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India’s First Railway University: The Rajya Sabha was informed recently by the Railways Minister of State that planning was going on for setting up India’s first national railway university at Vadodara. The university will be a research and management resource for Indian Railways, private railway equipment manufacturers and railway consultants. The university is expected to come up on a 100-acre site at Piparia (Waghodia taluka); the cost involved is over Rs. 860 crores. Vadodara will be the headquarters of the university, and the railway colleges located at Secunderabad, Nashik, Pune, Jamalpur and Lucknow will be its constituent schools. (18-03-2017)
Free Wi-Fi Project: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has invited vendors to bid for a project to provide access to government sites and free Wi-Fi internet for a limited period. The project involves setting up intelligent smart poles so as to enable Wi-Fi and a few other services at prominent locations. The bids have been re-invited because the response earlier was not as expected. Among the services to be provided are digital signboards, public address systems, weather and traffic sensors, etc. Revenue for the vendor will come from advertising, rentals from telecom service providers and Wi-Fi charges after the expiry of the free usage period. (18-03-2017)
Street Vendors Plan Protest Rally: Following the recent eviction of about 100 street food vendors by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), the vendors may bring out a protest rally on Saturday. VMC maintains that many vendors are not registered under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA). Apart from the vendors, food trucks in the Akota area have also been impounded. Under FSSA provisions, anyone running a food business without a licence can be imprisoned for six months and also be liable to pay a fine of up to Rs. five lakh. Out of the city’s estimated 25,000 street vendors, it seems that only 6,000 have bothered to register themselves under the FSSA. (17-03-2017)
Board Exams Begin On 15th March: The class 10 and class 12 examinations of the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) will begin from 15th March. The number of students taking the exams are: 17.59 lakh (total), 11 lakh (class 10), 5.14 lakh (class 12 general stream), 1.41 lakh (class 12 science stream). For class 10 there are 876 centres, for class 12 general stream 496 centres and for class 12 science stream 209 centres. The March 28 Sanskrit paper for class 12 general stream has been postponed to March 29 because of the Cheti Chand holiday on March 28. (15-03-2017)
City Will Regulate Street Vending: With the state government having finalised the Gujarat Street Vendors Rules in December 2016, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has invited applications to appoint non-official members of a town vending committee to formulate policies. VMC will appoint four members: a representative of the market trade association, a NGO member, a member of a resident welfare association and a representative from a community-based organisation. Areas will be identified as hawking zones, vendors will be registered and given identity cards, and timings will be specified. The registered vendors will have to pay rent to VMC. (14-03-2017)
Civic Body Steps Up Property Tax Collection: As the current financial year is about to close, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has stepped up its efforts to collect pending property taxes and other dues from errant citizens. To pressurise defaulters, VMC has issued sealing notices to over 300 property owners. The tax revenue target is Rs. 415 crore. The collection so far is a bit over Rs. 400 crores: Rs. 335 crore property tax, Rs. 38 crore professional tax, Rs. 27 crore vehicle tax and Rs. 1.6 crore cable television tax. (09-03-2017)
Vadodara Implements Smart City Plans Efficiently: It seems that Vadodara is moving quickly to implement the Smart City plan. The city has been ranked fourth in terms of the investment conversion ratio (ICR). The ICR is a measure of the extent of conversion of approved smart city plans into investments through ground level implementation. Vadodara’s ICR of 95% ranks behind Nagpur (249%), Indore (96%) and Surat (also 96%). This ranking was done by the Indian government’s urban development department on the basis of periodic reports submitted by various cities. Vadodara’s Smart City plans will call for an investment of Rs. 2,000 crore. The areas being covered are redevelopment of railway station area, City Command and Control Centre (CCCC), Vishwamitri riverfront development, slum area re-development, smart urban transport, water supply systems, GIS, etc. (08-03-2017)
Race Course Circle Will No Longer Look Like Food Court Circle: Roadside eateries close to the Vadodara division office of GSRTC (Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation) on Race Course Circle have been asked to vacate the area because they have been blocking the smooth flow of traffic. It looks as if this time the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) means serious business because over 75 of these food joints have now moved out on their own before they are forcefully evicted. The eateries were very popular, but they were a traffic nuisance. Each eatery along the GSRTC boundary wall occupied its own roadside space, plus the roadside space for its portable tables and chairs for customers, plus the roadside space for customer vehicles, plus the roadside space for customers to move from eatery to eatery. That is a lot of roadside space, leaving little room for the flow of traffic on the road. Race Course Circle had begun to look like a Food Court Circle. As in other areas in the city, VMC had to move in and deal firmly with this unsanctioned, unofficial hawking area. (02-03-2017)
Portable Cabins For Outdoor Police Points: There are several areas in Vadodara where violence between different groups of people flares up regularly and quite suddenly. Resorting to the normal law and order jargon such areas are termed ‘sensitive’. A few policemen, usually from the State Reserve Police, are routinely posted in these areas to act as a sort of early-warning system and perhaps a calming influence. The police presence is usually on the side of a road or at a street corner. Since the policemen need to be on the vigil round the clock, they are given cloth tents under which they can rest or sleep on cots. There are 20 such ‘tented’ SRP points in the city. The police department has now decided to replace the tents with portable all-weather cabins with two beds, a fan, a cupboard and some basic necessities. A sample cabin has been made and it will be deployed at the Atladra check-post. Since the cabin costs about Rs. 2 lakhs, the police are looking for sponsors to foot the bill for the remaining cabins. Considering the vital necessity of the cabins, why should the police have to seek private sponsorships? The state government should step in and provide the funding, or perhaps ask for a still better solution. (01-03-2017)
Possible Scam At Private University: A high functionary of Waghodia based Sumandeep Vidyapeeth was detained by members of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) from Ahmedabad. Two other persons were also detained. The alleged offence: seeking bribes from students to get admission and pass them in examinations. Large amounts of cash and some property documents have been seized. A fairly big admission and examination scam is suspected. Investigations are still going on. A deemed university located 18 kms from Vadodara, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth has several constituent colleges: Medical, Dental. Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Nursing and Health Care Management. (28-02-2017)
Amul Milk Likely To Cost More: The price of Amul milk, marketed by Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), is likely to jump Rs. 2 per litre from March. This increase will be in all the six Amul milk variants. A similar increase of Rs. 2 per litre had last been made in June 2016. The rates of other dairy products such as cheese, butter, ghee, buttermilk and ice-creams have already been increased. The exact date from which this increase will be effective in Vadodara is not yet known. (28-02-2017)
Fire Brigade Headquarters Building Being Razed: Vadodara’s historic fire brigade headquarters building at Dandia Bazar is being razed to make way for major road widening activities in the area. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has shifted the fire and emergency services department head office to a temporary location. This building, which was inaugurated on March 31, 1953, housed 10 specialised vehicles, about 40 quarters and some offices. In addition to being too cramped to take in a new fleet of vehicles, the building was in a fairly bad condition structurally. The administrative wing of the fire brigade will soon be shifted to Akshar Chowk. Down the line VMC plans to set up a modern control room for the fire brigade at Badamdibaug. (25-02-2017)
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)
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