Baroda Archive News

Higher education institutes are not enthusiastic about job creation

A meeting was organised recently by the Gujarat state education department for education institutes and representatives from companies at the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University (VNSGU) in Surat. The meeting was meant to discuss issues related to employment generation and promotion of start-ups and promote industry-academia collaboration. Entrepreneurs generally criticised the authorities of higher education institutes for not being sufficiently responsive to their offers to employ talented students and for being indifferent towards research and development projects. Some complaints by companies:

  • Nobody contacts us throughout the year even when we are proactively looking for employees.
  • We need skilled people but we never get support from educational institutes.
  • When we approached some educational institutes to get an R&D project done by students, the teachers rejected our request outright.
  • We are concerned about the quality of graduates.
  • There are not enough girls in some core engineering faculties.
One observer said that candidates want jobs near their home, five-day working weeks, good salaries and no stress, and employers want efficient people on meagre salaries. (03-02-2021)

Court asks Centre to trace man in US who dumped his wife in India

An Ahmedabad court had ordered a man to pay Rs. 1.5 lakh per month to his wife since January 16, 1997. This is because the man had abandoned his wife in India and fled to the US a few days after their 1992 wedding. The Gujarat high court has now directed the Centre to trace the man in the USA and recover from him the maintenance money due to his wife in India for the past 24 years. The woman had approached the high court for the recovery of the maintenance money and for contempt of court action against her husband for not obeying court orders to pay her maintenance. Her calculation is that the amount owed – with interest – is over Rs. 7 crore. The court ordered the woman to make the application under the provisions of a treaty between the US and India on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The ministry of home affairs has to fill a form and send it to the US attorney general, who further appoints an authority to trace and deport the person wanted by Indian courts. (02-02-2021)

One of city’s oldest libraries now opens for non-members too

The Mukti Kamal Mohan Jain Gyanbhandar – one of Vadodara’s oldest libraries – will now also be open to non-members once every week, on Sundays. Housed above the Kothipol Jain temple in Raopura, the 92-year-old library was until recently restricted to members only. It has a collection of about 14,000 books in Hindi, Gujarati, Sanskrit, English, Marathi and Prakrit languages. The subjects covered are religion, history, philosophy and animal science. Some of its rare handwritten manuscripts date back several centuries. Those interested can learn more about the collection on the website (02-02-2021)

Mobile subscribers dropped by 3.5 lakh in Gujarat after lockdown

According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data, Gujarat has seen a decrease of 3.5 lakh mobile subscribers after the lockdown – from April to November 2020.

  • Due to the increase in telecom rates many people stopped keeping more than one mobile sim card.
  • A maximum of 11.16 lakh subscribers declined in April.
  • Due to the pandemic many migrant workers left Gujarat for their hometowns, and only a few returned. Many of these workers also stopped their sim cards.
  • Even though the total number of connections have declined, the net additions have grown, with 5.36 lakh added in October 2020 and 2.5 lakh added in November 2020.
  • Bharti Airtel gained 3.92 lakh subscribers, and Reliance Jio gained 62,823 subscribers in November.
  • Vi lost 2.09 lakh subscribers, BSNL lost 273 subscribers and Reliance Communications lost 46 subscribers.

Cinema halls allowed to open at full capacity from 1st February

The Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed cinema halls to operate at full capacity from 1st February. A new set of standard operating procedures has been issued:

  • Show timings for multiple screens will be staggered.
  • No two show timings will have the same commencement time, intermission and finish time.
  • The management must make efforts to avoid overcrowding in the common areas, lobbies and washrooms during intermission.
  • Audiences must be encouraged to avoid movement during the intermission.
  • Longer intermissions must be used to allow people seated in different rows of the auditorium to move in a staggered manner.
  • Booking and verification of tickets, and payments for tickets, food and beverages must be in no-contact mode.
  • Online bookings, use of e-wallets and QR codes will be preferred.
  • The customer's contact number will be taken at the time of booking in order to facilitate contact tracing.
  • Purchase of tickets at box office will be allowed throughout the day and advance booking will be allowed to avoid crowding.
  • Multiple counters will remain open to ensure physical distancing.
  • Floor markers will be added for queue management.
  • Thermal screening of visitors and staff will be carried out at entry points.
  • Only asymptomatic customers will be allowed.
  • Queue markers will be ensured at all entry and exit areas.
  • Exit will be done in a staggered and row-wise manner.
  • Sufficient time interval between successive screenings on a single screen as well as on various screens in a multiplex must be provided to ensure row-wise staggered entry and exit of the audience.
The following general guidelines must also be followed:
  • Physical distancing of at least 6 ft outside the auditoriums, common areas and waiting areas at all times.
  • Use of face masks and covers mandatory at all times.
  • Hand sanitisers must be made available, preferably in touch-free mode, at entry and exit points as well as in common areas.
  • Respiratory etiquette must be followed, including covering one's mouth and nose with tissue, handkerchief or flexed elbow while coughing or sneezing.
  • Self monitoring of health and reporting illness at the earliest.
  • Spitting must be strictly prohibited.
  • Aarogya Setu is advised for installation.

Startup turns plastic waste into a useful product

Mr. Kisan Patel, a 23-year-old first-year student of the masters in entrepreneurship programme at Gujarat Technological University (GTU) owns a small company that has bought a large quantity of plastic waste from the Pirana dumping site of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). His company mixes the plastic waste with coal ash and amalgamates it into deep-grey slabs under pressure and temperature. The process produces interlocking tiles that can withstand pressures of several tonnes. GTU has successfully initiated this effort and backed Mr. Patel’s startup through its incubation centre to develop the tiles. (01-02-2021)

Shortage of qualified fire officers in some cities

Several fire departments in Gujarat are facing the problem of not having people with the right qualifications for the job of a chief fire officer (CFO). The qualifications for the post are that the candidate must have a diploma or degree in fire engineering and 15 years’ experience as a deputy CFO. In Bhavnagar, for instance, a senior veterinary officer of the civic body has held the additional charge of the chief fire officer since October last year. The Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation has not had a qualified full-time CFO since 2006; the charge had in the past been given to the garden department, the audit department and the engineering department. There is in fact no provision for direct recruitment of CFOs, the post is promotion based and there are no qualified candidates who can be promoted. Consider this: Bhavnagar city has a population of about 6 lakh and requires 180 firemen, but it has only 35! (01-02-2021)

Night curfew in 4 cities relaxed by an hour from 1st February

According to a notification issued by the Gujarat home department, the night curfew in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, and Rajkot will continue until February 15, but the revised timings will be from 11 pm to 6 am instead of 10 pm to 6 am. All the other central guidelines issued on January 27 will be in force in the state from February 1 to February 28. People must cover their faces, wash their hands repeatedly and practice social distancing in public. Daily activities will resume in all areas except the ones in containment zones. SOPs for carrying out specific kinds of events or activities should be followed strictly. (31-01-2021)

Schools to reopen in Gujarat for Classes 9 and 11 from 1st February

Arrangements are being made to reopen schools in Gujarat for Classes 9 and 11 from February 1. Consent from the parents of the students has to be taken by the schools. On January 11 the schools were opened for Classes 10 and 12. Schools had been shut in the state for the last 10 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (31-01-2021)

Upper primary classes with less than 20 students merged with nearby schools

The upper primary classes of nearly 1,470 government primary schools where less than 20 students had enrolled have been merged with their counterpart classes in nearby schools. The Gujarat state education department has made this move and initiated steps to accommodate the 1,800 teachers who have been rendered surplus in the process. Both Class 6 and Class 7 were merged in 1,280 schools, while in 190 schools, only Class 5 was merged with nearby schools. No surplus teacher will be transferred outside the district. The district with the highest number of schools with merged classes is Kutch with 180 schools. In 2013, out of nearly 33,000 primary schools, 13,450 primary schools with a strength of 100 and below and 6,826 primary schools with a strength 50 and below were identified and it was then planned to eventually merge these schools with the nearest schools. (30-01-2021)

Erring Ahmedabad hospitals get four weeks to obtain fire NOCs

A Gujarat High Court division bench has granted ‘one last opportunity’ to 151 hospitals under the jurisdiction of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to obtain a valid no-objection certificate (NOC) in the next four weeks. These hospitals had not yet complied with the high court order, in December 2020, instructing the establishments to prioritise fire safety. The bench directed AMC to issue notice to non-compliant hospitals in its jurisdiction to obtain fire NoC, and to take action, including prohibiting the hospital from admitting new patients, in case of subsequent non-compliance. AMC was asked to become strict on defaulters. (30-01-2021)

Skill development university proposed near Ahmedabad

The Gujarat government may allot prime land near Ahmedabad to private players to set up a national university for the development of skills for the service sector.

  • The objective is to train young persons in new and emerging trends in the service sector.
  • Private universities will be invited to take up the project.
  • It is expected that private players will invest about Rs. 250 crore for the project.
  • The proposed university should offer diploma and degree courses to around 5,000 students every year.
  • About 60 types of courses – BPO and KPO handling, ITO technology, etc.  – are being considered to meet the needs of emerging industries.
  • The government’s industrial training institutes (ITIs) will be linked to the proposed university.
  • A new bill will be moved to constitute the university.
  • The state government may give some support to the proposed private university. The central government’s financial and technical support is also possible.

Ramsar site status likely for Wadhwana Lake in Dabhoi taluka

The Divisional Forest Office (Wildlife) in Vadodara is hopeful that the Ramsar site status will soon be given to the Wadhwana Lake in Dabhoi taluka, about 40 km from Vadodara. The lake is one of the biggest wetlands in Gujarat and it is home to thousands of local as well as migratory birds. This is the second time that the forest officials are applying for the Ramsar site recognition. Detailed documentation has been done and a report has been prepared with the help of the Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation. The lake meets most of the criteria. Gujarat has only one Ramsar site at present, the Nal Sarovar located 64 km from Ahmedabad and known for its flamingos. Ramsar site recognition comes with financial aid for maintaining the lake and technical guidance as well. The recognition invariably draws more tourists. Over 62,000 birds of 133 species visited the wetland this winter. (29-01-2021)

Over 160 Ahmedabad hospitals still do not have a fire NOC

In spite of so many fires and a court warning there are still over 160 hospitals in Ahmedabad that have not obtained the fire NOC to certify that they are complying with the relevant safety rules. This is even after the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation issued a public notice on December 21, granting 15 days for all hospitals to get their fire prevention systems inspected by the authorities. On August 6, 2020, the day on which there was a major fire in an Ahmedabad hospital, only 91 of the 2,022 registered hospitals and nursing homes within AMC limits had valid fire NOCs. (29-01-2021)

Transport ministry proposes a green tax on vehicles over 8 years old

The Road Transport and Highways ministry has approved a proposal to levy a ‘Green Tax’ on old vehicles which are polluting the environment. The proposal will go to the states for consultation before it is formally notified. According to the statement:

  • Green tax may be imposed on transport vehicles older than eight years at the time of renewal of the fitness certificate, at the rate of 10-25 per cent of the road tax.
  • Personal vehicles may also be charged the same levy at the time of renewal of registration certification after 15 years.
  • Public transport vehicles, such as city buses, may  be charged a lower green tax.
  • For vehicles being registered in highly polluted cities, a higher green tax (50 per cent of road tax) and a differential tax, depending on the fuel (petrol/diesel) variant and type of vehicle, may be charged.
  • Hybrids, electric vehicles, and alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas, will be exempted.
  • Farm vehicles, such as tractors, harvesters, and tillers, will be exempted.
  • The revenue collected from the green tax will be in a separate account and used for tackling pollution, and for states to set up facilities for emission monitoring.
  • There may be deregistration and scrapping of vehicles owned by government departments and public sector undertakings above 15 years old. This may come into effect from April 1, 2022.
  • Commercial vehicles, which constitute 5 percent of the total vehicle fleet, contribute 65-70 per cent of total vehicular pollution.
  • The older fleet, typically manufactured before 2000, constitutes less than 1 per cent of the total fleet, but contributes to 15 per cent of total vehicular pollution. These older vehicles pollute 10 to 25 times more than newer vehicles.

All government gazettes and notifications should be published online

An advocate has filed a PIL in the Gujarat high court demanding that all government notifications should be available to the public online. The court has issued notice to the state government asking it to file an affidavit about this matter. The central government and 22 state governments do this regularly and post notifications on their websites for public consumption. Gujarat has not been  regular in this practice. The government pleader said that the process of e-publication of all government notifications is under way and the issue will be addressed soon. (28-01-2021)

Prisoners Employment Exchange offers jobs to released convicts

Gujarat has a Prisoners Employment Exchange (PEE) which enables prisoners to seek jobs after they are released. The PEE gives the names of the persons seeking employment, along with their skills, qualifications and other relevant details. The platform currently lists 260 persons who have been released from the state’s 29 jails. There are about 15,000 prisoners in the state’s jails, and 9,500 of them are undertrials. The PEE is only for persons imprisoned for two years and less. Those given life imprisonment are not included. Under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes, eight companies have already shown interest. The authorities are planning to hold an annual campus interview of convicts. (28-01-2021)

New Covid guidelines announced by the Centre

The new Covid guidelines, effective from February 1 to February 28, have been announced by the Centre:

  • Cinema halls and theatres can operate with more than 50 per cent of their capacity. A revised SOP will be issued for the same.
  • Swimming pools will be allowed to open.
  • Business to Business (B2B) exhibition halls are already permitted. Now all types of exhibition halls will be permitted.
  • Regarding the allowing of religious and political gatherings, the Centre has left the decision to the states concerned.

Offline studies for Classes 9 and 11 in schools to resume from February 1

The Gujarat state education minister announced that the Education Department had prepared a Standard Operating Protocol to resume offline studies for Classes 10 and 12, and the same SOP will be implemented for Classes 9 and 11 from February 1. The government will also permit resumption of offline tuition classes across the state, subject to SOP and Covid guidelines. Attendance in schools will not be mandatory. Schools and colleges will have to get written consents from parents. The teaching staff and students will undergo checks for body temperature through thermal guns. Simultaneous continuation of online teaching will be retained. (27-01-2021)

Surat company launches cycle-to-work scheme for employees

Dharmanandan Diamond Pvt Ltd – a Surat based diamond export firm – has launched an initiative to promote cycling among its employees. Employees who cycle to work for the two months of January and February will be rewarded in cash or kind by the company. The company employs over 1,000 diamond workers, and 100 employees have already opted for the scheme. The scheme will be extended after observing the response of workers. Many employees have even gone ahead and bought new bicycles. (27-01-2021)

State education department plans to keep schools running

The Gujarat state education department plans to keep schools running, online or offline, depending on the Covid-19 situation. The usual 35-day summer vacation is unlikely at the end of the academic year 2020-21. It may be only for a week. The decision will be binding on all schools, but it will be taken only after consulting all stakeholders. This decision will hopefully ensure a normal 2021-22 academic year. It is important that the 2021-22 academic session begins on time. (26-01-2021)

GST applies to maintenance deposits collected by builders

Goods and services tax (GST) will apply to one-time maintenance deposits collected by builders from buyers, because it is non-returnable in nature and is for the supply of services. This was a recent ruling of the Gujarat bench of the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR). The amount will be subject to GST at the time of the actual supply of the service, that is, when maintenance services or repairs of common areas and facilities are carried out by the use of these deposits. Deposits collected from buyers are usually put into a common maintenance deposit fund. Most builders collect and pay GST at 18% upfront at the time of receipt of maintenance deposit. In case no GST has been collected by builders from flat owners, then when the CHS utilises the maintenance deposits for repairs or maintenance, it would need to raise a tax invoice. (26-01-2021)

Vadodara police announce citizen friendly mobile app

The Vadodara police department is now offering a mobile app – ‘Citizen First’ – to eliminate time-consuming trips to police stations and instead get several services online.

  • Applicants can check the status of their passport applications online. They need not visit the police station for the verification process. The police will verify their documents and send them to the passport office by checking crime records, if any, of the applicants online.
  • The police, too, will be able to carry out the procedures smoothly.
  • Citizens can now give any application online: missing person, stolen vehicle, etc.
  • To give proof of vehicle theft for insurance claims, citizens can submit their online application number as proof to the insurance company.
  • Registration of the details of tenants, drivers and maids can also be done online. Police have been instructed to not call applicants to the police station for such registrations.
  • NOCs can be obtained online.
  • Details of senior citizens can be done online.
  • Barodians can download the app from the play store.

Railways change site of proposed office near Pratap Vilas Palace

Finally responding to criticism from several sections of society, the Railway authorities have decided against constructing a multi-storeyed office (for the National Rail and Transportation Institute – NRTI) opposite the Pratap Vilas Palace. The project site will be shifted to a different location on the same grounds. However, the Heritage Trust says that even the new site is not environmentally suitable. The premises of the 106-year-old Pratap Vilas Palace are spread over 55 acres. (25-01-2021)

Schedule announced for local body elections in Gujarat

The Gujarat state election commission has announced the schedule for elections to six municipal corporations (Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara), 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats. Voting for municipalities, district panchayats and taluka panchayats will be held after the election results of the six municipal corporations are declared.

  • Voting for municipal corporation elections will be held on February 21 and counting will be taken up on February 23.
  • Voting for all the other local bodies will be held on February 28 and counting will be taken up on March 2.
  • Voting hours will be between 7 am and 6 pm.
  • The last date to file nominations for the municipal corporation elections will be February 6, while it will be February 13 for the other polls,
  • EVMs will be used for the polls; the VVPAT mechanism will not be deployed.
  • 47,695 booths will be set up for the polls, of which over 6,000 have been marked sensitive.
  • 4.2 crore voters are eligible to vote for 574 corporators in six corporations, 2,720 representatives in 81 municipalities, and 9,049 representatives in district and taluka panchayats.
  • Now that the elections have been announced, the model code of conduct has come into force.

Multimodal logistics park to come up near Sanand

An MoU has been signed between the Gujarat government and Adani Ports and SEZ Ltd to establish India’s biggest multimodal logistics park at Virochannagar, near the automobile hub at Sanand in Ahmedabad district. Spread over 1,450 acres, the park is expected to attract investments of Rs. 50,000 crore. It will provide direct and indirect employment to over 25,000 people. The park will be directly connected with the dedicated freight corridor and all major ports. The entire project is likely to be completed by 2023. (24-01-2021)

State police will be equipped with body cameras

The Gujarat police have decided that the constabulary and traffic cops deployed on roads will be equipped with body cameras. The body-worn cameras will help to evaluate and assign responsibility or blame when there is friction between cops and citizens. The government has sanctioned the necessary budget and the cameras should be in use by the end of this year. The cameras are meant to be fixed to the uniforms of cops. The programme will be implemented in phases. It is expected that about 80,000 constables will be equipped with body cameras. Sub-inspectors and inspectors of the traffic department will be covered in the initial phase. The body cameras will be connected to a control room to monitor the conduct of policemen with the public. The live feed will be streamed to the control room. This technology will also protect police personnel from false allegations. (23-01-2021)

Space offered for salons at some Western Railway stations

Western Railway has decided to allocate space for unisex salons at railway stations in Mumbai. The objective is to increase non-fare box revenue. The sources of non-fare box revenue usually are mobile assets, out of home advertising, rail display network and content on demand. Space for salons has been earmarked at Mumbai central, Andheri, Goregaon, Kandivali and Borivali in Mumbai and Surat in Gujarat. A good response may be possible for salons as commuter footfalls are high in Mumbai. The salon operator will be offered about 250 square feet of area. The salon timings will be from 6 am to 10 pm. Incidentally, the non-fare revenue on the Mumbai suburban system may be less than 10%. As against this, the figure for Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway is 41% and for Singapore Mass Rapid Transit it is 25%. (23-01-2021)

Modhera Sun Temple will be featured in Gujarat’s tableau at Republic Day parade

A replica of the Modhera Sun Temple will be the main feature of Gujarat’s tableau at this year’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi. Built by a team of 60 artists, the presentation has been conceived and put together by the Information Department of the state government. Sculptors have built a replica of the Sun Temple from fiber casting. Dholpur stone textured colors have been used to create a stone-like replica. The tableau is illuminated by floodlights. Also 12 women artists will be presenting the ‘Tippani Dance’ in traditional attire. (23-01-2021)

First major cycling track getting ready in Vadodara

The Vadodara Municipal Corporation and BYCS may join hands to develop a cycling track in the city. BYCS promotes biking in urban areas across the country. The 5.5-km cycling track will start from the Akota-Dandia Bazaar overbridge and go around the Jail Road. Work on making the track has started and the traffic police are also helping out. The Vadodara Smart City Development Ltd (VSCDL) is executing the cycling track project with the backing of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. (22-01-2021)

Gujarat Police have more horses than any other state

Did you know that the Gujarat Police have more horses than any other state in India? Its mounted units are now buying another 130 horses, taking the total to 595. These horses will be used for patrolling in rural areas and the outskirts of cities. The mounted police recently recruited 220 personnel.

  • 56 horses have already been bought from breeders and livestock fairs.
  • The new horses are of the Marwadi and Kathiawadi breeds. Other breeds with the department are Spiti, thoroughbreds and Arabians.
  • Each district is allotted mounted police according to its needs and size. An officer is stationed at each district as a supervisor to look after the maintenance, training and deployment of the horses.
  • Ahmedabad and Rajkot are the main centres where horses are trained.
  • Mounted police are deployed in narrow lanes and in areas vehicles cannot be used.
  • Mounted police are also used for VVIP security, crowd control and guarding of farms.
  • In some areas farmers pay the mounted police to provide security for their farms.
  • The mounted police are also used to guard canals against water theft.
  • Since canals and river beds are often entry points for criminals to enter rural areas, the mounted police units are used to patrol such areas.
  • The horses are also trained to participate in equestrian sports.
  • Horse riding training centres at Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot also train enthusiasts and give them certificates.

Chirayu Amin gets FGI lifetime achievement award

The Federation of Gujarat Industries (FGI) has given a lifetime achievement award to Mr. Chirayu Amin, Chairman and managing director of Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd., at its 16th Awards for Excellence presentation ceremony recently. The awards were in 14 categories. Ami Organics from Surat received the award in research in science and technology, Bharat Parenterals for outstanding MSME, Chandrakant Patel, MD of ICE Make Refrigeration Ltd, Gandhinagar, for outstanding business leader, Raymond Ltd for the green business award. (22-01-2021)

Applicants for post of constable rejected due to tattoos

A recent legal case may be of some interest for young people wanting to join the central armed forces. The case involves three candidates for the post of constable in the central forces. They had tattoos on their arms and were declared medically unfit for this reason. They then removed the tattoos (using laser treatment), and were certified unfit again for the removal of the tattoos (the treatment had left scars on their arms). They therefore approached the Gujarat high court, which asked for an explanation from the central government and also directed the authorities to keep three posts vacant for the time being. The petitioners had applied for the post of constable in central forces such as the Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, National Investigation Agency, Assam Rifles, etc. Their lawyer argued that jawans are supposed to salute with their right hand, they wear full-sleeved shirts, the tattoos would be invisible, and do not affect the efficiency of constables. Also, the petitioners were tattooed at an early age because in many communities tattoos are a part of age-old tradition. (21-01-2021)

Atal Tinkering Labs planned in some Mumbai municipal schools

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to establish Atal Tinkering Labs in 25 municipal schools to promote innovation, scientific temperament and creativity among students. The sanctioned budget is Rs. 3.48 crore. The agency which will set up the labs will also handle the maintenance of electronic and mechanical equipment for five years. The labs will be operational in eight months. The Centre had launched the Atal Tinkering Lab projects across the country in 2017. (21-01-2021)

High court orders authorities to fully assist 13-year-old rape survivor

The Gujarat high court has not allowed a 13-year-old rape survivor to abort a 27-week fetus, because of the risks involved in the termination of pregnancy. The law prohibits abortions beyond 20 weeks and the MTP amendment bill also recommends abortions only up to 24 weeks. SSG Hospital examined the victim and reported that the abortion would not be advisable at such an advanced stage. The court issued several directives:

  • The health and family welfare department must immediately provide financial assistance of Rs. 1 lakh to the girl’s family for her nutrition and medical treatment.
  • The government must take care of all her needs, as the rape survivor has low intelligence levels.
  • The authorities must allow the teen to stay at the One Stop Centre in Rajpipla town for proper care.
  • She should be shifted to SSG Hospital in Vadodara 10 days before the due delivery date. A special room must be reserved for her and her family.
  • All possible medical care must be provided free of cost.
  • The authorities must arrange for adoption and coordinate with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) for adoption of the child if the girl and her parents are unwilling to keep the child after delivery.

Gujarat wants Tesla to make electric cars in the state

Electric car manufacturer Tesla is setting up its research and development centre in Bengaluru and the company is considering several states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka – for starting its India operations. Its registered office is in Bengaluru. The Gujarat government has offered the necessary assistance and incentives to attract the company to the state. The state is the venue for the manufacturing plants of several major global automobile companies. Gujarat is an automobile hub with crucial MSME players supporting the large companies. Gujarat’s strong points are: it is a hub for renewable energy; the cost of power will be competitive in the state; it has strategic advantages like ports and proximity to all major markets of India. Tesla may begin in India with its Model 3, to be followed later by the Model S and the Model X in 2022. (20-01-2021)

Dragon fruit grown in Gujarat will be named ‘Kamalam’

The Gujarat government has initiated the process of patenting the dragon fruit grown in Gujarat with the name ‘kamalam’. It is said that farmers in Gujarat refer to this fruit by this name and that the shape and appearance of the fruit has a resemblance to the lotus. The Gujarat forest department has sent a proposal to the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) for a change in nomenclature of the dragon fruit to kamalam. The fruit is grown in Kutch, Narmada and some parts of Saurashtra. Under the latest horticulture development policy the state will also promote dragon fruit cultivation. The fruit is known for its medicinal properties. (20-01-2021)

Gujarat government announces Horticulture Development Mission

The Gujarat government has announced a special initiative to accelerate agriculture and horticulture and promote the farming of herbal plants. The objective is also to create employment opportunities by increasing the exports of such products. The proposed horticulture development mission is based on the fact that there is substantial scope for horticulture development and the farming of medicinal crops in fallow and infertile lands. The initiative – it is called the ‘Mukhyamantri Bagayat Vikas Mission’ – aims to double the income of farmers and generate employment through horticulture in infertile and fallow lands owned by the government. The first phase will include five districts – Kutch, Surendrangar, Patan, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha. (19-01-2021)

Passenger vehicle sales dropped by 50% in Gujarat

The sale of passenger vehicles dipped by about 50% in 2020 compared to 2019 – down from 17,800 in 2019 to 8,600 in 2020. The sale of autorickshaws fell from 76,600 in 2019 to 28,600 in 2020, a slump of 63%. The curb on movement of passenger vehicles during the pandemic was partly to blame. The demand for two-wheelers decreased by 36% in 2020, down to 6.83 lakh two-wheelers against 10.74 lakh in 2019. Two lakh cars were registered in 2020 against 2.4 lakh in 2019. Lack of easy finance was also one of the reasons. (19-01-2021)

Vadodara cops launch SHE teams to help women

The Vadodara city police has launched SHE teams – groups of police personnel who are specially trained to deal with complaints from women and senior citizens. When women face harassment or other problems, the SHE team can quickly and sensitively respond to the situation. Swift police action can deter the perpetrators and make them fear the law. The cops say that 90 percent of the crimes that are directed at women are committed by some person known to them. Women are often reluctant to file complaints, and the SHE teams will counsel them and help them to register complaints. Each of the 22 police stations has one SHE team; the Mahila police station has two additional teams. Since women feel more at ease in the presence of female personnel, the SHE teams have more women cops. Only Ahmedabad has such teams. (18-01-2021)

Mask is compulsory even if a four-wheeler driver is alone in the vehicle

The police will now fine car drivers caught without masks even if they are alone in their vehicles. This corrects the earlier report which erroneously said that people alone in their cars are exempted from wearing masks. The decision to impose mask fines even on those alone in their vehicles was taken by the home department on January 1. A letter to this effect has been circulated to all police commissionerates and SP offices across Gujarat. (18-01-2021)

One-time annual fee likely for national permit of tourist vehicles

The road transport ministry may announce the All India Tourist Vehicles Authorisation and Permit Rules to allow tourist passenger vehicles to pay a one-time annual fee for seamless travel across the country on the lines of the national permit fee paid by trucks. The fare may also reduce because of the uniform permit fee. This will provide more options to people for comfortable travel, instead of using their private vehicles for inter-city journeys. The current tax system is different from state to state. The proposed permit fee may reduce by over 50% of what operators currently pay to state governments. There will now be a uniform authorisation fee which will be charged for all states based on the passenger capacity of the vehicle. The annual permit fee for an AC bus carrying more than 23 passengers may be around Rs. 3 lakh and Rs. 75,000 for an AC mini bus with 10 to 23 passengers. (18-01-2021)

Mask not compulsory if you are alone in your car in Ahmedabad

If you are alone in your car while driving and your windows are rolled up, you need not wear a mask. This is according to a notification issued by the police in Ahmedabad. Masks are compulsory if there are two or more people in a car, and at public places and workplaces. Auto drivers, taxi or cab drivers as well as their passengers will have to wear masks. However, it is not clear whether this notification applies only in Ahmedabad, or in other parts of Gujarat too. (17-01-2021)

Cardiac emergency calls to 108 helpline reduced during pandemic

The 108 emergency helpline saw a drop of 30% in calls for cardiac and other related medical contingencies in 2020 compared to 2019.

  • EMRI 108 data revealed that cardiac emergencies recorded a fall from 63,916 to 44,797, down from seven calls per hour to five.
  • Experts suggested that the fear of hospitalisation during the pandemic may have been a factor.
  • Globally too there was a drop of 50 % during the initial months of the pandemic.
  • In many cases, patients delayed coming to hospital.
  • There was a rise in ‘brought dead’ patients during the peak of the pandemic.
  • Lifestyle changes during the pandemic may also have played a minor part.

Lower courts in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot to open again

The Gujarat high court has now permitted the lower courts in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot to open their courtrooms and resume their functions physically from January 18. This is happening almost 10 months after the pandemic forced the courts to shut in March 2020. After March 23, court proceedings took place online. Trials were delayed and only urgent hearings took place. On November 4, the high court had permitted all lower courts across the state to open courtrooms, except in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot. (16-01-2021)

Some findings from a survey on the health of the elderly

Here are some interesting figures from a nationwide survey on the health of the elderly (Longitudinal Ageing Study in India, Wave I, 2017-18).

  • Physical activity among older women is the highest in Himachal Pradesh. Around 87 per cent women aged 45 and above are physically active, which means they are engaged in moderate or vigorous physical activity for a given amount of time each week.
  • Other states or UTs with a high proportion of physically active older women include Dadra and Nagar Haveli (86 per cent), Karnataka (84 per cent) and Puducherry (81 per cent).
  • The national average is about 69 per cent.
  • Among adults aged 45 and above, women are comparatively more physically active than men.
  • Around 60 per cent older men in India were found to be physically active, this ratio being the highest in Assam (79 per cent), followed by Himachal (77 per cent), and Nagaland (76 per cent).
The study covered over 72,000 individuals and their spouses across the country. The survey used WHO recommendations for classifying people as physically active or inactive, which means that an individual engaged in moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week or vigorous physical activity for at least 75 minutes per week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity was termed physically active.
  • Moderate physical activities include cleaning house, washing clothes, fetching water, drawing water from a well, gardening, walking at a moderate pace, bicycling at a regular pace, and floor or stretching exercises.
  • Vigorous activity includes running or jogging, swimming, going to a health centre or gym, cycling, digging with a spade or shovel, heavy lifting, chopping, farm work, fast bicycling, and cycling with loads.
Physical activity is essential to optimum health and well-being. Regular physical activity is beneficial in many ways because it reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases such as ischaemic heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and depression. It also prevents overweight and obesity and can improve mental health and musculoskeletal problems (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis), and help to achieve healthy ageing. (16-01-2021)

Night curfew will continue in Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Rajkot

The night curfew will continue  as a precautionary the four major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot at least for the next 15 days.  The Gujarat chief minister has urged people to be patient and cooperate with the authorities for some more days. He said that a decision about lifting the curfew will be taken at an appropriate juncture. The state government had imposed the night curfew in November, 2020. The curfew is from 10 pm to  6 am. (15-01-2021)

No increase in retail electricity tariffs in Gujarat

Retail electricity tariffs will not be increased for the financial year 2021-22 by power distribution companies affiliated with the state-run Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL). Private sector Torrent Power Limited (TPL) proposes not to change retail tariffs, but it has instead sought to levy regulatory charge for some time to cover its past under-recoveries. The four discoms affiliated with GUVNL and TPL have filed petitions with the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) for determination of power tariffs for the next financial year. The four state-owned discoms – Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Ltd, Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd, Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. and Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. – have filed petitions with the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) for determination of power tariffs for the next financial year. (15-01-2021)

Surat airport will become ‘silent’, like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai

The Surat international airport will become a ‘silent airport’. It will no longer have boarding announcements. Airports at Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are silent airports where there are no announcements for boarding. All airlines will notify any change in timings and baggage delivery belts through SMS. In case of changes in boarding gates, the announcement will be made. The announcements will be restricted to delays, cancellations, gate change, loss of important documents, last passenger paging or security awareness. (15-01-2021)

Railway line from Vadodara to Kevadiya may be operational by January 17

A Railway Board official has announced that the rail line connecting Vadodara to the Statue of Unity (SoU) at Kevadiya will be operational by January 17. The line as well as the Kevadiya railway station are likely to be virtually inaugurated on that day by Prime Minister Modi. On the same day, eight trains to Kevadiya will also be flagged off from different stations – from Hazrat Nizamuddin, Chennai, Dadar (Mumbai), Varanasi, Rewa, Pratapnagar (Vadodara), Ahmedabad and Kevadiya to Pratapnagar (Vadodara). Except for the Jan Shatabdi Express, a new train linking Ahmedabad to Kevadiya, a majority of the trains are being extended to Kevadiya. (14-01-2021)

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