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Schools want to extend summer vacation: Schools in Gujarat are requesting the state government to extend the summer vacation by a week. The Gujarat School Managements Association is seeking this extension because several civic authorities have demolished temporary and permanent sheds in many schools following the recent tuition centre fire in Surat. Considering that the new school academic session will begin from June 10, the association of school managements has suggested that the academic year should begin from June 17. The schools need the extra time to ‘repair’ their infrastructure. School managements have proposed that they will compensate for this delay by adding seven days during the year. (03-06-2019)
Separate ministry proposed for animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries: The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) will be happy with the Indian government’s decision to form a separate ministry – with a separate budget and resource allocation – specifically for animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. The new department will oversee a vast area: India’s bovine population is 30 crore; dairying and animal husbandry contribute 4.2% (Rs. 7.7 lakh crore) of the country’s GDP and are a primary source of income for seven crore rural households; most of the beneficiaries are landless, small or marginal farmers; milk is the country’s largest agriculture ‘crop’ – worth Rs. 7 lakh crore, more than the value of all pulses and grains. (03-06-2019)
Stiffer penalties for chain snatching: Gujarat’s amended law to curb the snatching of chains, purses or mobiles has received the assent of the President of India. Now the minimum sentence for those found guilty will be five years’ imprisonment, extendable up to ten years. Earlier, the maximum punishment was three years’ imprisonment. Even an attempted snatching will attract a fine of Rs. 25,000 and a minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment. Hopefully, the new stringent provisions will curb the recent spate of snatching incidents. (02-06-2019)
Sardar Patel University announces new interdisciplinary course: The Sardar Patel University (SPU) in Vallabh Vidyanagar has announced a new course – MSc in artificial intelligence and machine language. This is a first for a state university in Gujarat. The course is being offered by SPU’s Indukaka Ipcowala Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Technology (IICISST). The centre has introduced several other interdisciplinary courses at the postgraduate level – applied chemistry, applied physics, biomedical science, bioinformatics, earth science and defence science. The course in artificial intelligence and machine language is for those with a bachelor’s in computer science, computer engineering or technology. (02-06-2019)
If impounded cattle do not have RFID tags, civic body will not release them: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) had conducted an exercise to ensure that all cattle in the city had Radio Frequency ID (RFID) tags. The tags help to estimate the number of cattle in the city, and also to ensure that the owners do not allow them to stray on the city’s streets. Stepping up the drive against stray cattle VMC has now announced that it will no longer release impounded cattle which do not have the RFID tag. VMC will of course put the tags on newly procured animals or those shifted to the city from other places. (01-06-2019)
Army quota liquor is not meant for civilians: Liquor from army canteens occasionally finds its way into unauthorised civilian hands. Errant soldiers are known to give away or sell some of their liquor quota. The concerned authorities have now drawn up some new procedures to prevent access by non-army personnel. The new rules have been framed after army quota liquor was found in civilian areas during police raids. The new procedure: army canteen will issue liquor bottles only to permit holders; army officer on duty will sign the bottles and remove the seal; new bottles will be given only after submitting old bottles with valid signature. This procedure will not apply to retired soldiers. (01-06-2019)
Consumption of tobacco is not cool: With 1.71 cases per 1 lakh people, Ahmedabad registers a fairly high incidence of oral cancer compared to other cities. It appears that the tobacco habit is passed through generations in the city. The Ahmedabad Cancer Foundation and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation school board jointly conducted a study on tobacco habits. The study revealed that children were regularly exposed to the use of tobacco in their families – seven out of 10 families of municipal schoolchildren reported at least one active tobacco user. Over 7,900 students, in the 10-to-14 age group, from 33 schools were covered by a team of doctors who attempted to highlight the harmful effects of tobacco use. A few students too admitted to consuming tobacco. Ahmedabad city is trying sincerely to convince children that the consumption of tobacco is not cool. A tobacco-free society can start with a tobacco-free home, and children may perhaps be effective ambassadors. (31-05-2019)
Drinking and walking may attract stiffer punishment than drinking and driving: Do you know that a person who drinks and drives in Gujarat can perhaps get away by paying a fine if he is caught, but a person who drinks and just walks on the road can be given a jail term? Strange, but it seems that this is true. The drunk pedestrian does not normally pose a threat to others on the road, but a drunk driver can certainly be very dangerous. There is obviously some discrepancy in the application of laws related to prohibition and drunk driving. Drunk people are booked under the Gujarat Prohibition Act – with minimum punishment of six months for the first-time offender, For drunk driving, police invoke the section of the Motor Vehicle Act which provides a maximum six months of jail or a fine of up to Rs. 2,000, or both. Drunk drivers are generally not booked under the special prohibition laws. So, loitering around drunk can invite a jail term, and driving in a drunk state may only attract a fine. (31-05-2019)
Airport proposed near Statue of Unity: There is more good news for tourists wanting to see the world's tallest statue. An airport facility has been proposed near the Statue of Unity (SoU). The Gujarat government has informed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) that the Narmada district administration will select suitable land for the airport in Rajpipla. SoU is located on the river island Sadhu Bet, near Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia village in Narmada district. Rajpipla is 23 kilometres from Kevadia. At present the air traveller headed for Kevadia has to come via either the Vadodara Airport or the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad. Work is also going on to provide rail connectivity. The foundation stone for the Kevadia railway station has already been laid. Inaugurated on October 31, 2018, the Statue of Unity has already become a popular tourist attraction. (30-05-2019)
Seats increased in medical, engineering and other professional courses: The Gujarat government has approved a 25% hike in seats in medical and other professional courses in order to implement the 10% economically weaker sections (EWS) quota. Gujarat is the first state to implement the quota. The increase of seats by 25% will ensure that it does not eat into the existing SC, ST and OBC quotas. Non-reserved category students with an annual family income less than Rs. 8 lakh will be eligible under the quota. Specifically, 6,809 seats will be added to the existing 31,890 seats in medical, dental and paramedical courses. The MBBS seats will go up by 914 to a total of 5,264. Besides, a new medical college will come up in Amreli with 185 seats. Students in Gujarat will get an additional 7,722 seats in engineering, 336 in pharmacy, 316 in architecture, 1,715 in MBA and 2,100 in MCA courses. Dental seats will increase by 220 to go up to 1360 seats. Ayurveda seats will increase by 335 to 2,115. Nursing will increase from 16,240 to 19975, and Physiotherapy will increase from 4,535 to 5,435. (30-05-2019)
Navratri vacation in schools and colleges to continue this year too: The Gujarat government has announced that the Navratri vacation in schools and colleges this year will be between September 30 and October 7. There will be no change in the academic calendar due to this vacation. The Diwali vacation will be shortened from three weeks to two weeks – from October 25 to November 6. This decision will be applicable to all government and private schools and colleges. (29-05-2019)
Amul wants to be India’s largest in the FMCG space: Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) – the organisation behind the Amul brand of dairy products – wants to achieve a turnover of Rs. 50,000 crore by 2020-21 and thus become India’s largest FMCG company. Its turnover for 2018-19 was Rs. 33,150 crore, 13% higher than the previous year. Currently ranked the ninth largest dairy organisation in the world, it expects to soon be among the top three. India’s demand for milk will be 600 million tonnes per year (65 crore litres per day) by 2050-51, up from the current 176 million metric tonnes per year (48 crore litres per day). Milk production needs to grow at 3.2% CAGR for the next 40 years. Amul has launched 102 new products in the last four years. The target is to now launch two new products every month. (29-05-2019)
Cattle-rearers given jail term for their stray cattle: Cattle-rearers frequently allow their animals to roam freely on public roads and disturb and endanger commuters. Now, for the first time, two Vadodara based cattle-rearers have been given a three-month jail term by way of punishment for this offence. They were also fined Rs. 5,000 each. The two were booked at Manjalpur police station as far back as in July 2017! The complaint by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation was under IPC section 308 – attempting to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Besides posing a risk to the lives of commuters, the animals also dirtied the roads. It is hoped that such punishment motivates cattle-rearers to follow the rules. (29-05-2019)
World Architecture News award for Gujarat’s Statue of Unity: Larsen & Toubro has announced that the Statue of Unity in Gujarat – the world’s tallest, and built by it in a record time of 33 months – has been featured in the 2019 World Architecture News Awards. The award recognises the best of international design in current projects. This particular award was in recognition of the country’s engineering and project management skills. The award has been placed in the ‘mixed use category’ in the 2019 World Architecture News Awards. At 182 metres (597 feet), the Statue of Unity towers above other similar structures in the world. (29-05-2019)
MSU holds exhibition to promote its courses: Starting today MS University of Baroda (MSU) is holding a two-day exhibition to give information about all the courses on offer on the campus and the admission procedures. The ‘MSU Pravesh Parichay 2019’ is being held at the Faculty of Education and Psychology, from 10 am to 8 pm. MSU plans to make this exhibition an annual feature from now on. Here are some relevant figures:
... The university offers over 450 academic programmes at its faculties and colleges.
... Enrollment has increased from 35,849 students in 2014-15 to 38,403 in 2018-19.
... MSU wants to touch an enrollment of 50,000 students over the next five years.
... MSU admits all eligible applicants in the commerce and arts streams at the bachelors level and aims to do the same in the science stream.
... The female-male student ratio is about 56.5 % to 43.5 % (21,718 girls, 16,685 boys).
... MSU will increase seats by 10 % in grant-in-aid and self-financed programmes, except in engineering, medicine, management and pharmacy where admission is through the admission committee for professional courses.
... It is proposed to offer executive PhD programmes in the near future. (28-05-2019)
Gujarat government seeks to improve learning outcomes in schools: In the UK, Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. It inspects services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. It also inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people. It is a non-ministerial department of the UK government, reporting to Parliament. Ofsted inspects a range of educational institutions, including state schools and some independent schools. The Gujarat government wants to replicate some aspects of the UK model in the state's school enrollment and evaluation drives. In June the government will launch its annual drive for school enrollment - ‘Shala Praveshotsav’, and evaluation of students - ‘Gunotsav’. Over 33,000 government primary schools will be inspected and evaluated by 300 full-time education inspectors. For the school enrollment exercise the government will focus on attendance too. Thanks to an online attendance system that has been put in place for 53 lakh students in 33,000 government primary schools, the education department plans to control the high rates of absenteeism. Absenteeism is a major reason for poor learning outcomes in government primary school students. (28-05-2019)
SSG Hospital pulled up by authorities for inadequate fire safety infrastructure: You may not believe it, but it seems that the state-run 800-bed SSG Hospital in Vadodara has not conducted a thorough safety audit – and it does not have a no-objection certificate (NOC). It has been functioning with a provisional NOC for the last two years. Unbelievably, such a large and prestigious public facility does not have adequate fire safety equipment and systems in place. Following the Surat fire tragedy, Vadodara’s civic officials have instructed the hospital administration to get all the necessary procedures done within four days, failing which there is the threat of sealing the premises. The hospital handles 6,000 visitors and 2,500 OPD patients daily. (27-05-2019)
District administration shuts all tuition and coaching classes: The Vadodara district administration and the Vadodara city police on Saturday have, through public notifications, closed down all tuition and coaching classes till July 23. The notifications apply to all such classes in all residential and commercial complexes. The ban is a preventive measure following the recent fire tragedy in Surat. The authorities may rethink on this subject if the operators get NOC from the fire department, submit proof of having fire-fighting equipment in their premises, and submit proof that they are trained in the use of such equipment. Several official agencies and personnel from 21 police stations are currently conducting checks of all tuition and coaching classes. The operators have been warned that they will face strict legal action if they are found violating the ban. (27-05-2019)
Fire audit to be conducted in city: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has roped in the New Delhi based Institution of Fire Engineers to immediately conduct a city fire audit. This move, following the recent fire tragedy in Surat, is meant to ensure that Vadodara is better prepared to avoid and handle such disasters. VMC has asked for the audit report to be submitted in 45 days. The audit is expected to:
… identify vulnerable areas
… suggest equipment and manpower needs
… assess the need and locations of additional fire stations
… recommend schedule of fire officials
… suggest improvements in training of emergency personnel
The city has seven fire stations and three more are expected to come up soon. VMC will now of course do much more rigorous and frequent checking of hotels, restaurants, hospitals, coaching classes, movie halls, malls and other places where large numbers of people gather in restricted spaces. (26-05-2019)
Fire in scrap godown on city’s outskirts: Highly inflammable waste materials caught fire on Sunday afternoon in an open scrap godown on the city’s outskirts. Located near the Jambuva bridge, the godown contained plastic, petrochemicals and chemical waste stored in the open without taking elementary safety precautions. Fire tenders from Makarpura GIDC, Dandia Bazaar and Panigate fire stations took two hours to control the fire. The godown did not have a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Vadodara Municipal Corporation or the Vadodara Fire and Emergency Services. In an earlier incident, a minor fire broke out on Saturday afternoon in a laboratory of the Department of Chemistry at MS University of Baroda. Though the fire caused some understandable panic, it was swiftly brought under control by university staff with the help of fire extinguishers. There was some minor damage to furniture in the laboratory. (26-05-2019)
LED lights have their advantages, and perhaps some disadvantages too: Are LED lights harmful, or are they not? Though there is still no conclusive answer to this persistent question, there are some disturbing findings. A recent report by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) warns that powerful LED lights are ‘photo-toxic’; the ‘blue light’ can lead to ‘irreversible loss of retinal cells and diminished sharpness of vision’. LEDs are used in homes, street lighting, offices, industry, car headlights, torches, toys and electronic devices. LED mobile phones, tablets and laptop screens do not pose much of a risk because their luminosity is low compared to other types of lighting, but when these back-lit devices are used in a dark setting they can adversely affect biological rhythms and sleep patterns. Children and adolescents are more susceptible to such disruptions. Light-emitting diode (LED) technology constitutes 60% of the lighting market, because it uses only 20% of the electricity used by a comparably bright incandescent bulb. Manufacturers, and the traffic police, must make LED car headlights safer because they can be dangerously blinding for oncoming drivers. (25-05-2019)
Young Barodian lady has supported the education of 23,000 girls: Vadodara based Nishita Rajput has spent a large part of her time collecting money for the education of underprivileged girls. She has been doing this for well over 10 years; she started at age 14. She collects donations in the form of cheques and deposits the cheques in the schools that the girls study in. When she was young her parents took her along with them to visit orphanages. She continues to dream of educating as many girls as possible. She gets donations from Vadodara, neighbouring areas and from other countries too. Her latest target is to raise money to pay for the fees of 10,000 girls this year. Donors are given details of the girls supported by their contributions. Her ‘score’ to date: support for the education of 23,000 girls with an amount of Rs. 2.55 crore. (25-05-2019)
Recycled PET bottles used instead of sand in low-cost concrete structures: Two researchers – Anuradha Suryavanshi from India and Elisabeth Riederer from Germany – did research at the Architectural Association in London to develop a new technique for the construction of low-cost concrete structures. They used recycled PET bottles instead of sand in a cement-based composite. Using discarded plastic bottles for this purpose also solves the problem of plastic garbage polluting the environment. Marine sand that is suitable for concrete construction is getting scarce and concrete constructions are becoming expensive. The dumped plastic bottles can be used to make a cheaper alternative building material. The use of PET bottles reduces the need for sand by about 13%, which in turn saves 10 to 15% of the cost. The new material can compete with glass reinforced concrete in some applications. It is light-weight, environment friendly and stronger. This plastic-in-concrete material can last for 35 to 50 years. It can also be an alternate source of income for thousands of slum dwellers in areas like Dharavi which can easily become recycling hubs. Incidentally, Anuradha is a gold medallist from MS University of Baroda. (24-05-2019)
Gujarat will track 195,000 teachers in 32,700 schools: The Gujarat government has put in place a surveillance plan to keep track of over 195,000 school teachers in the state. The plan’s purpose is to ensure that teachers stick to assigned tasks on a daily basis. There were too many complaints that teachers were monitored inadequately and that this led to absenteeism and a casual approach to work. Not only teachers, even their supervisors will be monitored by the surveillance system. The system will be run from a sophisticated command and control centre located in Gandhinagar. The 50 employees at the centre will be recruited from the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the office of the Director of Primary Education (DPE). There will also be a call centre which will be run by the office of the Principal Secretary (Education). Teachers across the state will be monitored on a realtime basis. Over 1,200 telephone calls will be made daily from the call centre to randomly selected teachers. Details obtained by the call centre will be verified with online data collected by other means. An online attendance system has already been activated, and teachers now know that they are being monitored in realtime. Each caller from the centre will ask about 10 strategically framed questions. These questions will change periodically. The tracking system is also designed to seek feedback and suggestions from teachers, for instance about innovations or new teaching methods that the teachers may want to adopt but are being discouraged from doing so. Teachers should feel that they are being heard and their suggestions are being considered seriously. With over 32,700 schools and 195,000 teachers, this tracking system has a lot to take care of. Many people will be surprised to learn that 12,000 schools are run by just one or two teachers each. Not all teachers are lazy or incompetent. They are also saddled with other responsibilities: election duties, carrying out surveys, pulse polio campaigns, maintaining mid-day meal registers, etc. (24-05-2019)
Six women win Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat: All the six women who contested in the 2019 general election from Gujarat were fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party and won by impressive margins. Darshana Jardosh won the Surat Lok Sabha seat by a margin of over 5.4 lakh votes. Ranjanben Bhatt won the Vadodara seat with a margin of over 5.8 lakh votes. Bharti Shiyal won the Bhavnagar seat with a margin of over 3.2 lakh votes. Shardaben Patel took the Mehsana seat with a margin of over 2.6 lakh. In the Chhota Udepur seat Geeta Rathva won by over 3.7 lakh votes. In Jamnagar Poonam Maadam won by over 2.3 lakh votes. (23-05-2019)
Plastic bags and pouches banned in wildlife sanctuaries: Water bottles, pouches, bags and other plastic material have been banned by the Gujarat government in the state’s wildlife sanctuaries – Gir National Park, Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary, Wild Ass Sanctuary, etc. A notification to this effect has been issued under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The non-biodegradable waste dumped in the sanctuaries has been posing a threat to the wildlife. Animals have been found eating discarded plastic bags. The owners of tourist vehicles will be held responsible if tourists are found disposing of waste. (23-05-2019)
Satellite ‘outgrowth’ areas may be merged with major cities: The Gujarat government will include satellite ‘outgrowth’ areas within municipal corporation limits. Urban development departments and municipal corporations have been asked to draft a report on additional urban growth centres, villages or towns that can be included within the limits of major municipal corporations before the 2020 civic polls for eight municipal corporations and about 100 municipalities. For instance, Bhayli, Dena and Undera may perhaps be included in Vadodara municipal limits. Gujarat city limits are likely to be revised by the end of 2019. A similar exercise was last conducted in 2006-07. (22-05-2019)
Driving licenses of 233 citizens suspended: Mild punishments have not worked with some irresponsible vehicle owners who insist on driving on the wrong side of the road. The city’s traffic police have now started imposing stiffer penalties. Between January 1 and May 15 the driving licenses of 233 citizens were suspended by the regional transport office (RTO) on the recommendation of the traffic police. Hearings are pending in another 98 cases. Vehicles of the offending drivers were seized, and released only after the fines were paid. Police personnel caught 5,108 persons driving on the wrong side, and 4,777 of them were fined on the spot; the penalty amount collected was Rs. 4.77 lakh. (22-05-2019)
Do not tamper with your vehicle’s number plates: In order to evade e-memo fines of Rs. 100 to Rs. 300 some oversmart drivers tamper with the registration plates of their vehicles. The traffic police take a strict view on number plate tampering. The errant driver can even face forgery charges. It is illegal to alter, hide or camouflage vehicle number plates. A driver in Ahmedabad altered his car’s registration number with paint to avoid receiving repeated e-memos for traffic offences. He was eventually caught by the cops and charged for forgery, an offence which invites up to 10 years in jail. (21-05-2019)
Milk prices go up: Milk prices will increase by Rs. 2 per litre across India, including Gujarat, from Tuesday. Amul, the brand marketed by Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), will cost more in almost all major markets – Gujarat, Delhi-NCR, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttaranchal. The increase in Gujarat will first take place in Ahmedabad and Saurashtra; it will take effect later in other areas. The new prices for a 500 ml pouch: Amul Gold (Rs 27), Amul Shakti (Rs. 25), Amul Taaza (Rs. 21), Amul Diamond (Rs. 28). The prices of cow milk remain unchanged. Amul Tea Special will cost Rs. 25 per 500 ml. GCMMF procures 190 lakh litres per day (LLPD) in Gujarat and 25 LLPD from village level milk societies located outside Gujarat. (21-05-2019)
Ahmedabad slaps fines on people who spit and urinate in public: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is slapping fines on those who spit or urinate in public places. After the drive started on May 13, the civic body has collected Rs. 12.43 lakh from those who were ‘caught in the act’ for a variety of offences: urinating in public, spitting in public, illegal use of plastic bags, violation of solid waste rules. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation can also copy this idea. (20-05-2019)
No response from prospective partners for Surat’s e-bus project: The recent tender pertaining to the 100 e-buses project of the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) did not got any response from prospective partners. No agency seems to be prepared to invest the amount of Rs. 125 to Rs. 150 crore needed to pay for running and maintaining 100 e-buses. The current mass transportation scene in Surat is: 166 BRTS and 325 city buses (all diesel), 40 routes, 325 sq km area, 2.10 lakh commuters daily. With the massive pollution belched out by all the diesel buses, SMC opted to go in for e-buses. The plan was that private operators will procure, run and maintain the e-buses and SMC will provide the infrastructure and pay per km. The tender has been floated again, and SMC hopes for a better response this time. (20-05-2019)
Defence industries corridor to be developed in Gujarat: The Gujarat government will develop a defence industries corridor, a dedicated area in which national and international defence sector companies can be invited to invest. The corridor will include parts of Ahmedabad district (Dholera SIR), Surendranagar, Kutch and some areas of north Gujarat and coastal Saurashtra. Over 20 companies have defence manufacturing licenses for Gujarat from the Indian government. L&T has already started a tank manufacturing plant at Hazira. The state government will need to notify unpopulated land for testing guns, short distance missiles, etc. Under the proposed policy land will be made available at 50% of ‘jantri’ rates for setting up units and there will be a 100% rebate of stamp duty and registration charges on land purchased. Also proposed is an electricity duty waiver for five years after commencement of production. (19-05-2019)
Special traffic penalty collection centres announced: Vadodara’s traffic police department has announced the opening of five collection centres for fines notified through e-challans issued to drivers who violated traffic rules. The locations of the five centres are Dandia Bazaar Crossroads, Pratapnagar-Dabhoi Crossroads, Sardar Estate, Bird Circle and Mujmahuda Circle. These centres will close on May 26. Penalties can also be paid at any State Bank of India (SBI) branch, traffic police website, Police Bhavan and traffic department in Karelibaug. Dues are yet to be recovered against 1.22 lakh e-challans issued during the last 12 months. (19-05-2019)
Happy days for radiologists and dermatologists: The current favourites among postgraduate medical courses are radiology and dermatology. These two programmes have overtaken the traditional ‘hot’ choices – orthopaedics, surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics and medicine. The trend has changed because of the high demand for radiologists and dermatologists, a demand that has been triggered by better job opportunities, less pressure of emergencies, more relaxed working hours and reduced professional risks. As the demand for radiologists and dermatologists has increased, so have the fees for these courses. At self-financed colleges the fees for these programmes are about Rs. 50 lakh, against Rs. 40 lakh for the PG course in medicine. The ‘returns’ are high too: a fresh doctor with a postgraduate degree in these two fields can easily walk into a job which offers Rs. 2 lakh per month. (18-05-2019)
Interesting tree conservation step: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is toying with an interesting idea: a fine of Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh for every tree that falls short of the mandated number in a residential or commercial property. No residential or commercial scheme should have fewer trees surviving than that mandated by the ‘building use’ permission granted to it. AMC has instructed all zonal offices to begin inspecting about 3,500 residential and commercial properties built between 2016 and 2019; the tree count mentioned in the town planning records must match the actual count on the property. Societies may face punitive action if the tree counts are short of the figures in the TP records. Societies must submit photographs of tree plantations for the official record. The ‘Nature Conservancy Report’ in 2016 stated that Ahmedabad was among 10 global cities in need of massive investments in tree plantation in order to reduce pollution. (18-05-2019)
Hospital affected by fire did not have an adequate fire-fighting system: Several days back a major fire had taken place on the terrace of a private hospital on Waghodia Road. Patients (two in an ICU and eight others in wards and rooms), their relatives and the hospital’s staff were rescued in time and sent to other hospitals in the vicinity. The hospital’s storage area and medical store located on the terrace were completely damaged. Whatever be the cause for the fire, it took two hours to control it. Investigations into the incident are going on, but it seems that the hospital did not have a fire-fighting system. It did have fire extinguishers. The hospital is by no means a small facility. How come the civic authorities allowed it to function even though it did not have a fire-fighting system? How many other similarly dangerous buildings are there in Vadodara? (17-05-2019)
Radio-frequency identification tags help to track stray cattle: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has ordered 50,000 RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags in its campaign to control the problem of stray cattle. The tags are being put under the skin of impounded stray cattle in order to keep track of them The idea is to create a data base of stray cattle and determine how often the same animal is impounded. The forest department also uses RFID tags, but for a different purpose, to keep track of the movements of lions and leopards. In the first ten days of the drive against stray cattle, over 150 cows were tagged. Once the animals are tagged and linked automatically to their owners, it becomes easier to quickly impose progressively higher penalties on repeat offenders. (17-05-2019)
575,000 e-challans issued for traffic violations: Between April 2018 and April 2019 Vadodara’s police department issued 575,000 e-challans for traffic violations, the total penalty amount being Rs. 8.07 crore. Going by these figures, the city’s drivers do not seem to be particularly law-abiding. The CCTVs on the roads are a big help in quickly issuing the e-challans. Some drivers have received as many as 15 or more e-challans; these cases are being pursued more vigorously, and it is likely that the concerned drivers may lose their licenses or have their vehicles confiscated if they do not pay the penalties. (16-05-2019)
Torrent Pharma is now Gujarat’s most valued pharma company: Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd. has now replaced Cadila Healthcare Ltd. (Zydus Cadila) as Gujarat’s most valued pharma company in terms of market capitalisation. Torrent’s m-cap (Rs. 27,629 crore) is Rs. 991 crore more than Cadila’s (Rs 26,638 crore). Over the last 12 months Cadila’s share price declined by over 32%, and Torrent’s increased by 21%. Incidentally, Cadila’s USA subsidiary (Zydus Pharmaceuticals Inc) is among the generic drug firms facing lawsuits there. (16-05-2019)
Valsad’s alphonso mango crop hit by industrial pollution: Industrial pollution has hit the Valsadi Hafoos, the alphonso mango loved by so many people. Over 1,600 Valsad farmers are now demanding that the government should compensate them for the failure of their mango crop. The pollution is estimated to have affected over 50% of the crop. The compensation being sought is Rs. 18,000 per hectare. The farmers are also suggesting that the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) should install suitable air pollution monitoring systems in the affected villages. (15-05-2019)
Implanting lens in the eyes is not necessarily cosmetic surgery: Some people have lens implanted in the eyes in order to avoid wearing spectacles. How do insurance companies view such interventions when they are faced with medical claims? In one recent case, a lady – age 82 – in Vadodara spent Rs. 80,000 for cataract surgeries. When she submitted the claim for reimbursement the insurance company cleared only Rs. 44,300 on the ground that the lens implanted to avoid wearing spectacles had cosmetic benefits only. The matter was subsequently taken up by the Vadodara District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. The consumer court ordered the insurance company to pay the insured amount because such a surgical procedure cannot be considered cosmetic in nature. The doctor who treated the patient certified that the way in which the surgery was performed was not for cosmetic purposes. The specialist said that a special lens had to be implanted and that any other lens would have damaged the eyesight. The purpose was not to eliminate spectacles but to remove the cataract. (15-05-2019)
No helmet, no petrol: Effective June 1, fuel stations in Noida will not sell petrol to bikers without helmets. This directive has been issued by the district administration in order to promote road safety. The initiative will be extended to other areas depending upon the feedback. The administration has also warned that drivers are liable to be arrested if they misbehave with the staff at petrol filling stations. Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, states that not wearing a helmet while riding a two-wheeler can attract imprisonment of up to six months. The owners of filling stations have been instructed to ensure that their CCTV cameras are of reasonably good quality. (14-05-2019)
CCTV surveillance has not reduced cheating in board exams: CCTV cameras in examination centres are supposed to discourage cheating and copying. This year over 2,500 cases of cheating were caught after footage from about 3,500 CDs was examined. After studying the experience with CCTV cameras the authorities have not found a significant decrease in cheating cases. The figures: 2,500 cases in 2016, 2,100 in 2017, 2,550 in 2018. There have been instances where schools submitted tampered CDs of the CCTV footage. In some cases electricity supply was intentionally disrupted to prevent CCTV recordings. (14-05-2019)
Bengaluru’s traffic cops pitch in to fill potholes: A biker in Bengaluru crashed into a car while trying to avoid a pothole in the road. Rather than wait for the city’s municipal authorities to wake up to such hazards the traffic police launched a pothole filling drive to prevent similar accidents. Pretty soon 350 potholes were identified and attended to by the cops. During the last monsoon 20 people died due to pothole related accidents. While they are at it, the cops are also helping to clear stormwater drains choked with garbage and plastic waste. The Bengaluru police department has even drawn up its own monsoon checklist. Perhaps there is a small lesson here for Vadodara’s traffic police. Our city’s roads too have some dangerous spots and the traffic police and PCR van personnel can easily report them to the police control room. Sure, this may not be a legitimate police responsibility, but such voluntary work can certainly earn the cops a lot of goodwill. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation needs to use this help. (13-05-2019)
Over 21,000 Barodians paid Rs. 37 lakh for traffic offences last week: The Vadodara traffic police went into top gear last week to nab errant drivers. They managed to book over 21,000 drivers who shelled out Rs. 37 lakh by way of fines. The usual offences: not wearing helmets, over-speeding, using phones while driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, overloaded autorickshaws, improper parking. Over 3,000 vehicles were towed away from no-parking zones and over 14,600 e-challans were sent out. The cops say that a lot of rules are broken on busy roads during peak hours. Perhaps the police should try watching the same roads at non-peak hours. For instance, check out R.C. Dutt Road near Bombay Shopping Centre on any evening between 9 pm and 10 pm: you can easily spot at least 50 two-wheelers and four-wheelers (yes, four-wheelers too!) brazenly driving on the wrong side of the road. The cops know their job best, but it may be a good idea to spring some unpleasant but well-deserved surprises on the city’s road rowdies. (13-05-2019)
Gujarat police force ‘recruits’ two Belgian Malinois puppies: The Gujarat police force has recently ‘recruited’ two Belgian Malinois puppies to assist in anti-terror and mob control activities. These dogs are strong and rugged and exhibit a wide range of temperament and instinctive aggressiveness. Often called ‘war dogs’ this breed is certainly not suitable for households with small, erratic children. Such dogs are used widely the world over in security operations. The Gujarat cops want to buy 34 more such dogs. The two recently acquired puppies are being trained at the National Training Centre for Dogs in the BSF Academy at Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh. Following a further stint at the National Training Centre in New Delhi, they will finally be ready for deployment in the Ahmedabad dog squad. Such dogs perform various activities as police dogs: herding, protection and law enforcement; drug, bomb and gas detection; search and rescue; tracking; therapy assistance to disabled. They can effectively chase suspects and take them down. (12-05-2019)
Hospitalisation only for tests, not treatment, but insurer was directed to pay claim: A consumer court in Ahmedabad directed an insurance company to pay the claim of a policy holder who was admitted to a hospital for diagnosis and not treated for any ailment. The doctor had advised him to be hospitalisation for some tests because of his symptoms. The insurer said it was not liable to pay because the hospital stay was essentially for diagnostic reasons and no active treatment had been carried out for his illness. The Ahmedabad Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum took the view that the hospitalisation was for evaluation of the patient’s condition and the subsequent management and control of the ailment; this is not possible to do for an outpatient. The court said that it can be termed active treatment. (12-05-2019)
Air India announces daily morning flight to Delhi: Flight schedules have been severely disrupted by the grounding of Jet Airways and passengers have been hassled, to say the least. Now there is some good news. Air India has announced that, starting June 5, it will start a daily morning flight from Vadodara to Delhi. Departing from Vadodara at 6.50 a.m. it will reach Delhi at 8.20 a.m. Departing from Delhi at 4.45 a.m. it will reach Vadodara at 6.20 a.m. These timings will give passengers a full working day at Delhi as well as at Vadodara. Air India will thus be running two daily flights to Delhi. Indigo already has a morning flight to Delhi. (11-05-2019)
Waste water can be treated and reused: The Gujarat government has taken up two projects to treat waste water in Ahmedabad and send it through a 90-km bulk water pipeline to Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR) and Mandal-Becharaji Special Investment Region (MBSIR). The objective is to decrease the use of fresh water for industrial purposes. The reuse of treated waste water should help to reduce the state’s dependence for water on the Narmada Yojana. Narmada water is available to eight municipal corporations (Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Gandhinagar) and local area development authorities. Government authorities are aiming to use 75% treated waste water in industries, construction work, local parks and gardens and thereby reduce the load on local water bodies. Treated waste water can also be used in irrigation. It is also planned to eventually fill the Sabarmati Riverfront with treated waste water. (11-05-2019)
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Schools want to extend summer vacation (03-06-2019)
Separate ministry proposed for animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries (03-06-2019)
Stiffer penalties for chain snatching (02-06-2019)
Sardar Patel University announces new interdisciplinary course (02-06-2019)
If impounded cattle do not have RFID tags, civic body will not release them (01-06-2019)
Army quota liquor is not meant for civilians (01-06-2019)
Consumption of tobacco is not cool (31-05-2019)
Drinking and walking may attract stiffer punishment than drinking and driving (31-05-2019)
Airport proposed near Statue of Unity (30-05-2019)
Seats increased in medical, engineering and other professional courses (30-05-2019)
Navratri vacation in schools and colleges to continue this year too (29-05-2019)
Amul wants to be India’s largest in the FMCG space (29-05-2019)
Cattle-rearers given jail term for their stray cattle (29-05-2019)
World Architecture News award for Gujarat’s Statue of Unity (29-05-2019)
MSU holds exhibition to promote its courses (28-05-2019)
Gujarat government seeks to improve learning outcomes in schools (28-05-2019)
SSG Hospital pulled up by authorities for inadequate fire safety infrastructure (27-05-2019)
District administration shuts all tuition and coaching classes (27-05-2019)
Fire audit to be conducted in city (26-05-2019)
Fire in scrap godown on city’s outskirts (26-05-2019)
LED lights have their advantages, and perhaps some disadvantages too (25-05-2019)
Young Barodian lady has supported the education of 23,000 girls (25-05-2019)
Recycled PET bottles used instead of sand in low-cost concrete structures (24-05-2019)
Gujarat will track 195,000 teachers in 32,700 schools (24-05-2019)
Six women win Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat (23-05-2019)
Plastic bags and pouches banned in wildlife sanctuaries (23-05-2019)
Satellite ‘outgrowth’ areas may be merged with major cities (22-05-2019)
Driving licenses of 233 citizens suspended (22-05-2019)
Do not tamper with your vehicle’s number plates (21-05-2019)
Milk prices go up (21-05-2019)
Ahmedabad slaps fines on people who spit and urinate in public (20-05-2019)
No response from prospective partners for Surat’s e-bus project (20-05-2019)
Defence industries corridor to be developed in Gujarat (19-05-2019)
Special traffic penalty collection centres announced (19-05-2019)
Happy days for radiologists and dermatologists (18-05-2019)
Interesting tree conservation step (18-05-2019)
Hospital affected by fire did not have an adequate fire-fighting system (17-05-2019)
Radio-frequency identification tags help to track stray cattle (17-05-2019)
575,000 e-challans issued for traffic violations (16-05-2019)
Torrent Pharma is now Gujarat’s most valued pharma company (16-05-2019)
Valsad’s alphonso mango crop hit by industrial pollution (15-05-2019)
Implanting lens in the eyes is not necessarily cosmetic surgery (15-05-2019)
No helmet, no petrol (14-05-2019)
CCTV surveillance has not reduced cheating in board exams (14-05-2019)
Bengaluru’s traffic cops pitch in to fill potholes (13-05-2019)
Over 21,000 Barodians paid Rs. 37 lakh for traffic offences last week (13-05-2019)
Gujarat police force ‘recruits’ two Belgian Malinois puppies (12-05-2019)
Hospitalisation only for tests, not treatment, but insurer was directed to pay claim (12-05-2019)
Air India announces daily morning flight to Delhi (11-05-2019)
Waste water can be treated and reused (11-05-2019)
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