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Chemists Oppose Centre's Directive: About 22,000 chemists who are members of the Federation of Gujarat State Chemists & Druggists Association will remain closed on May 30. This step is being taken to protest the Centre's requirement of mandatory registration of all allopathic medicine sales on an e-portal. The association claims that its members do not have the IT infrastructure to implement this directive. It also maintains that digital connectivity is not reliable in rural and semi-urban areas. Many chemists say that the online sale of medicine is hazardous because of unscrupulous persons who sell spurious drugs on online platforms. (25-05-2017)
Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project: The National High Speed Rail Corporation says that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is likely to be completed by December 2023. The ground survey has been done and the next step is social impact assessment. The project involves a 21-km underground tunnel (7 km of which will be under the sea). For the rest, the line will be elevated, which reduces the need for land acquisition. The total expected cost: Rs. 1.1 lakh crore. (23-05-2017)
Management Course In Policing: The Raksha Shakti University (RSU) at Ahmedabad wants to start a management course in policing and has approached the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) for support. RSU will start a master's course in security management. Discussions are still at an early stage and the details – the target group, profile of prospective students, course duration, course content, placement prospects – have to be worked out. Set up by the Gujarat government, RSU conducts certificate, diploma and degree courses in the field of police science and internal security. (30-04-2017)
Port of Rotterdam To Assist Gujarat Maritime Board: The Port of Rotterdam will have a strategic tie-up with the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) to provide expertise in setting up port projects and training personnel for the shipping and transport sectors. This will also include the involvement of the proposed International Maritime University. GMB will receive guidance from the Port of Rotterdam in port development along the Gujarat coastline, capacity enhancement, cargo handling, maritime education, etc. Expertise in training skilled professionals will be given by the autonomous Netherlands-based Shipping and Transport College (STC) Group. The formal terms of reference (TOR) for the tie-up have to be worked out. (29-04-2017)
Gujarat Government’s New Health Policy: The Gujarat government has offered several incentives in its latest Health Policy. For the establishment of new self-financed medical colleges it will give assistance of Rs. 15 lakhs per M.B.B.S. seat per year for five years, reimbursement of electricity duty for five years, and assistance to purchase high-end equipment. To start new super-specialty hospitals it will offer capital subsidy of bank loan amount, interest subvention on bank loan and reimbursement of electricity duty for five years. It will also assist in procurement of equipment for diagnostic services centres, basic specialty hospitals and super-specialty hospitals. This scheme is valid till March 31, 2022. For the details: www.gujhealth.gov.in/healthpolicy (20-04-2017)
The Gujarat Police Manual Is In English: Surprisingly, the Gujarat Police Manual (GPM), which was first brought out in 1975 in English, still does not have an authentic Gujarati translation. This obviously makes matters difficult for junior police ranks who may not be very comfortable in English. To set things right, the Raksha Shakti University (RSU) has been given the task of translating the three-volume, 1,000-page manual into Gujarati. The three volumes broadly cover police administration, accounting guidelines and investigation of crimes. (19-04-2017)
Consumption Of Drugs On Campus: In their campaign against banned narcotics the Ahmedabad zone of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has cautioned college authorities in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar that they too will be held accountable if students on campus are found in possession of contraband drugs. It seems that college authorities have not been taking strict action against errant students, and this encourages the students to break laws with impunity. Though it has been three weeks since NCB issued the warning, few colleges have responded very positively. (11-04-2017)
National Security Guard Sets Up Hub Near Gandhinagar: Following the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 the central government had set up four hubs of the counter-terror National Security Guard (NSG) at Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai. A fifth hub has now been established near Gandhinagar in Gujarat. Gujarat has a 512-km border with Pakistan and a coastline which stretches for 1,640 km. This hub is designed to secure the area from Gujarat to Rajasthan. The Gandhinagar base has about 100 counter-terror and counter- hijack commandos. The National Security Guard (NSG) was set up in 1984 as a Federal Contingency Deployment Force to tackle all facets of terrorism in the country. NSG personnel are often referred to in the media as Black Cats because of the black dress and black cat insignia worn on their uniform. (10-04-2017)
Heavy Metal Traces In Ayurvedic Medicines: Following the recent detection of high lead and arsenic levels in some samples of ayurvedic tablets, Gujarat’s Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA) has started collecting more ayurvedic medicine samples for testing. The focus is more on those medicines which contain ‘bhasmas’ and the testing will be done to detect heavy metal content. The tests will be conducted using of atomic absorption spectrometers. Heavy metal traces creep into the medicines only if the Rasa Shastras are not followed scrupulously by ayurvedic pharmacies while preparing the bhasmas. (09-04-2017)
Impact Fee Applications: The state urban development department has extended to March 2018 the period for processing impact fee applications to regularise illegal constructions. The reason for this latest extension seems to be that due processes have not yet been completed in all the municipal corporations in the state. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation will take advantage of the extension period to randomly scrutinise impact fee applications under the Gujarat Regularisation of Unauthorised Development Act, 2011. Similar scrutinies may be done by other municipal corporations too. (09-04-2017)
Few Takers For Gujarat’s Engineering Seats: Do you know that 27,000 out of the 71,000 engineering seats in Gujarat had no takers in 2016? Just about 20 per cent of graduating engineers manage to get jobs! The state has churned out more engineers than it can digest. Of course, it is also true that there is a mismatch between what the engineers are taught and what industry needs, which means that the engineers may often lack the required skills. A word of caution: these figures are only according to campus placements, and do not reflect jobs secured later on and those who are moving on for higher studies. Again, the figures are better for the better colleges, and worse for colleges in remote areas. (30-03-2017)
Rann Utsav, Patang Utsav & Navratri Utsav Festivals: In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the Gujarat government made a lot of effort to attract domestic and foreign tourists to the annual Rann Utsav, Patang Utsav and Navratri Utsav festivals. Over Rs. 42 crore was spent on the exercise, but the attendance was thin: 38,149 domestic tourists and 58 foreign tourists. The spending over the three years was Rs. 10.49 crore, Rs. 11.85 crore and Rs. 20.33 crore. (28-02-2017)
Gujarat Budgets For Assembly Election Exercise: The Gujarat government has earmarked about Rs. 320 crore for the assembly elections which are due this year. This amount is expected to meet the cost of logistics, security arrangements and other poll related activities. A large chunk of the expenditure is on the deployment of staff from different government agencies and the shifting of machinery and electronic voting machines. Roughly 110,000 employees will be deployed for the various election activities. The salary expenditure on permanent Election Commission of India (ECI) staff, the cost of preparing electoral rolls of voters and the cost of voter cards is shared equally by the ECI and the state government. The budgeted amount of Rs. 320 crore does not include the expense of mobilising regular and special police forces; this cost is covered separately by the state home department. (27-02-2017)
Tougher Prohibition Law: The Gujarat government has amended the prohibition law and done away with the leniency provision for first-time offenders which allowed them to render community service and take de-addiction treatment instead of serving a jail sentence. The law provides for a stricter penalty of jail up to six months for the first offence and a minimum sentence of six months which can extend up to two years for second time offenders. For selling, buying, transporting or possessing liquor the offender faces a minimum jail sentence of seven years (maximum 10 years) and a fine of not less than Rs. 5 lakh. At the same time, bhang will no longer be considered an ‘intoxicating drug’ under section 23 of the Gujarat Prohibition Act. It seems that liquor accounts for over 60% of the crimes in Gujarat. (25-02-2017)
Hookah Bars Banned In Gujarat: The Gujarat Assembly has recently approved a bill to ban hookah bars in the state. The new law is an amendment to a central law called the 'Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act-2003' (COTP). The breach of this law can lead to imprisonment of one to three years. It will be considered a cognizable offence and there is a provision for a fine of between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 50,000. (24-02-2017)
Beggar In Mehsana Selected For 'Literacy Hero Award': Khimjibhai Prajapati is a beggar in Mehsana who seeks alms outside temples. His objective, however, is to help underprivileged girls become self-reliant. He uses his ‘income’ to buy school uniforms and books for girls from poor families. Over the years he has spent over Rs. 80,000 towards this cause. He has donated money to primary schools and also a special school for the disabled. Khimjibhai has now been selected by Rotary Club of India for the 'Literacy Hero Award'; he will receive a prize of Rs, 100,000 and a citation. The award ceremony will be in Chennai on March 3. (13-02-2017)
State Government Recruitment Advertisements: The Gujarat High Court has ruled that all state government recruitment advertisements must clearly state that there is a 3 % quota for disabled persons, as required by the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. A PIL had been filed because two recruitment advertisements issued by the Gujarat Subordinate Service Selection Board and Gujarat Panchayat Service Selection Board did not clearly mention this quota. (23-12-2016)
Gujarat’s New Aerospace & Defense Policy: Setting the stage for the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, the state government has announced incentives to attract investments in aerospace and defense sector industries. India is hoping for an investment of US$ 250 billion, and Gujarat wants about 10 to 15% of this pie. Among the incentives in the five-year policy: government land at 50% of Jantri rates; 100% rebate of stamp duty and registration charges levied on land purchased; electricity duty waiver for five years; relief for training of employees. (22-12-2016)
Facelift For District’s Tourist Spots: The Vadodara district administration has drawn up plans to generally spruce up and improve the facilities for tourists at Wadhwana lake, the popular bird-watching spot, as well as Nareshwar and Malsar on the Narmada bank. The Gujarat government has already sanctioned Rs. 10 crore to develop tourist locations in the district. The Wadhwana lake is 50 km from Vadodara, in Dabhoi taluka. Nareshwar is 70 km from Vadodara, and Malsar too is 70 km away. (21-12-2016)
Export Push By Morbi’s Ceramic Industry: At the recent Vibrant Ceramics Expo and Summit 2016 held at Ahmedabad the Morbi Ceramic Association decided to set up warehouses in seven countries. This will make it easier for Morbi’s ceramic tile manufacturers to cater even to small dealers and importers overseas. Morbi is home to India’s largest ceramic cluster. The warehouses will be in USA, Latvia, Oman and Philippines, followed thereafter by Poland, Dubai and Madagascar. (20-12-2016)
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