the road. (27-12-2018)
City police want to hold employers also responsible for an employee’s traffic violation: Here is a new idea in the making. The police wants companies to ensure that their employees follow all traffic rules. If a person is caught for a traffic violation the Vadodara traffic police department may write to the person’s employers informing them about the traffic rules that their employee has broken. The employers will be requested to ensure that their employees follow traffic rules. If an offender repeatedly flouts traffic rules, the employer may be asked to pay up to Rs. 500 per violation. A maximum of Rs. 25,000 can be collected as penalty from the employer. Is this idea workable, and fair? (26-12-2018)
Amusement park launched near Ajwa lake: An amusement park has been launched near the Ajwa lake in Vadodara. Spread over 75 acres, the park has 50 rides and is patterned along the lines of theme parks elsewhere in the country. The park may be called Atalji Amusement Theme and Adventure Park of India (AATAPI). The Vadodara Municipal Corporation has given the land for the Rs. 125 crore project, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd. has invested Rs. 125 crore and the private partner Cube Construction Engineering Ltd. has put in the balance amount. Cube Construction will operate the theme park. (25-12-2018)
Anand’s commercial surrogacy business may get banned: Among many other things, Anand is also known as the ‘surrogacy capital of India’ because of the baby business that flourishes in this town. Anand may soon see less of this activity because the Lok Sabha has recently passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 which seeks to ban commercial surrogacy – a Rs. 1,300 crore industry – by calling it a punishable offence for all parties involved in it. The Rajya Sabha still has to clear the bill. Anand’s surrogacy business employs about 3,000 persons – doctors, nurses, hotels. A lady can get as much as Rs. 3.6 lakh for being a surrogate, so the stakes are high because many depend on this industry. At the same time, there are many people who feel that the ‘rent-a-womb’ commercial surrogacy business is often unethical, sometimes risky for the surrogate and even perpetuates patriarchy. Those opposed to the ban are afraid that it may push the business underground. In 2015 a regulation banned surrogacy for foreigners. (24-12-2018)
Contractor cheats Vadodara Municipal Corporation: Irregularities – perhaps another word for instances of cheating – have been spotted by Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) in some recently completed storm water drain works. A contractor had cheated VMC by laying a 300 mm pipe instead of a 450 mm pipe. The contractor did not lay the pipe for the fill contracted length, and in another area the pipe was not laid at all. The cheating was not caught in some routine inspection; it came to light only when someone tipped off the authorities. VMC has now suspended two of its engineers. Surprising, is it not, that such large-scale cheating is not prevented by routine inspection procedures? Police have arrested the contractor. (23-12-2018)
Stiff fines for using plastic below 50 microns: Users and manufacturers of plastic below 50 microns can be fined heavily according to new rules notified by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). Manufacturers, traders and plastic recyclers will have to register themselves. Manufacturers and dealers will have to segregate plastic waste from other waste; if they do not they will have to pay hefty fines. Even plastic knives, spoons and forks meant for single use have to adhere to standards. The user also will be liable for punishment if using plastic products below 50 microns. Brands that pack their products in plastic or plastic bottles will have to make their own arrangements for disposal of their products. The ‘Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016’ have been notified by both the Centre and the state government. (22-12-2018)
1,750 lawyers vote in Baroda Bar Association elections: Hasmukh Bhatt has been voted in as the new president of the Baroda Bar Association (BBA). He defeated Nalin Patel, who has held the post since 2011. Over 1,750 lawyers voted, and Patel was defeated by 376 votes. The other winners: Dilip Patel (vice president), Rajesh Dhobi (general secretary), Ritesh Thakkar (joint general secretary), Nehal Sutariya (treasurer). (22-12-2018)
People in Gujarat love dairy products: The calcium content in the teeth of a person from Gujarat is more than that of someone from southern states such as Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This has been reported in a study by the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University (GFSU). People in Gujarat had 82% calcium in their teeth, while people in Kerala had 80%. Though this 2% may appear to be a small difference it is considered significant when it comes to teeth. In humanitarian forensics teeth can help to identify a person because they can withstand a fair amount of pressure and are not very damaged by fire; they are good biomarkers for primary identification. Per capita milk availability in Gujarat is 563 grams per day, as against Kerala's 189 grams per day. Gujarat is one of India’s major producers and consumers of milk; people in the state are fond of milk and buttermilk and sweets like pedas and shrikhand. (21-12-2018)
Stiff punishment for wrong-side driving in Ahmedabad: Ahmedabad’s traffic police department and the RTO (Regional Transport Office) will blacklist all drivers who drive on the wrong side of the road. For the first offence, the driver’s licence will be suspended for a period of three to six months. If the same person breaks this rule again, his driving licence will be cancelled permanently and he will be blacklisted at the RTO. The cops have even given themselves a target of sorts – they will attempt to cancel at least 50 licences daily! Wrong-side driving is the cause of most accidents. (20-12-2018)
Surveillance will be increased in the city: The extent of round-the-clock surveillance of the city’s localities is going to increase substantially. Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) and the police department plan to cover the city and its entry points with over 2,000 CCTVs at 800 locations. Disturbance prone areas will be covered first so as to ensure that trouble brewing in these places can be nipped in the bud. There are 400 such locations under six police stations – City, Panigate, Wadi, Karelibaug, Warasia and Bapod. This exercise is likely to cost about Rs. 40 crore. The cops presently have a network of about 300 CCTVs; many of these cameras are used to issue e-challans for traffic offence. (19-12-2018)
Civic body will install 50 public e-toilets throughout Vadodara: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) will install 50 coin-operated public e-toilets throughout the city. The e-toilets will be automatic and staff will not be needed to clean and operate them. Each e-toilet will be a prefabricated stainless steel structure with an automatic system for access, flushing and cleaning of the floors. The user will have to insert a one-rupee coin to gain access. VMC will give the space for the e-toilets and provide water and drainage connections. A private company will operate all the toilets on a revenue sharing basis; the company will also get advertising rights and a share in the revenue generated by the e-toilet. The e-toilets will also sell sanitary napkins (along with a proper disposal system). (18-12-2018)
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