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Worrisome water levels in many of Gujarat’s irrigation dams: As of last week 113 of Gujarat’s 203 irrigation dams had worrisome water levels. These dams are dry or about to dry up; the reservoirs are less than 10% full. Another 65 dams are 50% to 10% full. Irrigation department figures show that water storage in the 203 irrigation dams is 9.57% less compared to last year. They have only a third of their capacity. The situation in Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat is grim; the 173 dams in these regions are only 18% full. The 17 dams in central Gujarat are 56% full. The 13 dams in South Gujarat are 33% full. The situation is better in Sardar Sarovar; it has 8.8% more water than at the same time in 2018. (08-03-2019)
Severe punishment will be given to officials involved in malpractices during board exams: The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) has decided to come down hard on teachers, principals and other government employees who are caught leaking question papers or engaging in any other malpractice. Until now it was only students who were penalised if they were caught cheating. Officials who were involved seldom got caught or they got off lightly. New rules are now in place and someone caught in any form of cheating can look forward to three years in prison and a fine of Rs. 2 lakh. The examination exercise is a major activity and about 80,000 teachers and other government officials are involved. Even a supervisor making the mistake of applying a wrong bar code sticker on an answer sheet will be fined Rs. 100 per error. (07-03-2019)
Surat’s property tax defaulters can look forward to being ‘recognised’ in public: The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is trying out a new method of making sure that property tax defaulters quickly pay their dues. Officials from the property tax department will paste and therefore publicise the names of tax defaulters outside their residential and commercial properties. Banners will list the names of tax defaulters and their outstanding amounts. Surat’s 18 lakh property owners should contribute about Rs. 1,200 crore annually by way of property tax revenue. The collection to date is only Rs. 950 crore. The idea behind the latest tax collection campaign is that the defaulters will perhaps be humiliated into paying up quickly. (07-03-2019)
Be careful on the Fatehgunj flyover: The Fatehgunj flyover has seen more than its share of traffic accidents ever since it was built in 2015. Three recent accidents on the one-km flyover have caused four deaths. It is quite clear to most people that the Rs. 62 crore flyover could have been designed better so as to make it safer. It takes a sharp turn along its length and this turn is where most of the accidents take place. The design flaw seems to be quite clear, but there is no clarity about which department is responsible for this. What matters now is that some practical solution needs to be put in place in order to avoid future accidents. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), the city police and other agencies are putting their heads together to come up with a solution. (06-03-2019)
Ahmedabad Metro train service inaugurated: The first phase of the Ahmedabad Metro train service – a 6.5 km stretch connecting Vastral to the Apparel park area – has been inaugurated. This phase will be 40 km long, 6.5 km of which will be underground. Phase-2 will cover 28 km, from Motera cricket stadium to Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. chief said that 70 per cent work on the Rs. 10,700 crore phase-I of the project has been done so far. It will take another 18 months to complete this phase. The foundation stone for the Rs. 6,769-crore phase-II of the project has also been laid. The inaugural train was imported from South Korea. Ahmedabad Metro, officially Gujarat Metro, is the mass-transit rail system for the cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. It is being built by Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., a Special Purpose Vehicle company constituted in 2018 to implement all metro projects in Gujarat. (05-03-2019)
Traffic police nab 274 persons for driving on the wrong side: If you drive on Vadodara’s roads for about an hour everyday, you can easily spot about 20 drivers who brazenly drive on the wrong side of the road, and it is up to you to avoid crashing into them. The city’s traffic police department has mounted a campaign to nab these ill-mannered elements, but they have so far managed to get hold of only 274 drivers in 2019. These 274 were penalised, and 193 of them had their driving licenses suspended for three months by the Regional Transport Office. If the offender is found driving during these three months, his or her vehicle will be confiscated. If the offence is repeated after the three-month suspension an FIR will registered against the offender. (04-03-2019)
Camel milk captures the market’s fancy: It has been just about a month that Amul launched the sale of its camel milk in a few markets, and 2,000 litres are already being sold daily. The encouraging demand is now compelling Amul to introduce the product in additional markets. Breeders in camel-shed areas in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district and nearby Rajasthan are pushing the Kutch District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Ltd. (KDCMPUL), otherwise known as Sarhad Dairy, to procure camel milk from them too. A major reason for the good response is that camel milk has many health benefits. It seems that this milk has a slightly salty taste which provides a soothing after-affect. It is said to be beneficial for diabetics. Within a few days the product will be launched in the Rajkot, Vadodara and Surat regions; it has already been introduced in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Kutch. Considering the demand Sarhad Dairy has set up a new milk processing plant to process 20,000 litres daily. Since the camel population is scattered across the desert milk procurement is expensive, so Amul camel milk is costly (Rs. 50 for half a litre). Also, camel milk’s shelf life is short, which means that it will have to be transported by air to markets like Mumbai, thereby adding to the cost. (04-03-2019)
Bank of Baroda may help MS University to set up artificial intelligence centre: Bank of Baroda (BoB) has offered to set up an artificial intelligence (AI) centre at MS University. The proposal will need to be approved by the university’s syndicate. The centre will do research in AI and develop AI applications. It will have a modern AI lab. BoB will raise the appropriate funds. One focus area will be problem solving related to the financial and banking sectors. It will also help in dealing with financial frauds, improving efficiency and reducing operational costs. (03-03-2019)
Ahmedabad civic body converts sludge into bio-fertilizer: Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s plant to turn sludge into bio-fertilizer has now become operational. The plant, set up at a cost of Rs. 30 crore by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), can convert 100 tonnes of dried sewage sludge into bio-fertilizer every day. This sewage sludge was otherwise being dumped into the river and this contaminated the irrigation water being used by farmers. The BARC technology treats the sludge with cobalt-60 gamma irradiation, thereby destroying the pathogens in it. The next step is bio-nitrogen phosphorus potassium (NPK) treatment in which micro-organisms are sprayed on to the sludge to make bio-fertilizer. This is the first such sewage sludge hygienization plant in India. The fertilizer is likely to be called Bio-Gold and Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) will be approached to certify it. (03-03-2019)
Helpline to cope with board exam anxiety: To help school students and their parents cope with the anxiety caused by the board examinations the Gujarat government has launched helpline numbers 6359064557 and 9824514033. Approaching examinations can trigger anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts in some children and they or their parents can get the necessary assistance and counselling from the helpline. A 10-person team – including a school principal, a doctor, a psychiatrist and policemen – will be available round the clock on the helpline. The helpline will also give information on the locations of the examination centres. The helpline will function till the examinations are over. (02-03-2019)
More postgraduate seats added at Gujarat’s medical colleges: An additional 143 postgraduate seats will be available from the 2019-20 academic year at eight medical colleges in Gujarat. The Medical Council of India (MCI) board of governors approved the proposal to increase the total number of postgraduate seats from 348 to 491. The seats will increase at BJ Medical College, CU Shah Medical College, Government Medical College (Bhavnagar), Government Medical College (Surat), Pramukhswami Medical College (Karamsad), BK Shah Medical Institute and Research Centre, Medical College (Baroda) and Nathiba Hargovandas Lakshmichand Municipal Medical College (Ahmedabad). (02-03-2019)
Six peripheral villages included in Vadodara city: Some parts of six villages on the outskirts of Vadodara will now be included in the city limits of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation. The Gujarat government has issued the relevant notification and funds – Rs. 27 crore – have been allocated for development works in these areas. The notification covered an area of 17 sq km in the villages of Harni, Sama, Gorwa, Tarsali, Kalali and Bapod. These areas were functioning without many civic amenities and the residents living here will be relieved by the government’s decision. (01-03-2019)
Schools will be graded according to their education quality: Gujarat’s schools are likely to be graded according to their education quality. The state government will set up a school accreditation council for this purpose so that there is an objective ranking measure which can serve as a guide to help students and their parents make informed choices. The exercise will start by grading government schools and those which receive state grants. Private schools will be taken up in the next stage. Several factors will determine the grading – teaching and learning methods, system of evaluation, teacher training, learning resources, organisation, governance, financial condition, student services, etc. In the first stage 32,500 primary schools will be graded. The state education department has tied up with UK-based NGO ‘Reach to Teach’ in order to benefit from the experience of UK’s Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). (01-03-2019)
Old Nyaya Mandir building not yet vacated: The Vadodara district court has moved to its new location at Diwalipura a long time back, but the authorities have not yet vacated the old building at Nyaya Mandir. It seems that it still contains some records, case papers and furniture which have not been moved to Diwalipura. The Lal Court building has been completely vacated. It is not yet clear who the new occupants of the old Nyaya Mandir building will be. There is talk that it may be occupied either by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) or by the city police. If the police department is not given use of the building VMC may perhaps convert it into a museum. Some people are of the opinion that the building should be conserved as a heritage property and turned into a tourist attraction. (28-02-2019)
Risk and asset mapping of Champaner-Pavagadh heritage site: Champaner-Pavagadh, Gujarat’s first UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site, is going through risk and asset mapping for the first time. The project is being carried out by MS University of Baroda, Durham University (UK), Allahabad University and the Vadodara circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Geophysical instruments like magnetometers are being used by archaeologists and students to collect data from the ruins at Champaner. The data collected will help in the preparation of archaeological risk maps for heritage monuments. With such maps on hand, future infrastructure – water pipes, power lines, tourist amenities, footpaths, etc. – can be built without harming the sub-surface heritage features. This mapping will help to determine whether there are more ruins buried below the surface. About ten monuments have been covered so far; these include Jamma Masjid, Kevda Masjid and Nagina Masjid. The risk maps are expected to be completed within a month. (28-02-2019)
City’s malls and multiplexes fail security check: The Vadodara city police department recently checked out some of the city’s malls and multiplexes to evaluate whether elementary security precautions are being followed when people enter these public places. The malls and multiplexes failed the police check. Cops from the detection of crime branch (DCB) were able to easily walk through the security checks without their service revolvers getting detected. The malls do have the mandatory security guards doing the mandatory frisking, but the frisking is usually quite casual and the metal detectors apparently failed to do the detecting. The malls that the cops studied were Seven Seas, Centre Square, Vadodara Central, Inorbit, Eva, DMart Manjalpur, Inox and Ved Transcube Plaza. The mall managements have been advised to tighten up their procedures. (27-02-2019)
Start-up ideas to solve civic problems: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to assist five top start-up ideas to solve Mumbai’s civic problems. The committee to evaluate the start-up ideas will include billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research director Uday Salunkhe and Kaushik Sen, CEO and co-founder of start-up Healthspring. BMC has made a provision of Rs. 25 crore under the ‘innovation implementation’ fund. BMC will provide a seed fund of Rs. 25 lakh for each selected idea. (27-02-2019)
Board exams will begin from March 7: Over 18.5 lakh students – of science and general streams – are busy preparing for the class X and class XII board examinations which will be conducted by the Gujarat Secondary Education Board (GSEB) from March 7. Over 11.59 lakh students will appear for the class X exams, 1.47 lakh students will appear for the class XII Science exams, and 5.33 lakh students will appear for the class XII General exams. (26-02-2019)
Local bodies often outsource their primary functions: The Gujarat high court recently posed an interesting question: can local bodies “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?” The court was referring to civic bodies outsourcing their primary and basic functions by awarding contracts after inviting bids. There are several statutory services (like sanitation) that local authorities – panchayat, municipality or municipal corporation – are supposed to provide. The court posed the question when it was informed that such services are often outsourced and people are hired on 11-month contracts. (26-02-2019)
MS University plans an ‘Alumni House’: The Office of Alumni Affairs (OAA) of MS University of Baroda has invited suggestions regarding a Rs. 35-crore 12-storey ‘Alumni House’ building proposed on the university campus. The proposal has been approved by the university syndicate and all ‘stakeholders’ have been asked to submit suggestions for the final design of the building by March 11. We wonder what ‘stakeholders’ really means. The facility is expected to come up near Chamelibaug. The building will be expected to meet the needs of visiting alumni. Some of the features being planned: a convention centre, three-star hotel type rooms, a travel desk, a restaurant, a souvenir shop, multi-level parking facility. Who will pay for the building? Funding support is expected from the alumni and the corporate sector. When not being used by alumni, the complex will be available for the university’s regular activities – seminars, conventions, short-term training programmes and accommodation for visiting faculty. (25-02-2019)
Conclave held to encourage SC/ST businesses: The National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) held a regional conclave in Vadodara on February 24 to promote micro, small and medium enterprises run by Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) entrepreneurs. This is part of a nation-wide campaign to increase procurement from SC/ST run enterprises by assisting in capacity building and giving awareness about relevant government schemes. The conclave was organised by the Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise. The Public Procurement Policy of 2012 stipulates that 25 per cent of the goods and services procured by Central ministries, departments and Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) should be from MSMEs, and 16 per cent of such procurement (that is, 4 per cent of the total) should be from businesses owned by SC/ST entrepreneurs. Gujarat has about 90 lakh people from SC/ST communities. One of the major challenges is to encourage more SC/ST people to take up entrepreneurship. (25-02-2019)
Design a mascot for the bullet train, give the mascot a name: If Air India has its Maharaja, why can’t the bullet train have a mascot too? The National High Speed Rail Corporation has organised an online competition inviting people to design a mascot for the bullet train and also give the mascot a name. The online competition aims to encourage people’s participation. You can submit your entries on www.mygov.in till March 25, 2019. Winning entries will be shortlisted by a committee and awarded cash prizes. (24-02-2019)
Primary school teachers perform many non-academic tasks: The Gujarat Primary Teachers’ Association (GPTA) claims that primary school teachers spend 60 days – out of the 220-day academic calendar – on non-teaching work. The state’s roughly 215,000 primary school teachers have been assigned 25 different non-teaching duties in the past. Association representatives suggest that teachers should not be assigned any duties other than teaching. Among the non-teaching tasks performed by teachers: deployment as booth-level officers to update electoral rolls and other election duties, assisting students in getting Aadhaar cards and opening bank accounts, feeding data of various government programmes online, organising celebrations such as on World Environment Day and World Yoga Day, participation in vaccination drives and nutrition drives, etc. At many schools, a few teachers are more or less permanently engaged in extra-academic activities. (23-02-2019)
CCTV cameras to be equipped with voice recorders at examination halls: With class X and class XII examinations (science and general streams) round the corner, the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) is taking steps to curb cheating in examination halls. Collectors have been instructed to ensure that the CCTV cameras at new examination centres are also equipped with voice recorders. This step will presumably prevent outsiders from dictating answers to examinees without getting caught (there have been cases where outsiders help students by shouting answers while keeping out of range of the CCTV cameras). Also, computer experts have been roped in to ensure that the CCTV camera recordings are not tampered with. (22-02-2019)
Some rules changed for establishments: Shops and establishments in Gujarat can now remain open 24x7. The relevant bill has been passed, so no government authority can force a shop to close at night unless there is a serious law and order or traffic problem. Other reforms have also been introduced. Establishments employing more than 30 women must provide creche facility, a canteen and double wages for overtime. Annual renewal of the license will not be required. Shops and establishments employing less than 10 employees will not require to take a certificate; they just need to inform the local authority in writing within 30 days of starting the business. Women can be allowed to work from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., but subject to some conditions. Drinking water, latrines and urinals, first-aid and canteen facility should be provided where the number of employees is more than the prescribed limit. (22-02-2019)
New parking rules at SVPI airport: The free 10-minute parking time window has been scrapped by the authorities of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad. A car going to pick up or drop someone at the airport has the stipulated time window within which to exit from the airport. If the time taken exceeds the stipulated time, the car driver has to pay the parking fee of Rs. 85. It has now been decided that no parking charges will be levied for pick-up or drop at the arrival and departure areas at the domestic and international terminals at SVPI airport. Charges will of course be levied for parking vehicles in the designated parking areas. This decision does not seem to have been fully thought through. Some frequent flyers believe that the scrapping of the charge may result in drivers taking their own time and clogging the pick-up and drop areas. It looks likely that this decision may be modified a bit to ensure that chaos does not take place during peak hours. (21-02-2019)
Gujarat State Transport services to be affected on 21st February: The services of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) are likely to be affected on 21st February when about 43,000 of its employees take mass casual leave to highlight their long pending demands. One of the demands is the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations. The employees had decided to park their vehicles at the nearest depot from 20th February midnight. GSRTC has 45,000 employees, and 43,000 of them have already applied for casual leave. (21-02-2019)
Proposed bill seeks to improve job opportunities in Gujarat: The Gujarat government is considering a bill to permit women to work between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The proposed Gujarat Shops and Establishments Bill, 2019 specifies some conditions under which a woman will be allowed to work during these hours – with adequate safety provisions. The woman should of course be able to freely give her consent to work between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The conditions specified are: provision of shelter, restroom, night creche, ladies toilet, adequate protection of dignity, honour and safety, protection from sexual harassment and her transportation from the shop or establishment to the doorstep of her home. It is hoped that the bill will give better opportunities to women and also lead to growth in jobs – specially in the retail, IT, hospitality and services sectors. (20-02-2019)
Gujarat responds to road traffic bottlenecks: Thanks to traffic bottlenecks on Gujarat’s roads, the state is going to add 54 flyovers in the 7 municipal corporation areas. Of these, 20 will be in Ahmedabad, 10 in Surat, 8 each in Vadodara and Rajkot, three each in Jamnagar and Bhavnagar, and two in Junagadh. In addition to the 54 flyovers in the 7 municipal corporation areas, another 21 have been proposed for nagarpalika areas like Dahod, Godhra, Bhuj, Mehsana, Patan, Deesa, Anand, Palanpur, Botad, Surendranagar, Porbandar, Nadiad, Navsari, Valsad, Bharuch, Ankhleshwar, Vapi, Himmatnagar, Amreli, Morbi and Veraval. This adds up to a total of 75 flyovers. The government has made a provision of Rs. 2,000 crore to cope with traffic related problems. To ease traffic congestion at railway crossings in cities, 37 railway flyovers and railway underbridges will also be built. (20-02-2019)
All-In-One Emergency Helpline Number to be launched soon: A single emergency helpline number '112' will be launched in India. It will provide immediate assistance to services like police (100), fire (101), health (108) and women safety (1090). The emergency service, earlier launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland, will be available first in 16 states and Union Territories and Mumbai city. The emergency number will gradually be extended to other states. The emergency number '112' is on the lines of '911', the all-in-one emergency number in the United States. The states where '112' emergency number will be launched are: 1. Uttar Pradesh 2. Uttarakhand 3. Punjab 4. Rajasthan 5. Madhya Pradesh 6. Tamil Nadu 7. Kerala 8. Andhra Pradesh 9. Telangana 10. Gujarat 11. Puducherry 12. Lakshadweep 13. Andaman 14. Dadar Nagar Haveli 15. Daman and Diu 16. Jammu and Kashmir. The emergency number will also be available for Mumbai city. A team of trained call-takers and dispatchers will handle emergency requests relating to assistance from police, fire and rescue, health and other emergency services. The police can view all events after an emergency call is made at the Emergency Response Centre. (19-02-2019)
US based alumni group finances scholarships for MS University students: ‘MSU Alumni Foundation Inc’ is an organisation in Houston, USA, that raises funds for the university. It is registered as a charitable organisation to make it easy for MSU alumni to donate to their alma mater and get a tax rebate in USA. The foundation recently gave cheques worth US $10,000 to the university. More donations are on the way. Mr. Jagat Kamdar, president of MSU Alumni Foundation Inc., is a graduate of the 1963 batch of the Textile Engineering department of MSU’s Faculty of Technology and Engineering (FTE). Mr. Mahendra Vaishnav, from the 1966 batch of the Architecture Department, is a core committee member of the foundation. The initial donation is meant for scholarships to students and an elevator in the FTE. The foundation has over 300 members living in Houston. Among the funding projects being considered are: construction of student hostels and a separate building for the Faculty of Journalism and Communication. (19-02-2019)
Vadodara will provide water to some surrounding village areas: Many areas near Vadodara city and under the Vadodara Urban Development Authority (VUDA) have developed rapidly in recent years but they do not have access to sufficient water to meet their needs; they depend on bore wells. These areas – Gorwa, Undera, Koyali, Ankodiya, Khanpur, Sherkhi, Sevasi, Mahapura, Gokalpura, Bhaili and Bil – will now get 20 million litres per day (MLD) of drinking water provided by Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) from the Sindhrot water supply scheme. VUDA will pay VMC for the water and contribute towards the cost of the Rs. 165 crore Sindhrot project. VUDA will supply water only for domestic purposes. (18-02-2019)
Private ‘facility manager’ for Pune railway station: Following Habibganj in Bhopal, the Pune Railway Station has became the second Indian Railways station to get a private ‘facility manager’. The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) has signed an agreement with Bharat Vikas Group (BVG) to this effect. The Habibganj railway station redevelopment was a Rs. 450-crore project. Other stations to be similarly taken up by facility management firms are Bengaluru, Secunderabad, Anand Vihar (New Delhi) and Chandigarh. The contract with BVG for Pune is for three years and can be extended for three more years. The work covers: garbage collection, segregation and disposal; landscaping maintenance; pest control and disinfection; parking management; advertising management; management of commercial areas; repair and maintenance of buildings, platforms, roads, parking areas, subways; waste water collection, treatment and disposal system; management of water supply system. BVG may appoint sub-contractors for various facilities. All activities related to train operations, ticketing, luggage handling, porter services, on-board catering and security services are not included in the scope of work. The food malls and restaurants will continue to be managed by IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation). Legal hawkers and tea stalls will be managed by the facility manager. (18-02-2019)
Bids received for privatisation of international airport at Ahmedabad: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has received seven technical bids for the proposed privatisation of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) Airport. The financial bids will be opened on February 25 and thereafter sent for approval to the cabinet. The scope of work is operation, management and development of the airport. Other airports also being considered under the public-private partnership (PPP) model are Lucknow, Jaipur, Mangalore, Guwahati and Trivandrum. The implementation will be similar to that of the airports in Mumbai and Delhi. The company awarded the contract will own, operate, maintain and develop the airport. The Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) system will be managed by AAI. (17-02-2019)
Make your own music when you marry: Have you used Bollywood songs in your wedding and pre-wedding videos? If you have, and if you do not have the necessary permissions, then perhaps you may run into legal trouble for violating copyright laws. A videographer in Ahmedabad was hauled up by the police recently for apparently using songs belonging to a music company in his wedding videos. The music company’s anti-piracy official, who monitors piracy and unauthorized use of the company’s songs, filed a police complaint against the videographer. The cops visited the videographer’s studio and seized incriminating equipment and hard disks. As the law takes its inevitable course, the videographer’s clients will also be questioned. (17-02-2019)
New office-bearers at Federation of Gujarat Industries: Vadodara based Federation of Gujarat Industries (FGI) has got itself a new team of office-bearers, all elected uncontested in the recently held election. The new team for the 2019-21 two-year term: Manohar Chawla (president), Paresh Saraiya (senior vice-president), Abhishek Gangwal (vice-president), Bharat Shah (honorary treasurer). Mr. Chawla is director of Ashwin Vanaspati Industries Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Saraiya is managing director of Transpek Silox Industry Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Gangwal is director of HPS Gases Ltd. and Mr. Shah is director of Gautam Infin Ltd. FGI office-bearers are elected by the 25 members of the managing committee. (16-02-2019)
Gujarat’s diamond and jewellery sector prepares to create 6,000 jobs: The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) is associating with the Sarvajanik Education Society (SES) to create over 6,000 jobs in Gujarat’s diamond and jewellery sector. The Indian Diamond Institute (IDI) will also be involved in providing technical support. Over 1,000 arts, science, engineering and commerce students will be given an opportunity to make their careers in the diamond and jewellery sector – in fields like diamond technology, e-commerce, software and solutions, laboratory and testing, marketing, back office and human resources. The idea is to make students aware that the diamond and jewellery sector is much more than just cutting and polishing diamonds. This project will be carried out in major cities of Gujarat. (16-02-2019)
Free sanitary napkins for girls in Vadodara’s municipal schools: Free sanitary napkins will be made available to girls studying in primary schools run by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). This project has made a start with the girls studying in 10 primary schools. Vending machines have been installed in these schools to distribute the sanitary pads. Coins are not needed to operate the vending machines. Incinerators will also be provided for hygienic disposal of the napkins. Over 100 schools are expected to be covered in this project initially. (15-02-2019)
Good news for Gujarat’s MLAs, ministers and family members: The Gujarat government’s health and family welfare department has announced a policy under which ministers, MLAs and their family members will be reimbursed for medical bills of up to Rs. 15 lakh if they submit the relevant bills. Beyond Rs. 15 lakh, the chief minister’s permission will be needed. While this limit is for private hospitals, bills of government and aided hospitals will be reimbursed fully. (15-02-2019)
Fingerprints can indicate time of death in criminal investigations: Fingerprints can give a clue regarding the time of death in criminal investigations. Experts at the Institute of Forensic Science (IFS) at Gujarat Forensic Sciences University (GFSU) have come up with a non-invasive procedure to indicate the probable time of death. The procedure is based on the analysis of pores between ridges of fingerprints. This non-invasive method can indicate the time of death with a margin of eight hours. This method may not work where the pores cannot be found or are damaged (as in cases of drowning or severe burn injuries). (14-02-2019)
New job designations for thousands of railway employees: The Indian Railways – the country’s largest and oldest employer – has lakhs of employees and hundreds of job designations. The organisation was founded in 1853 and many of the designations are as interesting as they are ancient. Born in colonial times and often reflecting the colonial past the designations perhaps need a makeover now, a change more in keeping with the realities of current work environments and requirements. The Railway Board has now come up with more contemporary and relevant designations. Some examples:
Jamadars will now be called Assistants.
Safaiwalas will be Housekeeping Assistants.
Cooks and Waiters will be Assistants (Catering).
Wash Boys, Chapati Makers, Tea/Coffee Makers, Bearers and Cleaners will be Assistants (Canteen).
Dhobis, Chowkidars, Hamals, Bhistys, Cleaners, Khalasis, Peons and Porters will also be Assistants (with their respective departments specified).
Farrash, Lifter, Finder, Record Sorter, Sandeshwahak/ Messenger will be General Assistants.
It is only in track maintenance and safety that the revised designations will still identify the specific nature of the jobs. So, Trolleyman will be Assistant (Trolley Operating). Pointsman will remain Pointsman.
The revision in designations will not involve any changes in the existing duties and responsibilities. (13-02-2019)
Vadodara airport rated second best in western region: A recent survey ranks the Vadodara airport as the second best in the western region (Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh). The survey, which measured the customer satisfaction index (CSI), was carried out for the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by a private agency. The survey was based on about 50 parameters (such as cleanliness, services and feedback from customers, airlines and passengers). The airport got the fourth rank (after Raipur, Trichy and Udaipur) at the all-India level in a survey of 51 airports done from July to December 2018. Offering connectivity to Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Indore and Jaipur, the Vadodara airport handles 4,000 passengers and 32 flight arrivals and departures daily. The airport’s new integrated terminal building was built in 2016 at a cost of Rs. 160 crore. (12-02-2019)
Gujarat government may introduce a multi-purpose mobile app for job seekers: The Gujarat government may introduce a mobile app to allow job seekers to register online, with their certificates. The app will be open for the unemployed, the underemployed and those wanting to change jobs. According to figures released in September 2018, there were 511,563 educated but unemployed persons in the state (this included 55,060 in Ahmedabad district, 35,213 in Vadodara, and 29,721 in Surat). The registration fee may be Rs. 100. Registrations will have to be renewed every year. Counselling centres may be set up at employment exchanges to help students to get jobs or pursue appropriate career-oriented courses. Employers will also be encouraged to register online and select candidates according to their needs. (11-02-2019)
MSU’s technical and professional programmes will need accreditation from the NBA: MS University has until now only applied for accreditation from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) – the autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC) that assesses and accredits all higher education institutes in the country. MSU’s technical and professional programmes will now have to seek accreditation from the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) also. Faculties like Faculty of Technology and Engineering, Faculty of Management Studies, Faculty of Pharmacy and Polytechnic College will have to get NBA accreditation as individual institutes as well. NAAC also wants to know whether the institutes have undergone ISO certification and whether administrative and academic audit (AAA) has been conducted. It will be on the basis of this that the university will be assessed in future by NAAC. The university’s deadline for re-accreditation from NAAC is December 2021. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council is an autonomous body funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of the Government of India. The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) accredits technical programmes, such as engineering and management programmes, while NAAC accredits general colleges and universities. NBA accredits programmes and not institutes. (11-02-2019)
MSU may set up centre for precise genome editing: India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) may assist MS University’s Faculty of Science to set up a Centre for Precise Genome and Metabolic Editing. This subject was perhaps considered during the recent visit to MSU of DAE secretary and chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Dr. Kamlesh Vyas. Dr. Vyas was in Vadodara as the chief guest at the annual convocation ceremony of the university. Precision genome editing is a powerful and sophisticated tool with wide applications in biology, biotechnology, agriculture and medicine, including for the treatment of blood and immune disorders. (10-02-2019)
Street food can be hygienic too: The Food Safety and Standards Organisation of India (FSSAI) is an entity that encourages and ensures hygienic street food. It is generally believed that Gujarat has quite a good record of providing clean street food. The state currently has three approved ‘Clean Street Food Hubs’ and five more are in the running for this tag. This tag is an assurance of sorts that a cluster, hub or food truck park offers food that is prepared in hygienic conditions. Ahmedabad has two such hubs – the Kankaria Lake cluster and the Urban Chowk one. Gopi Talav in Surat has the tag. Three other hubs have applied for FSSAI approval – Maa Bharti Udhyan Food Court in Dahod, Food Street in Gandhinagar and Ratri Khani Peeni Bazaar in Vadodara. Elsewhere in India, only Indore’s Chappan Dukaan has qualified for this tag. FSSAI has identified 144 sites across the country which can perhaps aspire for its approval. (09-02-2019)
Businesses can now remain open 24 x 7: The Gujarat government plans to amend the Shops and Establishments Act to allow businesses to stay open 24x7. Also, there will be no need for annual renewal of licences. Another innovation is that establishments employing more than 30 women will have to provide facilities for creches. About 700,000 business establishments will benefit. Considering that businesses will run for longer hours, the number of jobs available should also rise. The new rules will prevent any government authorities from closing shops and establishments unless there are traffic or law and order problems. Employee welfare measures will include provisions regarding creches, canteens, double wages for overtime, etc. The proposed timings are: 24x7 in municipal corporation areas, on national highways and at railway platforms, state roadways bus stations, hospitals, petrol pumps; 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. in municipal areas and on state highways; 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. in other areas. (08-02-2019)
Professor Parimal Vyas re-appointed as MSU VC: Professor Parimal Vyas has been re-appointed as vice-chancellor (VC) of MS University by the Gujarat government for another term of three years. In February 2016 he was elevated to the post of VC (he was serving then as the pro VC). As pro VC, he served as acting VC from December 2014 when the then VC professor Yogesh Singh relinquished the post. Professor Vyas obtained PhD in Commerce from Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidyanagar and Master’s Degree in Management from MS University. (07-02-2019)
Statue of Unity visiting hours increased: The visiting hours for the 182-metre Statue of Unity (the Sardar Patel memorial in Kevadiya in Narmada district) have been changed from 9 a.m-to-5 p.m. to 8 a.m.-to-6 p.m. Over 800,000 people have visited the site since its opening. In the new time slot about 7,000 visitors can view the memorial daily, against the 6,000 during the previous time slot. The entry ticket window closes at 4.30 p.m. Visitors are not permitted on Mondays. (06-02-2019)
Ahmedabad’s Medicity will be completed this year: The Medicity hospital complex in Ahmedabad is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Construction of the 1,200-bed hospital is complete whereas the speciality heart, kidney, eye and dental hospitals are under construction. It is claimed that Medicity will be the largest of its kind in the world and that the Rs. 1,450 complex will revolutionise the public health system in Gujarat. The Civil Hospital, considered to be Asia’s largest hospital, handled more than 12.7 lakh outpatients and 1.3 lakh indoor patients in 2018; it carried out over 30,000 operations. (06-02-2019)
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Worrisome water levels in many of Gujarat’s irrigation dams (08-03-2019)
Severe punishment will be given to officials involved in malpractices during board exams (07-03-2019)
Surat’s property tax defaulters can look forward to being ‘recognised’ in public (07-03-2019)
Be careful on the Fatehgunj flyover (06-03-2019)
Ahmedabad Metro train service inaugurated (05-03-2019)
Traffic police nab 274 persons for driving on the wrong side (04-03-2019)
Camel milk captures the market’s fancy (04-03-2019)
Bank of Baroda may help MS University to set up artificial intelligence centre (03-03-2019)
Ahmedabad civic body converts sludge into bio-fertilizer (03-03-2019)
Helpline to cope with board exam anxiety (02-03-2019)
More postgraduate seats added at Gujarat’s medical colleges (02-03-2019)
Six peripheral villages included in Vadodara city (01-03-2019)
Schools will be graded according to their education quality (01-03-2019)
Old Nyaya Mandir building not yet vacated (28-02-2019)
Risk and asset mapping of Champaner-Pavagadh heritage site (28-02-2019)
City’s malls and multiplexes fail security check (27-02-2019)
Start-up ideas to solve civic problems (27-02-2019)
Board exams will begin from March 7 (26-02-2019)
Local bodies often outsource their primary functions (26-02-2019)
MS University plans an ‘Alumni House’ (25-02-2019)
Conclave held to encourage SC/ST businesses (25-02-2019)
Design a mascot for the bullet train, give the mascot a name (24-02-2019)
Primary school teachers perform many non-academic tasks (23-02-2019)
CCTV cameras to be equipped with voice recorders at examination halls (22-02-2019)
Some rules changed for establishments (22-02-2019)
New parking rules at SVPI airport (21-02-2019)
Gujarat State Transport services to be affected on 21st February (21-02-2019)
Proposed bill seeks to improve job opportunities in Gujarat (20-02-2019)
Gujarat responds to road traffic bottlenecks (20-02-2019)
All-In-One Emergency Helpline Number to be launched soon (19-02-2019)
US based alumni group finances scholarships for MS University students (19-02-2019)
Vadodara will provide water to some surrounding village areas (18-02-2019)
Private ‘facility manager’ for Pune railway station (18-02-2019)
Bids received for privatisation of international airport at Ahmedabad (17-02-2019)
Make your own music when you marry (17-02-2019)
New office-bearers at Federation of Gujarat Industries (16-02-2019)
Gujarat’s diamond and jewellery sector prepares to create 6,000 jobs (16-02-2019)
Free sanitary napkins for girls in Vadodara’s municipal schools (15-02-2019)
Good news for Gujarat’s MLAs, ministers and family members (15-02-2019)
Fingerprints can indicate time of death in criminal investigations (14-02-2019)
New job designations for thousands of railway employees (13-02-2019)
Vadodara airport rated second best in western region (12-02-2019)
Gujarat government may introduce a multi-purpose mobile app for job seekers (11-02-2019)
MSU’s technical and professional programmes will need accreditation from the NBA (11-02-2019)
MSU may set up centre for precise genome editing (10-02-2019)
Street food can be hygienic too (09-02-2019)
Businesses can now remain open 24 x 7 (08-02-2019)
Professor Parimal Vyas re-appointed as MSU VC (07-02-2019)
Statue of Unity visiting hours increased (06-02-2019)
Ahmedabad’s Medicity will be completed this year (06-02-2019)
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