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It is an offence to cut trees without permission: We all know that you should not cut trees without the permission of the concerned authorities. An interesting incident from Ahmedabad now reveals that you should take permission even for cutting off a few branches of a tree. A vigilant citizen was disturbed when some members of his residential society cut off a few branches of two asopalav trees on the grounds of the society. It turned out that permission had in fact not been taken to prune the trees. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has now slapped a fine of Rs. 10,000 on the society. Incidentally, birds had built nests in the branches. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, stipulates that disturbing the eggs or nests of birds falls under the category of hunting; the offence is liable for punishment that includes up to three years of jail term along with a monetary fine. The Director of the Parks and Gardens department of AMC said that people often chop branches during holidays since the corporation office is closed and they believe that they will escape attention. (21-04-2019)
Ailing cow had garbage inside its stomach: An ailing cow from Kavitha village in Anand district’s Borsad taluka was brought for treatment to Amul Dairy’s veterinary doctors. An operation was done and 20 kg of plastic bags and metal wires were removed from the suffering animal’s stomach! Its stomach was bloated and it had stopped eating for 20 days. The doctors said that such a large quantity of plastic bags could not have been consumed by the cow in just a day; it must have been taking in the junk for quite some time. It seems that the owner let the cow graze in open areas, which is where thoughtless people carelessly throw away plastic bags. Our polluting habits make life miserable not only for human beings, but also for other living creatures – who have no way of protesting. (20-04-2019)
Man claims he had valid bills for the liquor he was caught with: Police in Ahmedabad recently arrested a man for possessing four liquor bottles which he had bought from Dubai for his friends. The man was in a taxi. He claimed that he had bought the liquor from a duty-free shop at Dubai airport. He even said he had valid bills for the liquor bottles. That may be true, said the cops, but possessing the liquor is an offence in Gujarat even if it has been purchased from a duty-free shop. You must have a valid permit for the privilege to drink alcohol. The man was booked for the offence. (19-04-2019)
Civic bodies often outsource important tasks: The Gujarat high court has asked a state official to explain the government’s position on outsourcing of services that are essential functions of civic bodies. A bench of the high court has asked the officer to be present in court to explain the issue. The court said that there are instances where corporations, municipalities and panchayats invite bids for the supply of manpower for jobs that are essential duties of civic bodies under the statutes. A few months back the question was raised whether local bodies “can outsource primary and basic functions and services statutorily required to be discharged by the local authority and whether the local authority can, for awarding contract for execution of such primary functions, invite tenders…”. This question was raised when a charitable trust approached the high court to challenge Junagadh Municipal Corporation’s decision to scrap a tender and float a fresh tender after the trust was found to be the lowest bidder for supplying human resource for sanitation. The trust challenged the corporation’s decision to invite fresh bids. The civic body had also invited tenders for hiring people for the posts of sanitary inspectors, accountants and deputy fire officers. (19-04-2019)
Relaxed rules likely for shops and establishments: Some changes may soon take place in the rules pertaining to shops and establishments in Gujarat. The ‘Gujarat Shops and Establishment Amendment Act’ may perhaps get notified for implementation from May 1. Among the possible changes:
… Businesses can function for longer hours, in some cases round the clock
… Small shop owners will have fewer hassles of registration and renewals
… Women employees can work from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
… Creches where there are more than 30 women employees
… Canteen facility where there are more than 100 employees
… No certificates for establishments with less than 10 employees
… Increase in overtime remuneration is some cases (18-04-2019)
Food safety authority recognises Anand based CALF as a national reference laboratory: The Anand based Centre for Analysis and Learning in Livestock and Food (CALF) of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has been recognised by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as a national reference laboratory (NRL) for dairy and food products. CALF, a multi-disciplinary analytical laboratory that was established in 2009, is India’s only NRL for milk and milk products. CALF was so far a referral lab of FSSAI for milk and milk products. India has 13 accredited laboratories with the status of national reference laboratories in specific areas – eight in the government sector and five private. Each NRL is supposed to create a laboratory network at par with global food testing and research laboratories. According CALF’s website, “… dairy cooperatives and state dairy federations, Government departments, regulatory agencies, universities, NDDB and private feed and milk product manufacturers all over India use its services for product compliance, quality evaluation and research and development purposes.” (18-04-2019)
Only 53 MS University students are from outside India: Of the 37,543 students enrolled in all the faculties of MS University of Baroda (MSU), only 53 are from outside India. Another surprise: there are only 2,617 students from outside Gujarat. It seems that the lack of diversity on the MSU campus is one of the major reasons behind the university’s poor rating in the national level rankings. Some believe that the ranking can improve if at least 50% of the post-graduate students are admitted from outside Gujarat. Last year, many of the institutes figuring in the top 100 had about 15 to 20% of the students from outside their respective states and from outside India. Perhaps MSU should take a fresh look at its admission policy and admit more students from outside the state and from outside India. A university committee had in the past suggested that some courses can be introduced to attract foreign students; a hostel for foreign students was also proposed. (17-04-2019)
Gujarat has 21,000 vulnerable polling stations: According to the chief electoral officer of Gujarat 21,000 out of the state’s 51,851 polling booths have been identified as critical or vulnerable. Vulnerable booths are those where there is a possibility of violation of election procedures or violence during voting. Election Commission of India guidelines specify that additional security forces and vigilance teams must be posted at such polling stations. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election in Gujarat, 10,775 out of a total of 45,383 polling stations were identified as critical or vulnerable. Some of the parameters which determine the vulnerability of a polling station are: a polling station that has recorded over 90% polling; a polling station where over 75% of the votes were recorded in favour of one candidate; a polling station with a past history of violence, rioting, booth capturing, impersonation; a polling station where re-polling has taken place; the number of history-sheeters and absconders in the area. Web-casting, digital videography and photography will be done at all the critical booths. (16-04-2019)
Vadodara hottest in Gujarat on Sunday: On Sunday Vadodara was the hottest in Gujarat with a temperature of 42.4 degrees C (Ahmedabad was at 42.2 degrees C). The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts a gradual fall in maximum temperature by 2-3°C during the next two days. EMRI 108 officials said that heat-related emergencies remained at above 700 for Gujarat. (15-04-2019)
Shoe company directed to refund Rs. 3 charged for a paper carry bag: The Chandigarh consumer forum has asked Bata India to refund Rs. 3 that was charged to a customer for a paper carry bag. The forum also asked the company to pay the customer Rs. 3,000 as compensation and Rs. 1,000 as litigation costs. Bata India said it charges Rs. 3 for paper carry bags in the interest of environmental safety. The forum said, “.. if Bata India is a environmental activist, it should have given the same to the complainant free of cost”. The forum instructed the company to provide free carry bags to all customers who purchase its articles. The customer had been charged Rs. 399 for a pair of shoes and Rs. 3 for the paper bag. The forum said that the customer “… never intended to purchase carry bag and it was to be provided by seller, … it was an essential item for sale of product”. The forum directed Bata India to provide free carry bags to all its customers forthwith who purchase articles from its shop. (15-04-2019)
Rural Management Institute studies success of Gujarat’s dairy co-operative societies: What is the reason for the generally acknowledged success of the dairy co-operative societies (DCS) in Gujarat? A recent study by the Verghese Kurien Centre of Excellence (VKCoE) at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) delved into the reasons behind the success of these societies spread across thousands of villages in the state. The study found that the cause is not purely economic. According to the study, the dairy co-operatives flourish because they continue to remain socially relevant even after 50 years. Some dairy cooperatives are now over 60 years old and they have become social entities forging strong community ties. The informal dairy information networks (DINs) consist of members sharing information on dairy related matters such as vet services, animal health, animal feed, milk sales and financing, etc. There are also social information networks (SINs) where members share information on social matters, friendships, personal life, cultural events, etc. In spite of social differences in every village, the villagers still do come together to achieve their common economic goals. (14-04-2019)
MS University announces academic schedule: MS University (MSU) has released the following detailed academic calendar for 2019-20:
... The first term will begin on June 10 and continue till November 30.
... The second term will begin on December 2 and continue till April 25, 2020.
... The mid-semester exams for the first term will be held between September 16 and September 28.
... The end-semester exams will be held between October 9 and November 30.
... The mid-semester exam for the second term will be (tentatively) between February 4 and 15, 2020.
... The Navratri vacation will be one week (October 1 to 7), Diwali vacation two weeks (October 21 to November 2), and summer vacation seven weeks (April 27 to June 13, 2020).
Passenger vehicle demand in Gujarat slipped in 2018-19: Registration of passenger vehicles, both cars as well as two-wheelers, dropped substantially in Gujarat in 2018-19. Two-wheeler registrations dipped from 13.16 lakh in 2017-18 to 12.5 lakh in 2018-19. The demand for cars dropped from 3.3 lakh to 3.1 lakh during the same period. The reasons could be a liquidity crunch and poor festive season sales. Rising petrol and diesel prices may also have been responsible for the slack in demand. Another factor was the decision of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) to make third-party insurance compulsory for a five-year period, a move which pushed up vehicle costs. (13-04-2019)
Apprentice stipends are often higher than minimum wage: Companies in Gujarat pay stipends to apprentices which are higher than the minimum wages paid across several sectors. The minimum stipend is about 41 per cent higher than the applicable minimum wages in most sectors across different Indian cities. This fact has been revealed in a study conducted by Vadodara based TeamLease Skills University (TLSU). Gujarat is among the highest paying states, the top paying sectors for apprentices being automobile and allied industries and retail businesses. The stipends in 2017-18 for the automobile sector were between Rs. 7,500 and Rs. 11,300 per month. For the Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled services (ITES) sector the stipends ranged from Rs. 7,600 to Rs. 12,400 per month. According to the TeamLease website, it is India’s First Vocational Skills University. Located on the ITI Tarsali campus at Vadodara, TLSU is in PPP with the Department of Labour and Employment, Government of Gujarat. (12-04-2019)
EVMs to be stored on Polytechnic campus: Vadodara Lok Sabha poll observers and other concerned election commission personnel recently inspected the facilities and arrangements at the MS University Polytechnic, the premises where the electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be kept after voting ends on April 23. The EVMs will remain on the Polytechnic campus till the counting of votes on May 23. Tight security procedures – including CCTV surveillance ­– have been put into place throughout the campus and surrounding areas. At the same time, the district administration has tried to ensure that the normal activities of the university’s staff and students are not unduly disturbed. (11-04-2019)
MS University launches exercise to get feedback from students: The Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) of MS University of Baroda (MSU) has begun to collect student feedback as part of an exercise to improve academic standards. To start with, feedback is being gathered from third year Commerce Faculty students. The feedback covers a variety of areas – quality of teaching, student life, cleanliness, canteens, hostels, wi-fi, sports, libraries, health centre facilities, infrastructure, administrative support, student support services, career counselling, placement, etc. IQAC is also seeking student suggestions on improving the quality of teaching and learning. The feedback exercise also asks students to say whether the syllabus is being adequately covered in the classroom. Other areas covered are preparedness of teachers, their communication skills, fairness in evaluation, and mentoring and support systems. An important aspect covered by the survey relates to the opportunities for acquiring soft and employability skills. (10-04-2019)
MSU makes it to the list of India’s top 150 universities: MS University of Baroda (MSU) has done marginally better in the National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings for 2019 declared by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. It managed to make it to the top 150 universities of India. In the overall education institutions’ rankings MSU figured in the 151 to 200 rank-band. MSU’s Pharmacy faculty was ranked 17th in the Pharmacy category; other Gujarat institutions in the pharmacy rankings are National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Gandhinagar), Nirma University’s LM College of Pharmacy (Ahmedabad) and BK Modi Government Pharmacy College (Rajkot). MSU’s engineering, management, law, architecture and medical faculties are not in the top 100; the Faculty of Technology and Engineering was ranked at 137 in the engineering category. About 4,000 institutes participated in the 2019 survey. Only two institutions from Gujarat – Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, and Anand Agriculture University – made it to India’s top 100 institutes (overall). Five parameters determine the rankings –teaching and learning resources, research and professional practices, graduation outcomes, outreach and inclusivity and perception. (09-04-2019)
Only 93 non-resident Gujaratis have registered to vote: Only 93 non-resident Gujaratis (NRGs) have registered as NRI voters in various districts of Gujarat for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This is a very small number, considering the large number of NRGs. In 2014, there were 11 registered overseas voters, in 2017 there were 64, and this year it is 93. The possible reason is that overseas voters have to travel to their constituency to vote, in the absence of online voting or postal ballots. NRI voters do not get Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPICs); they can vote on the basis of their passport. Many NRIs who have Indian passports also have election cards, so when they are in Gujarat they just vote as ordinary voters. (08-04-2019)
Problems ahead for Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Ro ferry service: The Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Ro ferry service does not attract enough passengers and cargo, and the Ro-Pax service was suspended for a few days. The Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) oversees the service; it is operated by Indigo Seaways Pvt. Ltd. One view is that the services were suspended for maintenance, but another view is that the operator does not get enough passengers and cargo to make the trip viable. The number of passengers was down to only about 5 per cent of the vessel’s capacity. The Ro-Pax ferry service connecting Ghogha in Saurashtra and Dahej in south Gujarat through the Gulf of Cambay was launched last year. The ferry service was expected to boost tourism and generate employment opportunities, in addition to saving fuel and reducing transportation costs. The ferry cuts the distance between Ghogha and Dahej via the sea route to only 30 km, compared to 300 km by road; the travel time reduces from 10-12 hours by road to just 1.5 hours by sea. The ferry can carry 60 trucks, five to seven buses, 35-40 cars and an equal number of bikes – in addition to 525 passengers. (08-04-2019)
Gujarati medium school teacher must have studied in Gujarati medium: While recruiting teachers for its secondary schools the Gujarat government insisted that a teacher in a Gujarati medium school must have studied in Gujarati medium. In a recent case the Gujarat high court has upheld this policy saying that it is logical, rational and reasonable. The judge said that it is “permissible for the employer to stipulate criteria and conditions to govern the appointment to a post.” (07-04-2019)
Over 300 real estate developers penalised by GujRERA for non-compliance: The Gujarat Real Estate Regulatory Authority (GujRERA) has penalized the promoters and developers of over 300 real estate projects across the state who did not file the mandatory quarterly progress reports over the last nine months. The law states that all real estate developers must periodically inform the authority about the progress of their projects. Each developer has been fined Rs. 50,000. Considering that there are 5,219 ongoing real estate projects registered the level of compliance in the state is fairly good. (06-04-2019)
573 candidates file nomination papers for Gujarat’s 26 Lok Sabha seats: For Gujarat’s 26 Lok Sabha seats 573 candidates have filed their nomination papers. On Thursday, the last day for filing nominations, 313 candidates submitted their forms. The scrutiny of the forms is going on now. Of the total number of candidates 27 are women — the highest in Gujarat’s history of general elections. Of the 27 women candidates, 20 are independents. Since 1962 Gujarat has elected only 23 women to the parliament. The state will vote on April 23. (06-04-2019)
Police in Ahmedabad offer a great 24x7 pick-up and drop service for women: The Ahmedabad City Police has started a 24x7 pick-up and drop service for women. Women are finding that it is quite helpful in emergencies, for instance a last-minute ride cancellations by a cab driver at night. A woman unable to find transport and feeling unsafe can dial 100, and a PCR van will get to her in 10 minutes, at any time of day or night. The van will drop her at her desired destination. The service is not commercial; it is a safe and reliable back-up option. The service is not yet widely known in Ahmedabad. The police department is making sincere efforts to increase awareness about it. When will Vadodara have something similar? (05-04-2019)
Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank have been merged: Three nationalised banks – Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank – have been merged with effect from April 1 to form the second largest public sector bank in the country. Vijaya Bank was founded in Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada district in 1931 by A.B. Shetty. Dena Bank came into being in 1938 in Mumbai (it is named after its founder Devkaran Nanjee). Bank of Baroda was established in July 20, 1908 in erstwhile Baroda, now known as Vadodara in Gujarat. The consolidated bank will have over 9,500 branches, 13,400 Automated Teller Machines, about 85,000 employees, and over 120 million customers. The service conditions of employees will not be affected and their interests will be fully protected. Customers of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank have now gained access to around 104 overseas branches of Bank of Baroda. For the moment, no branches will be closed or locations changed. Any branch mergers will be notified in advance. Customers can use the ATMs of any of the three banks. No ATM transaction charges will be levied in such cases. Online banking channels of all three banks will also continue to work as usual. Customers of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank can continue to use their existing cheque books and ATM cards until any further announcement. The existing account number, IFSC code, MICR code and other account and branch identifiers will continue, till a change is notified. Your existing account with Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank will continue, till otherwise communicated. You will be required to make cash and cheque deposits in branches of your parent bank only. For services charges, both Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank have issued a detailed list of charges. (04-04-2019)
State’s builders favour affordable housing: Affordable homes seem to be the favourite category for builders in Gujarat. Over 30 per cent of the real estate projects registered with GujRERA (Gujarat Real Estate Regulatory Authority) are affordable housing projects. Of the 5,191 projects registered so far with the state regulatory authority 1,694 are in the affordable housing category – 878 only residential, and 816 mixed use with residential and commercial units. Ahmedabad has the highest number of such projects (502), followed by Vadodara (361), Rajkot (265), Surat (236) and Gandhinagar(103). Of the total 5,191 registered projects in Gujarat, 2,580 are residential ones, 1,639 are mixed use and 864 are commercial projects. (03-04-2019)
Gujarat moves to improve startup ecosystem: According to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Gujarat ranks sixth in the number of successful startups in 2018. The state does not have a single unicorn. A unicorn is a startup with a market valuation of at least $1 billion – such as Ola, Zomato, Swiggy, Paytm, PolicyBazaar and OYO. Gujarat, with 712 startups, ranked behind Maharashtra (2,587), Karnataka (1,973), Delhi (1,833), Uttar Pradesh (1,129) and Telangana (748). To encourage startups the government has started training teachers in government and private technical colleges in the basics of entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII) has developed a five-day training module for this purpose. A proper startup ecosystem includes incubation, funding support and market access. (02-04-2019)
Average Indian MP has an annual income of Rs. 30.29 lakh: The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has made an analysis which shows that the average annual income of India’s MPs was Rs. 30.29 lakh. This figure for Gujarat’s MPs was Rs. 59.5 lakh. This is based on figures declared by the MPs. Gujarat’s MPs have the fourth highest annual income, ranking behind Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Two MPs from Gujarat are among the 10 richest MPs. (02-04-2019)
Vadodara civic body acts after blackbuck deaths and sandalwood theft in Sayajibaug: A few months back six blackbucks in the Sayajibaug zoo died after being attacked by stray dogs. A sandalwood tree was also stolen from the garden; the tree was cut and carried away by thieves. Following these incidents the private security agency which was contracted to guard Sayajibaug has been fined Rs. 15 lakh by Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). Of the total fine, Rs. 10 lakh is for the blackbuck deaths and Rs. 5 lakh for the sandalwood theft. VMC has also made some changes in the security arrangements; a new agency may perhaps be appointed after the current contract runs it course. (01-04-2019)
National Institute of Oceanography identifies marine bacteria that can degrade crude oil: The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Dona Paula, Goa, has been able to identify marine bacteria that can degrade crude oil. This development can help control the effects of oil spills in the sea. Gujarat should be happy about this discovery because the state’s ports in the Gulf of Kutch handle about 80 per cent of India’s crude oil imports. The Marine National Park is also nearby and its officials have to worry about oil spills. Oil spills can cause severe damage and disruptions and authorities are always worried about the consequences. NIO’s scientists have identified the bacteria near the coast of Vadinar, which handles the maximum crude oil imports. This bacteria degrades or breaks down the chain of hydrocarbons in the spilt oil, and this makes it easier to clear it from the sea and dispose it. In addition to containing oil pollution in marine waters, the bacterial strain also has commercial applications. NIO with its headquarters at Goa, and regional centres at Kochi, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam, is one of the 37 constituent laboratories of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi. (31-03-2019)
Segregate waste at source: Barodians will soon have to compulsorily separate their dry and wet waste in different containers before handing it over to the door-to-door collection service personnel. Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) says that dry waste like paper, plastics, glass and packing material should be put in a blue dustbin, and wet waste like vegetables and fruits, plants, grass, leaves and leftover food should be put in a green dustbin. Both kinds of waste will be carried and disposed separately by VMC’s door-to-door collection vans. Prior to making this segregation compulsory VMC will launch a vigorous awareness drive with the help of NGOs and citizen groups. (31-03-2019)
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