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Universities asked to submit five-year development plan: All universities in Gujarat have been asked to submit a five-year development plan to the government, within a month. Over 25 criteria, along the lines suggested by the University Grants Commission, are to be considered, such as quality of education, student-teacher ratios, introduction of new courses, infrastructure, quality of manpower, student placements, etc. The state government wants to make higher education more competitive and provide industry-friendly education so that students can get better employment opportunities. (19-05-2018)
Centre recognises Banas Medical College: Based on the recommendation of the Medical Council of India (MCI) the central government’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recognised the 150-seat Banas Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) in Palanpur, Banaskantha. It will be affiliated to the Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University, Patan. Incidentally, this institution will be India’s first trust-run teaching hospital in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode. It will also be the first to be run by a dairy co-operative, Banas Dairy. Banas Dairy is a member of Amul – otherwise known as Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF). (19-05-2018)
The summer continues to oppress: Vadodara had its hottest day yet this summer on Thursday with the temperature touching 43 degrees Celsius. Those most in need were the men and women of the 108 emergency services who attended to 36 emergencies. A postman on his rounds was overcome by the heat and was rushed to SSG Hospital but, unfortunately, he passed away before reaching the hospital. The oppressive heat, hot winds and humidity ensured that people stayed off the streets unless absolutely necessary. Even the traffic cops were compelled to take shelter under the nearest trees. The forecasts for the next few days are not very encouraging, so Barodians will have to continue to take care. (18-05-2018)
Gujarat speeds up work on HIV prevention and care: To speed up the achievement goals of HIV prevention, care and treatment, Gujarat has launched the Unified Budget, Responsibility and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) project. The project will be implemented by the state’s department of health and family welfare and it will be supported by seven UN agencies — UNICEF, WHO, ILO, UNESCO, UNODC, UNDP and UNFPA. The implementing agency gets a budget of $2 million for one year, with the possibility of being extended for one more year. The 2017-18 figures of Gujarat State AIDS Control Society (GSACS) show that 0.4% of the population (166,000 individuals) are HIV positive; the national average is 0.34% for the 15-49 age group. (18-05-2018)
State is overflowing with vehicles: Data published by the state transport department reveals that Gujarat is almost overflowing with vehicles:
... The total number of vehicles registered in the state was 1.01 crore in 2007; it rose to 2.38 crore in 2017, an increase of 135% in 10 years.
... 17.31 lakh vehicles were registered in 2017, that is, 4,742 vehicles per day, or three vehicles for every 100 people in the state.
...Only Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra had higher numbers. (18-05-2018)
Medical care for senior citizens: The Gujarat government is considering starting a pilot project for unwell senior citizens over 70. The senior citizen will receive a fortnightly home visit from a team consisting of a doctor, a nurse and an attendant; the team (equipped with blood pressure monitoring machine, inhaler, ECG machine and medicines usually prescribed for the old) will conduct a detailed medical checkup. Emergency medical calls will also be made, for a fee of Rs. 200. For the pilot project, at Gandhinagar, the senior citizen will need to be registered with the Gandhinagar Civil Hospital by paying a fee of Rs. 1,000. Based on the results of the pilot project, it is likely to be replicated across the state. (17-05-2018)
Your electricity company may be liable to pay if its fault damages your appliances: Several years back an error apparently committed by a few employees of Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd (MGVCL) resulted in some appliances being damaged in the homes of customers. The Vadodara district consumer forum has ruled that the power distribution company is liable to pay to customers whose electronic appliances were damaged. The consumer forum asked the power distribution company to pay 20 % of the cost of the electronic appliances to those complainants who could produce bills of their products. MGVCL has also been asked to pay 8% interest since the time the complaint was registered in the court. (17-05-2018)
Police department starts a campaign to tame the city’s traffic: Vadodara’s police department has begun a campaign to crack down on those who cause traffic problems. The objective is zero tolerance of those who violate the rules and mess up the smooth flow of traffic in the city’s busy areas. A team of 15 policemen has been formed to zero in on specific areas for a few hours every day. The team is authorised to remove encroachments and illegal roadside eateries, bring down unauthorised hoardings, act against illegal parking and penalise commuters flouting traffic rules. This special police team can perhaps consider moving around in unmarked police cars, so that it can surprise habitual offenders who display their worst and most dangerous traffic manners when the cops are not looking. Too many Barodians drive as if there will be no tomorrow (for the other citizens who are also using the road), and it is about time the cops catch up with them and teach them a few driving manners. The police department will appreciate receiving suggestions from citizens about how this campaign can be made more effective. (16-05-2018)
“We are collectively colour blind”: Many vehicle owners in many cities in Gujarat – and our city Vadodara is no exception – do not believe that traffic signals need to be respected. They merrily ignore the traffic lights – for them orange is green, red is green and green of course is also green. Speaking at a recent event Ahmedabad police commissioner A.K. Singh was very critical of the traffic sense of the citizens in his city. Expressing his disapproval of ill-mannered driving habits he said, “We are collectively colour blind to not be able to see the signal turning red and just rush through. It is sad that an automated traffic signal needs to be manned by a group of six police personnel…. How callous and careless we are that a pedestrian does not even have the right to walk on the road. This reflects a serious lack of civic sense in the citizens.” The commissioner has a point, and perhaps it applies to Vadodara too. (15-05-2018)
Pune's successful Public Bicycle Sharing scheme may have lessons for Vadodara: Vadodara may have a lot to learn from the Public Bicycle Sharing (PBS) scheme which launched successfully in Pune in December 2017. Till March 2018, 350,000 cycle trips have been completed, which is higher than the global standards for cities with PBS. In Pune five trips per cycle per day is the rate at which bicycles are getting booked on a special app (the global high is three trips per cycle per day). The number of bicycles used in the scheme is over 1,500. The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is collaborating on this project with the authorities in Pune under the Smart City Mission. The Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL) has allotted Rs. 10 crore for developing newer cycle sharing tracks, planning cycle parking, putting up signage boards and carrying out resident engagement programmes. The aim: to increase the number of cyclists in Pune from the current 3 per cent of the total population to 25 per cent by 2031. Vadodara can perhaps take a closer look at the Pune model and consider whether it can be implemented in Vadodara. (14-05-2018)
MS University hostel fees may be increased: There is a proposal to increase the fees charged by the Halls of Residence of MS University of Baroda (MSU). The campus has 12 hostels for boys and four for girls, and the hostel advisory committee has suggested an increase of 10 per cent in the fees. The annual fee may be increased from Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 7,000 and the one-time deposit from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000. The MSU syndicate has yet to approve the proposal. The increased fees are meant to cover fresh outlays for CCTV cameras, tightened security and more student amenities. A suggestion has also been made to ask the Gujarat government to give MSU’s girl students priority in admissions at the ‘Samras Hostel’ campus. The Samras Hostel campus, which has been set up by the state government on MSU land in the Polytechnic College premises, can take in about 1,000 girls. (14-05-2018)
Gujarat’s Online Development Permission System will grant approvals for building plans within 24 hours: The Gujarat government has launched ‘Online Development Permission System’ (ODPS). The system will apply to 162 nagarpalikas in the state. Citizens will not require permission to construct up to limit 125 sq. mt. The new system, which seeks to eliminate corruption in the real estate sector, will provide ‘building permission’ to developers and builders within 24 hours, without any human interference. It seems that the latest technology has been deployed to implement the ODPS. In order to meet approval, plans submitted online should be as the GDCR (General Development Control Regulations). This applies to industrial, commercial and residential plans. You can submit your plans online at any time and get them approved online from any place – your home or your office – in India or abroad. Using GIS technology, this system is being implemented in all the municipal corporations, municipalities and urban development authorities of the state. (13-05-2018)
National Rail & Transport Institute at Vadodara: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to granted ‘deemed to be university status’ to the proposed National Rail and Transport Institute (NRTI) at Vadodara. It will be India’s first railway university. A letter of intent has been issued for setting up the railway university at the city based National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR). The university will be a ‘De novo’ institution, that is, an institution devoted to teaching and research in unique and emerging areas of knowledge, as determined by academic community peers. It is hoped that the university will help to provide the increasing manpower training and development needs of the country’s transportation sector. Both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes will be offered. (12-05-2018)
High security registration plates must be fitted on vehicles by July 31: High security registration plates must be fitted on vehicles by July 31: The Gujarat government has extended the deadline for fitting high security registration plates (HSRPs) on vehicles till July 31. The deadline has been stretched further because thousands of vehicles still have to be fitted with HSRPs. (12-05-2018)
Free medical treatment during the first 48 hours for road accident victims in Gujarat: According a Gujarat government announcement it will provide free treatment for the first 48 hours to all road accident victims admitted to any government or private hospital in the state. The government will bear medical expenses of up to Rs. 50,000 for each victim. This will also apply to people from other states or citizens from other countries for a road accident in Gujarat. The first 48 hours after an accident are crucial and the purpose behind this new rule is to ensure that the victim gets the best medical attention, whether it is at a private or a public hospital. The rule takes into consideration the fact that not all public health centres are equipped with the necessary emergency care facilities and specialist doctors. With the new system in place, private hospitals will not take any charge up to Rs. 50,000 for the first 48 hours; the government will reimburse the amount to the hospital. There is no income criteria attached to this rule. It is to be hoped that a few unscrupulous hospitals and anti-social elements do not defeat the purpose behind this admirable idea. (11-05-2018)
Commercial complex should not collect parking charges: A Surat resident has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Gujarat high court against the parking charges levied by the owners of malls, multiplexes and commercial complexes. The complainant says that commercial buildings are often constructed without any provision for parking; in spite of this the property owners charge a fee for parking, which is illegal. According to the complainant, no commercial complex can collect parking charges. The next hearing on the matter will be in July. (10-05-2018)
Ajwa reservoir level is dropping: Even though the Ajwa Reservoir is receiving 20 cubic feet per second (cusecs) of water from a branch of the Narmada canal, the reservoir level is falling 0.6 inches daily. In order to avert a water crisis, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has again asked Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (SSNNL) to increase the discharge into the reservoir. Thanks to the depleted level of the reservoir, VMC can only draw 132 million litres per day (MLD) against the 145 MLD which it really needs. If the reservoir level drops to 204 feet, VMC can draw only 120 MLD; at 203 feet this will further reduce to 90 MLD. (09-05-2018)
Builders sometimes misrepresent parking areas in multi-storied buildings: Here is a simple yet brilliant idea which could have been tried out much earlier. Still, better late than never. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has started to upload all parking plans for all multi-storied buildings on its website. To eliminate any confusion about the identity of a building, its photograph – taken on the day when the building use permission was granted – will also be uploaded. The idea is to highlight the disparity between what a builder reveals to the municipal corporation and what he reveals to a prospective buyer. The website details the different areas for two-wheeler, four-wheeler and visitor parking. It is hoped that the website will help citizens to point out irregularities. (08-05-2018)
The summer heat has the upper hand over Barodians: As the rising number of emergency service calls suggest, this summer has not been very kind to Barodians. On Sunday the mercury hit a maximum of 41.6° C. This kind of heat often causes dizziness, chest pain, abdominal pain or unconsciousness. The 108 service is handling more than the usual number of heat related emergencies – 16 on Saturday. Face masks and gloves help, though it is best to avoid going out in the afternoon. Barodians are perhaps better off than the residents of Surendranagar who suffered 43.5°C on Sunday! (07-05-2018)
Ajwa reservoir gets a daily 48-million-litre ‘refill’ from Narmada: In the face of a water emergency the Gujarat government came to Vadodara’s aid by releasing water for the Ajwa reservoir from a Narmada branch canal. At a rate of 20 cubic feet per second (cusec), Ajwa is getting a ‘refill’ of about 48 million litres per day (MLD). But not too many things come free in this world, and the Vadodara Municipal Corporation will have to pay for the water, at perhaps Rs. 150,000 per day. This charge will have to be paid until such time as the monsoon steps in to bail out the city. Incidentally, the city needs a total of 145 MLD of water daily. The civic body will therefore have to put other measures in place to meet the shortfall; the daily Narmada dose is by itself not enough. (07-05-2018)
No takers for cycle sharing project: There was a fair amount of novelty attached to the cycle sharing project when it was first proposed as a part of the Smart City initiative. This public-private partnership scheme may now be shelved for the moment because there seem to be no privates interested enough to invest in the idea. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) made repeated attempts to invite expressions of interest from vendors, but there have been no takers. One possible reason could be that VMC on its part is not prepared to make any financial outlay whatsoever. Another reason is that vendors may not consider the project to be viable on its own. Cycle sharing schemes work better in cities which have mass transit systems and the cycle sharing systems feed these systems. A similar project is still being considered by MS University of Baroda for its own campus and surrounding areas (Fatehgunj, Sayajigunj, Sayajibaug, Pratapgunj). (06-05-2018)
Medical community worries about the ethics in ethical healthcare: At its recent first National Conference on Ethical Healthcare the Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) expressed concern about deteriorating ethical standards and the stark commercialisation of medical practice. Doctors said that there was a need to ensure that fees charged by private medical colleges were not higher than those charged by public medical colleges. The doctors also agreed not to accept gifts, sponsorships and any kind of financial or non-financial incentives from pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Doctors should also refrain from giving or taking commissions or referral charges, directly or indirectly. The doctors urged people not to demand any procedure based on hearsay or advertisements. The ADEH website says that its member doctors “... are speaking on behalf of the large number of conscientious, rational doctors in India with a sense of anguish and distress regarding the state of medical practice in India today. It is a fact that ethical standards in private medical practice have been deteriorating and today, incidences of malpractices, irrational investigations, procedures and surgeries, kickbacks for referral have reached an alarming proportion. Medicine is increasingly getting grossly commercialised, becoming a business rather than a noble profession, and for some an avenue for profiteering.” We hope that ADEH succeeds in its noble mission. (06-05-2018)
Vishwamitri River will get its first check dam: To ensure that the area around the Vishwamitri river has access to irrigation facilities, the Gujarat government has approved a proposal to build a check dam on the river in Paldi village near Halol. This will be the first check dam on the river. The check dam will also help in increasing the underground water table. The Vadodara based Community Science Centre (CSC) has for a long time backed this and other ideas to rejuvenate the river. CSC’s Vaho Vishwamitri Abhiyan (VVA) is an initiative to encourage a people’s movement to revive the river. Some experts believe that if just 15 per cent of the annual rainfall were to be stored in the Vishwamitri River, the area can have more water than that stored in the Ajwa Lake. It seems that the river should have seven check dams. It is also recommended that a bio-shield should be created along the banks of the river by planting thousands of trees. (05-05-2018)
Chelation ‘pump lending library’ for thalassemia patients: Thalassemia patients in Vadodara will soon have free access to chelation pumps through The Wishing Factory (TWF), an NGO. TWF will start a chelation pump library in the city, a first for Gujarat. Like a book lending library, it will lend chelation pumps. The pumps are expensive, the chelation process is lengthy and not every patient can afford a pump. The chelation process can be done at home, so a patient can borrow the pump from the library and return it after use so that other patients can use it. Over 70 patients are expected to benefit from the library in the first year. The library will initially have 15 pumps. TWF has similar libraries in Mumbai and Pune which are funded by various companies. TWF works for the welfare of thalassemia major and blood cancer patients. It aims to raise awareness about thalassemia, an inherited and fatal blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin. Most of its beneficiaries are from economically poor backgrounds. (04-05-2018)
Shorts discouraged at this police station: According to a newspaper report, you will not be permitted to enter Vadodara’s JP Road police station if you are wearing shorts. The reason for this restriction: it seems that some men walk into the police station wearing skimpy shorts and often sit indecently on the chairs provided for visitors, and this inappropriateness proves to be embarrassing for the women staff members. The restriction on shorts applies to both male and female visitors. Well, this is one solution, no doubt well intentioned. However, it will be a better idea for the police to be liberal about a visitor’s dress – as long as he or she sits ‘properly’. Up to a point, it’s the manners, not the dresses, which are inappropriate to the occasion. (03-05-2018)
City prepares for a water crisis: Worried about a looming water scarcity the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) recently requested the Gujarat government to release some Narmada water into the Ajwa reservoir. Roughly 30 per cent of Vadodara city is dependent on the Ajwa Reservoir, and its water level is worryingly low (it was 204.8 feet on Tuesday, and depleting at a rate of 0.05 feet daily). The government agreed to help out, and some water has been released into the reservoir via a nearby Narmada branch canal. (02-05-2018)
Medical Council of India approves new college at Palanpur: The town of Palanpur in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district will soon have a 150-seat medical college. The Medical Council of India (MCI) has approved a proposal to this effect from the Gujarat government. MCI also cleared Gujarat’s request for 370 additional seats. The additional seats were sanctioned for the medical colleges at Jamnagar (from 200 to 250), Surat (from 150 to 250) and Vadodara (from 180 to 250). Including Palanpur, Gujarat will now have a total of 24 medical colleges with 4,200 seats. Gujarat has sought permission for another seven new medical colleges and 1,050 additional seats. (02-05-2018)
Gujarat faces water scarcity: Gujarat will conduct a month-long state-wide water conservation campaign starting from the state’s foundation day on 1st May. This exercise – called ‘Sujalam Sufalam Water Conservation Campaign’ – is some sort of an answer to the ongoing water scarcity. As the Gujarat chief minister says, “Water is the foundation of development. If there is no water, development will be automatically stalled. Drought in one year halts development for five years. If water is conserved, the water table will rise. Along with water conservation, this scheme also aims at desalination and focuses on environment too.” The campaign seeks to conserve 11,000 lakh cubic feet of rain water by desilting nearly 13,000 ponds, 200 water reservoirs and 1,500 check dams using 12,000 machines. It is expected to revive 340 km of 32 rivers, clean and repair 4,500 km of the Narmada canal network, implement rain water harvesting in urban areas and carry out afforestation along river banks. The exercise will involve the cooperation of five government departments and it will cost Rs. 345 crore. (01-05-2018)
The summer asserts itself: This summer is proving to be oppressively hot and uncomfortable in Gujarat. As temperatures touched 42 degrees Celsius in several towns and cities, heat-related emergencies kept medical personnel on their toes. SSG Hospital and private clinics handled a spate of sunstroke cases. Afternoons have been almost unbearable. Common sunstroke symptoms associated with these weather conditions include body pain, unquenchable thirst, suffocation, dizziness, breathlessness and palpitations. The maximum temperature in Vadodara was 41.4 degrees Celsius. The general advice is: stay at home in the afternoons to the extent possible. The evenings are relatively cooler. (30-04-2018)
Rules framed for preschool education: The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has suggested some guidelines for nursery education: minimum age for admission should be three years; no evaluation or interaction in the admission process; teachers should be Class XII pass and have a diploma in preschool education; the teacher-children ratio should be 1:25; programme duration must be four hours. The guidelines apply to preschools (aanganwadis, balwadis, nursery schools, preparatory schools, pre-primary schools, Lower/Upper Kindergarten) which cater to children between age three and age six. The NCERT guidelines define an ideal preschool and the expected learning outcomes in the two years prior to formal schooling. Preschools must have the following basic infrastructure: building should be away from traffic, ponds, wells, ditches, uncovered drains and have an outdoor play area, separate toilets for boys and girls and CCTV cameras; classroom size should be 8 x 6 square metres and have a maximum of 25 children. The roles of the principal, teachers and helpers are also specified, as well as the expected learning outcomes. The preschool guidelines will not be compulsory for the states to follow, but they will be encouraged to adopt them. (29-04-2018)
Gujarat’s cotton farmers may follow Amul’s cooperative business model: Whenever you talk of the cooperative business model in India the first and perhaps the best name that comes to mind is Amul, the dairy cooperative. Everyone wants to follow the leader’s example, and the latest to toy with the Amul idea is Gujarat’s textile industry. The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the 100-year-old Maskati Cloth Market Association (MCMA) are trying to apply the Amul model to cotton production and farming for the benefit of the state’s cotton farmers. India is the world’s second largest cotton producer, but the yield per hectare is less than half of the quantity in China, Australia and USA. Replicating the Amul model may help farmers to slash their production costs, improve yields and increase incomes. Farmers will also get access to larger plots of land, new technologies and scientific assistance. Incidentally, the Amul model is also in the process of being implemented by Gujarat’s fruit and vegetable growers. (28-04-2018)
“Zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi”: Anilaben Thaker, a teacher in Sabarkantha district, died due to an illness in 2012. She had a Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) policy, under the Salary Savings Scheme (SSS). She had been paying her insurance premium religiously since 1994, that is, for 18 years. Thanks to some obviously understandable reasons, she was not aware that her insurance premium had not been deducted from her salary for the last two months before she died. Thanks to this small slip-up, her husband came up against LIC’s bureaucratic stone wall when he went to collect the insurance amount of Rs. 2 lakh. So sorry, said the insurance company, the husband cannot collect the insurance amount because the policy had lapsed when two months’ premium had not been paid. It did not matter that the lady had paid for 18 years; her ‘fault’ was that her premium had not been deducted from her salary for two measly months prior to her death. Rather than shell out the Rs. 2 lakh policy value, LIC offered to pay only Rs. 55,900 – the total of the premiums paid over 18 years. The husband approached the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum in Sabarkantha district. The consumer court suggested that LIC could perhaps have taken a more graceful approach to a person who had paid regularly for 18 years but missed out on two monthly payments due to illness. The court reminded LIC about the insurance company’s own proudly proclaimed slogan: “Zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi”. LIC was ordered to pay up the policy amount. (27-04-2018)
Morbi’s tile exports may touch Rs. 12,000 crore: Did you know that Morbi (roughly 65 km from Rajkot) has the largest cluster of ceramic tile makers in India? According to the Morbi Ceramic Association, the area’s 700 manufacturing units are likely to finish the 2017-18 financial year with exports of about Rs. 12,000 crore to 150 countries. The total production is about Rs. 32,000 crore. The export markets are in USA, Canada, Latin American countries, the Middle East and Far East. Tiles are even exported to ceramic manufacturing countries like Spain, Italy, Mexico, Brazil and Turkey. Morbi’s ceramic tiles industry faces stiff competition from China.
Sewage treatment plants can make money: The central government is encouraging civic bodies throughout the country to recycle sewage, treat it and sell the treated sewage to industries in order to generate revenue. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is planning to supply treated sewage water to the Gujarat Refinery of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC); an agreement may soon materialise to this effect. VMC has been examining such sewage reuse projects with the help of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). CII’s role is to identify industries that could buy treated sewage from VMC’s sewage treatment plants (STP). IOC will buy treated sewage from VMC’s Chhani STP; it will use 21 million litres per day of STP water as process water in its refinery. Another possible VMC client could be Gujarat State Electricity Corporation (GSEC). GSEC’s proposed power plant in Shinor taluka can use 110 million litres of treated sewage daily. VMC is also discussing such projects with Vadodara based Reliance Industries Ltd. Power plants have been advised by the central government to procure treated sewage water from urban bodies if they are within 50 km. (26-04-2018)
All urban development construction plans will be passed online: The Gujarat government wants to put in place a system through which all urban development construction plans which need approval should be uploaded online, and approved online, within 48 hours. The objective is to eliminate corruption in the state’s urban development department. This system, which minimises human intervention, is expected to be operational by May 1. It seems that some such system is necessary because of the frequent complaints about corruption by approving officials in urban local bodies like municipal corporations, urban development authorities and municipalities. The construction plans submitted online must now be approved or rejected within 48 hours – or suggestions must be made for changes, also within 48 hours. (25-04-2018)
Disappointment at Sayajibaug zoo: It was only in late 2016 that the Sayajibaug zoo welcomed Chunnu, a male hippopotamus, from Indore’s Kamala Nehru Zoo; shortly thereafter our city zoo received Dimpy, a female hippopotamus, also from Indore. The pair mated, and the excited zoo officials said that a baby was on the way. However, the calf did not survive; it was either still-born or died soon after it was born. According to one expert this is not totally unusual with hippopotamuses in captivity when they deliver for the first time, perhaps because they do not have experience or exposure to parenting. However, the officials are hopeful that the pair, which is still young, will breed again soon. (25-04-2018)
Possible solution for traffic problems caused by stray cattle: Stray cattle often cause a lot of traffic problems and accidents on city roads. To encourage cattle owners to relocate their sheds outside city limits the Gujarat government has announced that it will give land at nominal rates to set up modern cattle farms. Financial assistance will also be provided. The land will be provided 15 to 20 km away from the limits of the eight municipal corporations. The government will provide electricity, water, sheds and assistance of up to Rs. 3 lakh to each cattle farm. Over 5,000 cattle camps are likely to be set up; the outlay this year will be Rs. 140 crore. (24-04-2018)
Decision postponed on introducing Gujarati from class I: Gujarat government’s decision to make the teaching of Gujarati compulsory from class I in all schools has undergone a bit of a change. Schools affiliated to the Gujarat board will implement the decision from June 2018. In CBSE, ICSE and IGCSE schools the move has been postponed. This will give the schools some additional time to appoint new teachers and get the necessary text books ready. It was only in March this year that the government had announced that Gujarati must be introduced from class I at all schools affiliated with all education boards, including CBSE, ICSE and IGCSE as well as in English medium and non-Gujarati medium schools. (24-04-2018)
Gotri Medical College proposes new postgraduate courses in ENT, pulmonary medicine and psychiatry: The Gujarat Medical Education And Research Society Medical College (GMERS) at Gotri in Vadodara plans to offer three new postgraduate (PG) courses. GMERS Medical College is affiliated to the MS University of Baroda. It has formally applied for the new courses to the Medical Council of India (MCI) through the Government of India. The proposed new courses are in the subjects of ENT, pulmonary medicine and psychiatry. MCI is likely to conduct the necessary inspection later this year, following which the new courses can be started in the coming academic year. Three seats are likely to be sanctioned in each of the three subjects. (23-04-2018)
Vadodara’s satellite railway station at Chhayapuri will be ready by December: The Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project will take over one platform of the Vadodara railway station and also compel the railway authorities to shift some traffic away from the station in order to make way for the requirements for the bullet train. The Vadodara railway station handles over 200 passenger trains daily. To ease this load a bit it has been decided that six to seven Ahmedabad bound trains coming from Delhi and Madhya Pradesh should skip the Vadodara station and be diverted to a new satellite station at Chhayapuri. Construction has started on the satellite station and it is expected to be ready by December this year. The new station will cost Rs. 40 crore; financial assistance is being given by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited, the company which is implementing the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project. (22-04-2018)
Baroda Dairy cuts procurement price paid to dairy farmers: The Vadodara District Cooperative Milk Producers Union, better known as Baroda Dairy, pays Rs. 700 per kg of fat as the procurement price to its dairy farmers. It has now cut this rate to Rs. 640. Baroda Dairy deals with 1.25 lakh milk producers of 1,237 village societies in the districts of Vadodara, Chhotaudepur and Narmada. It collects 7 lakh kg per day (LKPD) of milk from the village societies, out of which 5 LKPD is sent for the people in Vadodara city and 2 LKPD is sent to the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation. The cut in the procurement price is perhaps a result of the fall in the global skimmed milk powder rates. (21-04-2018)
Vatsalya Foundation distributes low-cost sanitary napkins: Baroda based Vatsalya Foundation has begun providing low-cost sanitary napkin vending machines at prominent locations in the city. The foundation has made a start with two vending machines at the main bus depot near the Vadodara railway station. The target is 21 locations, including the new district court premises, women’s hostels on the MS University campus, railway platforms, aanganwadis and the Makarpura bus depot. The vending machines do not need electricity to function. Two napkins cost Rs. 5. According to its website, Vatsalya Foundation “manufactures and distributes sanitary napkins at a low cost under the brand name ‘Sakhi’. …. it provides these napkins at a minimal cost so that women can make a switch from cloth rags to sanitary napkins. … For the safe disposal of used napkins it has designed a clay incinerator.” (20-04-2018)
Commercial driving licence will not be needed to drive taxis: The Ministry of Road Transport has announced that you will no longer need a separate commercial licence to drive taxis, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and e-rickshaws; your private licence will be enough. Commercial licences will be needed only to drive trucks, buses and similar heavy vehicles. All states have been advised accordingly. This applies to driving all light motor vehicles, transport, non-transport or commercial; the private driving licence will now be enough for all legal intents and purposes. This new rule may also help to end corruption in obtaining transport licences. It has also been suggested that states should end the practice of issuing badges for commercial vehicle drivers. This move will make it easier to get taxis and autorickshaws and reduce drivers’ dependence on private vehicles. It seems that one taxi can replace at least six private cars, and one autorickshaw can replace about 12 cars. (20-04-2018)
Citizens can afford more vehicles, the city cannot: According to the regional transport office (RTO) the number of vehicles in Vadodara district have gone up from 9,48,091 in 2007 to 20,27,697 in 2017. In this period cars have increased from 94,724 to 2,47,970; taxis from 5,192 to 9,444; jeeps from 5,214 to 17,450; autorickshaws from 34,023 to 87,861; motorbikes from 5,18,244 to 11,33,779; mopeds from 2,18,926 to 3,70,663; light vehicles from 2,435 to 29,300. Every second person in Vadodara city owns one vehicle now. The city finds it difficult to handle the overload of vehicles, the police find it difficult to manage the traffic, the roads are not wide enough, parking is inadequate, and the pollution is oppressive. The municipal bus service can help but it needs a lot of improvement. (19-04-2018)
Hockey association may get a better deal from civic body: The Baroda District Hockey Association (BDHA) had been conducting its various events at the Kalabhavan hockey ground, until one fine day when the ground was sealed by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) because the property taxes had not been paid. BDHA is not wealthy enough to pay the annual tax bill of Rs. 5.41 lakh; over the years the unpaid taxes have piled up to Rs. 31.6 lakh. The Baroda royal family, which owns the ground, paid up the arrears for BDHA, and then locked up the ground. Hockey lovers made representations to the civic body, and it looks as if VMC may have a change of heart and levy a more palatable rate. The current rate is the one applicable for sports facilities like club houses, gymkhanas, sports stadiums, cinema halls, multiplexes, open air theatres, halls and similar facilities. The revised rate may be the one applicable for properties used for charitable purposes. The final decision will need to be approved by the state government. (19-04-2018)
Yellow fever vaccination centre may be set up in city: People travelling abroad sometimes have to compulsorily take a yellow fever vaccination. Gujarat has six yellow fever vaccination centres – at Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Porbandar, Jamnagar and Kandla – but not at Vadodara. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation now plans to have one such centre in the city. It proposes to charge Rs. 500 for the vaccination. The vaccine is provided by the government, and the civic body will issue the certificate. The proposal is awaiting the standing committee’s approval. (19-04-2018)
It’s summer, and the heat is oppressive: The summer heat is oppressive, and it is taking its toll all over Gujarat. Between April 1 and 15 the 108 service of EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute) attended to over 10,000 heat-related emergencies, which means over 665 cases daily. During the same period the emergency service in Vadodara received over 490 calls. As the heat rises the city’s roads become deserted. Many well-meaning citizens have set up road-side counters to freely distribute drinking water and buttermilk. People have been advised to stay indoors to the extent possible. (18-04-2018)
Dengue has to be handled with care: Dengue is not an easy health problem to deal with. It appears that there is no drug to treat it, and the approach so far is to provide symptomatic relief, advise rest and give adequate hydration. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease in the world today; there are about 400 million infections every year. It is now reported that Indian scientists have developed an Ayurvedic drug to tackle dengue. The regional research centre of the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) at Belgaum in Karnataka has done pilot studies to prove the drug’s clinical safety and efficacy. The pilot studies were conducted in Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon, and in medical colleges at Belgaum and Kolar. In the pilot study patients were given the drug in concentrated liquid form; in the clinical trial, the drug is being administered in tablet form. (18-04-2018)
Good news for the city’s young tennis enthusiasts: The Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academies (MBTA) has launched its 16th chapter in India (and the first in Gujarat) at the Navrachana Sports Academy at Sama in Vadodara. There are two courts at the Sama campus where MBTA will offer premium tennis coaching to young tennis enthusiasts. In addition to group coaching, MBTA also offers one-on-one specialized coaching for children and adults. Over 30 students from various city schools and 13 young adults have joined so far. Four senior citizens have also signed up. MBTA will also conduct a special Summer Camp from 7th to 30th May. Arjuna Awardee Gaurav Natekar is the CEO of MBTA , which was founded in 2006 by Mahesh Bhupathi. (18-04-2018)
‘Pocket Cop’ speeds up passport formalities: When you apply for a passport you are called to the police station for verification of your documents. Thanks to a new mobile application it may now be the cops who will come to your house to do whatever is needed. The mobile application has been named ‘Pocket Cop’. It will take your photograph, scan the proof of residence and other documents, feed the coordinates of your house, and send everything to the relevant police department. A pilot run has been made with this system with over 2,000 passport applications in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. Eventually, 4,900 phones equipped with this application will be issued to police personnel throughout Gujarat. Developed by a private company in collaboration with the Gujarat Police State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), ‘Pocket Cop’ is also used to search for accused persons, missing persons and vehicles; it has access to a database of 69 lakh accused persons and over 14 lakh vehicles. (17-04-2018)
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First Previous
Universities asked to submit five-year development plan (19-05-2018)
Centre recognises Banas Medical College (19-05-2018)
The summer continues to oppress (18-05-2018)
Gujarat speeds up work on HIV prevention and care (18-05-2018)
State is overflowing with vehicles (18-05-2018)
Medical care for senior citizens (17-05-2018)
Your electricity company may be liable to pay if its fault damages your appliances (17-05-2018)
Police department starts a campaign to tame the city’s traffic (16-05-2018)
“We are collectively colour blind” (15-05-2018)
Pune's successful Public Bicycle Sharing scheme may have lessons for Vadodara (14-05-2018)
MS University hostel fees may be increased (14-05-2018)
Gujarat’s Online Development Permission System will grant approvals for building plans within 24 hours (13-05-2018)
National Rail & Transport Institute at Vadodara (12-05-2018)
High security registration plates must be fitted on vehicles by July 31 (12-05-2018)
Free medical treatment during the first 48 hours for road accident victims in Gujarat (11-05-2018)
Commercial complex should not collect parking charges (10-05-2018)
Ajwa reservoir level is dropping (09-05-2018)
Builders sometimes misrepresent parking areas in multi-storied buildings (08-05-2018)
The summer heat has the upper hand over Barodians (07-05-2018)
Ajwa reservoir gets a daily 48-million-litre ‘refill’ from Narmada (07-05-2018)
No takers for cycle sharing project (06-05-2018)
Medical community worries about the ethics in ethical healthcare (06-05-2018)
Vishwamitri River will get its first check dam (05-05-2018)
Chelation ‘pump lending library’ for thalassemia patients (04-05-2018)
Shorts discouraged at this police station (03-05-2018)
City prepares for a water crisis (02-05-2018)
Medical Council of India approves new college at Palanpur (02-05-2018)
Gujarat faces water scarcity (01-05-2018)
The summer asserts itself (30-04-2018)
Rules framed for preschool education (29-04-2018)
Gujarat’s cotton farmers may follow Amul’s cooperative business model (28-04-2018)
“Zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi” (27-04-2018)
Morbi’s tile exports may touch Rs. 12,000 crore (27-04-2018)
Sewage treatment plants can make money (26-04-2018)
All urban development construction plans will be passed online (25-04-2018)
Disappointment at Sayajibaug zoo (25-04-2018)
Possible solution for traffic problems caused by stray cattle (24-04-2018)
Decision postponed on introducing Gujarati from class I (24-04-2018)
Gotri Medical College proposes new postgraduate courses in ENT, pulmonary medicine and psychiatry (23-04-2018)
Vadodara’s satellite railway station at Chhayapuri will be ready by December (22-04-2018)
Baroda Dairy cuts procurement price paid to dairy farmers (21-04-2018)
Vatsalya Foundation distributes low-cost sanitary napkins (20-04-2018)
Commercial driving licence will not be needed to drive taxis (20-04-2018)
Citizens can afford more vehicles, the city cannot (19-04-2018)
Hockey association may get a better deal from civic body (19-04-2018)
Yellow fever vaccination centre may be set up in city (19-04-2018)
It’s summer, and the heat is oppressive (18-04-2018)
Dengue has to be handled with care (18-04-2018)
Good news for the city’s young tennis enthusiasts (18-04-2018)
‘Pocket Cop’ speeds up passport formalities (17-04-2018)
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