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Forensic testing of products in the public distribution system: The Gujarat State Civil Supplies Ltd. (GSCSL) is being assisted by the state’s Directorate of Forensic Sciences (DFS) to investigate complaints about the quality of products in the public distribution system (PDS) and school mid-day meal schemes. The Food Research Laboratory (FRL) has been set up at DFS to check wheat, rice, cereals, edible oil, sugar, etc. Over 30% of the initial samples have been found to be below the standards acceptable to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI); over 3,890 samples were collected in 1,390 cases. Such forensic testing has succeeded in reducing the rejection rate from 33% to less than 3%. The tests focus on colour, brittleness, presence of insects, size of the grains, presence of foreign bodies, etc. (14-12-2018)
CCTV surveillance on MS University campus: The MS University (MSU) campus in Vadodara has its own share of troublemakers and the authorities have decided to improve the ways in which these elements can be tracked down and identified. The university’s syndicate has approved a proposal to set up CCTV surveillance in certain areas of the campus. The control room for this activity will be in the union pavilion building of MSU Students Union (MSUSU). About 130 CCTV cameras will be installed in the first phase. Eight of these cameras will be able to recognise vehicle number plates; these cameras will be installed at the entry and exit points of the campus. The first phase will cost Rs. 30 lakhs. MSU is hopeful that the project will take off in three months. (14-12-2018)
Traffic cops insist on driver discipline: Please park your vehicle behind the yellow line which demarcates the parking space on the road. If you disregard this rule your vehicle is likely to be locked up on the road or even towed away. The police have been busy painting the yellow lines along the major roads. Also, 50-metre stretches of roads near 24 traffic circles have been designated as no-parking and no-stopping zones. The traffic cops are now equipped with 19 towing vans for two-wheelers and four for cars. Commuters are also being encouraged to use the parking lots in commercial complexes instead of parking on the roads. (13-12-2018)
Bank gave account details to wife without husband’s consent: A bank in Ahmedabad gave a man’s bank account statement to his wife without his consent. The man sued the bank for giving the details without consulting him. The Ahmedabad District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum recently fined the bank Rs. 10,000 for this lapse. There was a matrimonial dispute between the man and his wife, and the former maintained that his wife could use his bank statement to her advantage. The man’s lawyer argued that the bank should not give any details without an account holder’s permission. The court ruled that Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines and bank rules state that statements should not be given to a third party without an account holder’s authority letter. His wife had not come with this authority letter. The court ruled that this is deficiency in service. (12-12-2018)
Gujarat Science City will get an oceanarium: An oceanarium is being built at Gujarat Science City, Ahmedabad. Gujarat government’s department of science and technology announced that the Rs. 250 crore project, spread over 13,000 square metres, is likely to be completed next year. An oceanarium is a saltwater aquarium for displaying marine animals and plants, fishes and mammals. It is a centre for public entertainment as well as education and scientific study. Gujarat Science City is part of a government initiative to draw more students towards education in science. The oceanarium’s gallery will have 72 exhibit tanks with about 12,000 fish and 200 aquatic species from Asia, Africa, the Americas and various oceans. The galleries will have different types of water – fresh, brackish and salty. An underwater tunnel will allow visitors to see sharks, rays and other fish. There will be African penguins too. (11-12-2018)
City based ayurvedic company wins trademark battle: Kushal Kanthil, an Ayurvedic medicine to treat a sore throat, is a remedy made for almost 40 years by Vadodara based Kushal Ayurvedic Pharmacy. It seems that a company in Ahmedabad was marketing a product called ‘Real Kanthikal’ which appeared to be similar in looks and efficacy to Kushal Kanthil. A court in Vadodara recently restrained the Ahmedabad company from manufacturing and selling its product ‘Real Kanthikal’, following a trademark suit filed by Kushal Ayurvedic Pharmacy. The court also ordered that Rs. 364,110 should be paid by way of damages to Kushal Ayurvedic Pharmacy. (10-12-2018)
Government jobs mean big business for coaching classes: Why were 8.75 lakh candidates so enthusiastic recently about applying for 9,713 relatively junior positions in the Gujarat Police department? The standard answer is that most people want the reasonably good salary and almost total security of a government job. The 9,713 posts offered a fixed monthly pay of Rs. 19,000 for five years, and the possibility of a permanent job after that. According government data, over 27,700 class I to IV posts were announced in one year, and 81.12 lakh applications were received – which is 292 applications per post. The search for government jobs has led to the proliferation of private coaching classes which help students to prepare for the entrance tests for these posts. These classes are often run by retired or serving class I officers who also double as faculty members. This particular ‘industry’ – which includes classes, hostels, reading rooms, libraries and reading material – has an estimated annual turnover of over Rs. 500 crore. Gandhinagar alone has 172 coaching classes with over 20,000 students opting for government recruitments. Along with Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara and other centres, the number of students can touch several lakhs. (09-12-2018)
Solar dome nears completion on Akota-Dandia Bazaar link road: The structure of the solar dome project on the Akota-Dandia Bazaar link road is expected to be completed within a few months. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) now needs to select a contractor to install the solar panels on the dome’s roof. The contractor will also operate and maintain the solar panels. Electricity generated by the project will be sold to the Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. (MGVCL). Though the contractor will charge VMC for the power produced from the dome, the charge will be lower than the savings VMC will make by supplying power to MGVCL. The solar dome project is along a 280-meter stretch of the Akota-Dandia Bazaar link road. (08-12-2018)
Barodian architect Karan Grover bags prestigious award: Vadodara based architect Karan Grover has won the Kohler Bold Design Award (KBDA) for the design of Akshar Center for Hearing Impaired Children. KBDA is a design competition for leading architects and designers in India. The biennial award recognises the best of Indian design and architecture. Over 1,200 entries were received. Mr. Grover won the award in the ‘public institution’ category that is meant to celebrate the most beautifully designed public establishments such as unusual schools, clubs and auditoriums that stand out for their architectural styles, building materials and interiors. Akshar Center is spread across 2,100 sq metres. Akshar Trust was established in 1988 to provide education and care to hearing impaired children and guidance to their families, conduct research, investigation and experiments in education of hearing impaired children and train teachers of the hearing impaired. (07-12-2018)
Lok Rakshak Dal exam re-scheduled: The cancelled Lok Rakshak Dal (LRD) exam has been re-scheduled. It will be held on Sunday, January 6, 2019. The Gujarat government will soon send fresh call letters to 8.75 lakh candidates across the state. The candidates will not have to pay for travelling by bus to and from the examination venues. (06-12-2018)
Schedule announced for class X and XII board exams: The class X and XII board exams of the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) will be from March 7 to March 23, 2019. Over 17.50 lakh students will take the exams. About 11 lakh students have enrolled for the SSC exam, five lakh students have applied for HSC general stream, and about 1.50 lakh students have been enrolled for HSC science stream. The SSC examination will begin on March 7 and will end on March 19, HSC (Science) will end on March 16, and the HSC general stream will end on March 23. The schedule can be seen on the GSHSEB website. (05-12-2018)
You need not carry your driver’s licence: According to the revision of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules you can drive around with the digital versions of your driver’s licence and vehicle registration certificate in the DigiLocker or m-Parivahan mobile app. According to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Section 139 of Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1989 allows usage of digital copies for verification. The rule states: ‘As per amended provision, citizens can produce transport-related documents such as registration, insurance, fitness and permit, driver’s licence, certificate for pollution under check and any other relevant documents in physical or electronic form on demand by any police officer in uniform or other officer authorised by the state government.’ Government has approved two platforms: DigiLocker app and m-Parivahan app. However, not all traffic police personnel are aware of this change. Photographs and scanned copies of documents are not acceptable. The documents have to be on DigiLocker account that can be opened only after providing your 12-digit Aadhaar number. DigiLocker is a ‘digital locker’ service operated by the Government of India that enables Indian citizens to store certain official documents on the cloud. The service aims to reduce the need to carry physical documents. (05-12-2018)
Video analytics-based driving test to be introduced: The prevailing method of testing drivers uses an automated computerised driving test. Being sensor based, this test can be manipulated. The Gujarat government is considering the introduction of the latest video analytics-based driving test; this test has limited human intervention and will therefore restrict the scope for cheating by the staff of the RTO (regional transport office) or contractors. In the new method a video analytics mechanism directly monitors the test and the data generated is stored on the department’s central server. Based on this data the video analytics system will automatically decide whether a driver has cleared the test, and an alert will immediately be sent to the driver’s mobile phone. (04-12-2018)
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation will accept only segregated waste: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has announced that it will accept only segregated waste. To encourage citizens to follow proper waste disposal procedures the municipal commissioner, civic officials and 40,000 municipal employees fanned out across the city and visited housing societies, 250 parks and gardens, shopping centres, bus stands and restaurants. Over 28,000 local waste collection points have been identified. There are standing instructions to the effect that unsegregated waste will not be accepted. The results may not appear overnight because the objective of effecting a major behavioural change – in both citizens and civic officials – is quite challenging. Ahmedabad should be congratulated for making a start in the right direction, and other cities and towns in Gujarat should quickly follow this example. (04-12-2018)
Ordinance approved to amend Gujarat Housing Board Act: The Gujarat cabinet recently approved an ordinance to amend the Gujarat Housing Board Act, 1961, to allow re-development of society buildings that are older than 25 years. The amendment allows redevelopment of old housing societies with the consent of 75% of members instead of 100% of members, the same as is allowed for private societies. Over 50 societies, containing 15,200 flats, have been identified for re-development in the first phase. The PPP (public private partnership) mode will apply. The developer can build up to ten stories in the new buildings, with a floor space index (FSI) of 3. There are 700 such housing societies in Gujarat, and many buildings in them are more than 25 years old. (03-12-2018)
Police recruitment exercise postponed: The Gujarat police administration seems to have slipped up somewhere, but so far no one knows who precisely is responsible. About 8.75 lakh students were due to appear for a recruitment exam for 9,713 Lok Rakshak Dal and jail sepoy posts on Sunday. With an hour to go for the exam to start at 2,440 centres across the state, it was announced that the exam has been postponed. The reason? Just before the exam an answer key to the questions appeared on social media! The students had travelled to the exam venues from distant places and they were not pleased at this turn of events. Many of them took to the streets and protested. Not all the protests were peaceful and police had to step in to control those who became unruly. The government has re-scheduled the exams and announced that it will bear the to-and-fro costs of candidates the next time. (03-12-2018)
States asked to reduce burden on children's shoulders, literally: The central government has directed states to ensure that school bags should not weigh more than 10% of the weight of the child carrying it. Students should not be asked to bring additional books and extra materials. School bags today are stuffed with books, water bottles, snack boxes and a variety of other loads which can be backbreaking for the child. Some suggestions have been made to reduce a bag’s weight: notepads instead of notebooks, two sets of textbooks (for the home and for school), etc. High loads can result in spinal injuries and respiratory problems for the child. The maximum bag weights stipulated are: 1.5 kg for classes I and II, 2 to 3 kg for classes III to V, 4 kg for classes VI and VII, 4.5 kg for classes VIII and IX, 5 kg for class X. To many parents and teachers it appears that the guidelines may not be practical to implement. Perhaps schools can increase the number of periods for each subject and divide textbooks according to semesters; at present a student carries textbooks and notebooks of all subjects. Another directive states that homework should not be prescribed for students of classes I and II. (02-12-2018)
Railway university’s Pipaliya campus expected to be ready within 12 months: India’s first railway university (the third in the world, after Russia and China) will have its own campus about 16 km from Vadodara at Pipaliya in Waghodia taluka. Called the National Rail and Transport Institute (NRTI) – a ‘Deemed to Be University’ – its academic sessions for the first batch have already started on a temporary campus of the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) at Vadodara. The new campus, which is expected to be ready within 12 months, will be spread over 110 acres and it will be suitable to accommodate 3,000 full-time students. (02-12-2018)
New method to nab unruly drivers: Vadodara’s traffic police division has recently deployed a new method to catch those who violate rules. Some traffic policemen have been equipped with a mobile application which enables them to take a photograph of a traffic offender and his/her vehicle and immediately forward it to headquarters. The cops then quickly issue an e-challan and send it to the vehicle owners’s home. You may smartly avoid the CCTV cameras at the road junctions but you will still be caught unawares by the traffic constable’s mobile phone camera. Many offenders have already been ‘snapped up’ by this new method for several kinds of offences – driving without a helmet, driving a car without a seat belt, driving on the wrong side, carrying more than two persons on a two-wheeler, crossing over the stop line at signals, talking on a mobile phone while driving, overloading of auto-rickshaws, having fancy number plates, etc. The advantage of the application is that it can be used where there are no CCTV cameras and on minor roads and in inner city areas.. Within just two weeks the traffic branch fined over 2,400 drivers. Such a system is already in operation in Rajkot and Ahmedabad. (01-12-2018)
Honour for University Experimental School: City based University Experimental School has received the ‘best school’ award in Vadodara district from the Gujarat government. The school’s management received a prize of Rs. one lakh. The determining criteria were: activities conducted during the year, infrastructure, results, background, facilities provided. Experimental School is 102 years old. All the district-level winners are eligible to compete for the state-level competition. The state’s best school will get a prize of Rs. 5 lakh. (01-12-2018)
Vadodara gets Omni Processor Plant for Atladra sewage treatment facility: Vadodara Municipal Corporation’s sewage treatment plant (STP) at Atladra will have an additional facility to treat sludge and generate potable water and energy from it. Called an Omni Processor Plant, its feature is that 10% of the water generated from it will be of distilled water quality and the remaining 90% will be industrial grade water. It will generate about 7 kilo litres per day (KLD) of distilled water and about 70 KLD of industrial grade water. The system eliminates the four-to-six week waiting period which is needed for the sludge to dry up in the drying bed. The ash generated can be used for construction of blocks for green buildings. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has funded this project.

The following is from Wikipedia: ‘Omni Processor is a name proposed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a group of physical, biological or chemical treatment processes to process fecal sludge – a mixture of human excreta and water. One of the main treatment aims is pathogen removal to stop the spread of disease from fecal sludge. Several research teams are currently developing various types of omni processors with funding from the foundation. An Omni Processor machine can process a variety of waste streams or fuel sources.’ (30-11-2018)
Thousands of young persons dream of a government job: About 37.7 lakh young persons applied for 12,000 class III jobs in various Gujarat government departments. The applications are still pouring in.

Here is the break-up so far:
19 lakh applications for 1,800 posts of panchayat talatis
8.76 lakh applications for 9,713 posts of police constables
4.84 lakh applications for 334 posts of forest beat guards
1 lakh applications for 275 posts of mukhya sevika
2.5 lakh applications for 77 posts of deputy chitnis
6,000 applications for 7 posts of research officer

Half the applications, that is 19 lakh, were submitted for only 1,800 posts of panchayat talatis. This does not mean that all the 37.7 lakh applicants are presently unemployed; it could just be that they are looking for better jobs. Of course, it is quite clear that a government job is a dream for many people. Many assume that private-sector jobs pay less, are not secure and often on a contract basis. (30-11-2018)
More medical college seats in Gujarat: Gujarat’s medical colleges will be able to admit 600 more students from the coming academic year. In addition to the existing 24 medical colleges which can admit 4,000 students, there will be four new medical colleges with 150 seats each ­– at Chandkheda, Nadiad, Visnagar and Amreli; these colleges will start functioning after the necessary inspections are completed. A fresh round of inspections will be taken up in the medical colleges by the apex body in March next year. (29-11-2018)
Civic body goes after property tax defaulters: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has again started sealing commercial properties because of non-payment of property taxes. Over 250 properties were sealed on 27th November. Among the properties sealed: a major jeweller, a sweet shop, a restaurant and a garment showroom. The authorities managed to recover Rs 1.18 crore by way of overdue taxes. (29-11-2018)
New integrated course in dairy technology and management: An integrated five-year B.Tech course in Dairy Technology & Management will be launched next year by the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal, and the Anand Agriculture University (AAU). Four years of dairy technology training at NDRI and AAU will be followed by one year of training in management aspects at IRMA. The management degree will be from IRMA and the dairy technology degree from NDRI & AAU. The Institute of Rural Management Anand, India`s leading school in rural management, acts as a catalyst and facilitator of rural prosperity; it educates those who want to work with organisations catering to the rural sector and engage directly with rural communities. (28-11-2018)
Opportunity for those who want to own a petrol pump: Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum want to add 4,450 retail outlets in Gujarat to increase the reach of petroleum products across the state. The Selection process details can be seen on www.petrolpumpdealerchayan.in. IOC wants to add 2,350 retail outlets, BPCL 998 and HP 1,102. These firms already operate 4,000 petrol pumps in Gujarat. The minimum qualification for a candidate to apply is that he or she should have cleared Class 10. No documents are needed in the initial stage; only those selected on the basis of the online forms will be asked to submit documents. The selection process will be on the basis of a computerised ‘draw of lots’ and ‘bid opening’ under an independent agency. To apply go to www.petrolpumpdealerchayan.in. (26-11-2018)
GST will be a part of school curriculum: School students in Gujarat will have introductory courses in the goods and services tax (GST) starting from the 2019- 20 academic year. The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) has announced that the subject will be introduced for students of classes XI and XII (Commerce). The GST rules came into force in India in July 2017. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has introduced GST and demonetisation in its textbooks from this year. GSHSEB has also coordinated with the state’s commerce and law departments where necessary. (25-11-2018)
MS University is looking for a vice-chancellor: MS University of Baroda (MSU) has started looking for a new vice-chancellor (VC). The three-year term of the current VC professor Parimal Vyas ends in February 2019. The three members of the search panel are: Daxesh Thakkar, former VC of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University; Himanshu Pandya, VC of Gujarat University; professor Sudarshan Iyengar, former VC of Gujarat Vidyapeeth. The search panel will shortlist candidates, and the Gujarat government will take the final call. Among the eligibility criteria: age less than 62, minimum ten years’ experience as a professor, PhD in a university system or ten years’ experience in a reputed research or academic organisation. Applications must be received by December 14. (24-11-2018)
Tiger safari park planned at Tilakwada: Gujarat government’s forest advisory committee has cleared a proposal for a tiger safari park at Tilakwada, 25 km from the Statue of Unity in Narmada district. The forest department may also plan a lion safari and a leopard enclosure near the tiger safari park. The entire project needs to be cleared by the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI). The 85-hectare park will have eight zoo-bred tigers, including four cubs. The project has already received Rs. two crore for the fencing, and another Rs. four crore has been sanctioned for the project planning phase. Tourists will be moved around in closed vehicles. (23-11-2018)
Online NA permissions speeded up: The online system for getting a non-agriculture (NA) land certificate is now operational in all the districts of Gujarat. Offline applications for development permissions will also continue for three months. The system should enable everyone to get faster clearances for projects and speed up the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) permissions. This should enable realtors, hoteliers and MSMEs to consider larger projects as well as affordable residential and commercial projects. Thus, it will give developers ease in getting faster permissions. It seems that NA permissions are coming through in 10 days. Corruption is now also expected to be eliminated from this activity. Even district panchayats will eventually be enabled to accept applications and give online NA permissions. The application fee is 50 paise per sq m for online payment. The applicant’s file will require clearance only from chitnis, additional resident collector and collector. (23-11-2018)
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