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'Operation Garbas' about to be launched: The organisers of the larger garba events in the city have received fairly elaborate advice and instructions regarding the security precautions to be taken at their venues. The guidelines are: cover the venue with a CCTV camera network; cameras at entry and exit points and parking areas such that every person’s face can be clearly recognised; CCTV camera footage must be submitted to local police stations daily; there must be an enclosure at all entry points for frisking of female garba participants; fire engines must be on standby mode; inflammable materials must be placed far from sitting areas; participants must be properly briefed about emergency exit routes; parking areas must be properly illuminated; approach roads to venues must be wide and properly illuminated; venue layouts must be shared with local police stations. (15-09-2019)
Gujarat government may soon ban single-use plastics: It is likely that the Gujarat government may ban single-use plastics from October 2, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Plans are also being made for proper plastic collection and segregation and regulation of plastic production and use. Gujarat is the largest manufacturer of single-use plastics in the country and the government has started discussions about stopping their production. Plastics collected by civic bodies may be segregated and used for road construction or as fuel in cement factories. Of course, the state has a long way to go on this front. Right now everything is mostly at the discussion stage. (15-09-2019)
Vadodara Municipal Corporation auctions 24 plots: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) organised the second auction of its plots in the city on September 13. VMC was able to sell five of the 24 plots being auctioned; the amount raised was Rs. 49.67 crore. The auction list initially included 26 plots but two plots were ruled out – one due to issues of connectivity and the other because the civic body wanted to keep it for its own use. There were nine bidders in all. Two plots were sold in Manjalpur, two in Gotri and one in Tandalja. All the plots are for commercial use. The highest bidding was for the 703 sq m Gotri plot that was sold at Rs. 77,300 per sq m against the upset value of Rs 64,000 per sq m. The earlier auction had generated an amount of Rs. 51.34 crore for VMC. (14-09-2019)
ATMs are not always the best option: According to NITI Aayog’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index 2018, Gujarat has the 21st rank in India with only 17 ATMs per one lakh population. The national target is 51 ATMs per lakh population. The only state with more than the national target is Goa with 65 ATMs per lakh population. Among the states ahead of India are Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Lakshadweep, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand. Gujarat has seen a drop from 11,576 ATMs in 2015 to 11,509 ATMs in 2019, according to data from SLBC (State Level Bankers’ Committee). An ATM should be used at least 100-150 times a day to be viable. Now there are more convenient ways of making cash available to people, so ATMs are not always the best option. Digital banking, alternative money transfer options and the move towards a cash-less economy have also played a part. (14-09-2019)
Rajkot made e-rickshaw approved by UK: Rajkot based Atul Auto Ltd. has received approval from the United Kingdom government to market its lithium-ion operated e-rickshaw. In the 1970s when transportation was a crucial problem, especially in rural areas Atul became a pioneer by inventing the ‘Chhakda’ – the iconic three-wheeler diesel vehicle that became a way of life for the people of Saurashtra. Once Atul is ready with its new e-rickshaw in about nine months it will be sold in India too. Atul exports its low-cost three-wheelers to Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Egypt, Mexico and Bangladesh. The company is also trying to transform its CNG auto into an electric auto. The running cost of an e-auto is less than a CNG three-wheeler. The vehicle is likely to be manufactured in the company’s Rajkot and Ahmedabad plants. (13-09-2019)
Cleanliness lessons from Indore for Gujarat’s civic bodies: The Gujarat government will send teams from various municipal corporations and other civic bodies to understand and draw some lessons from the sanitation procedures followed by Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh) – the two cities that topped the all-India cleanliness survey. Indore topped the Swachhata Sarvekshan 2019 as the cleanest city in the country. Ambikapur – population 1.96 lakh – stood second and Mysuru in Karnataka stood third. The survey was conducted by the ministry of housing and urban affairs. The ranking was on the basis of sanitation levels. Gujarat wants to improve the sanitary conditions in all the urban local bodies – eight municipal corporations and about 160 municipalities. Senior officials from the eight municipal corporations and the six municipality commissioners will visit Indore and Ambikapur for a week to study their waste management and sanitation programmes. (13-09-2019)
Compulsory Service Bonds withdrawn for two superspeciality courses: The mandatory Rs. 50 lakh Compulsory Service Bonds for admission in two postgraduate medical superspeciality courses – paediatric surgery and cardiothoracic vascular surgery – in state government medical colleges has been withdrawn from the 2019-20 academic session. There have been no takers for the courses after the condition was introduced in 2014. The seats in superspeciality paediatric and cardiothoracic vascular surgery courses are lying vacant for the last few years. If students do not take these superspeciality courses, patients cannot be offered medical services. The state government’s decision has been communicated to the Medical Council Committee (MCC) for candidates appearing for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) superspeciality counselling session. (12-09-2019)
City police fully prepared to maintain order during Ganesha immersion celebrations: The Ganesha immersion processions in Vadodara are a big event, and the city police have made elaborate plans to ensure that there are no untoward incidents. Over 8,000 security personnel will be deployed along the various immersion procession routes. The manpower to be used: 11 DCPs, 20 ACPs, 80 police inspectors, 250 police sub-inspectors, 4,000 junior cops, nine companies of the State Reserve Police, 120 jawans of the Rapid Action Force, 80 personnel of the women CRPF, 600 traffic brigade personnel, 2,400 home guards, 160 cops with shoulder lights, eight mounted police personnel, 16 cops on superbikes, 80 specialist cops in black body-protecting gear, three quick response teams and sleuths from the crime branch. Over 750 CCTVs are in place and four drones will be monitoring the roads. All history-sheeters and potential mischief mongers are being watched. (12-09-2019)
Gujarat’s solar rooftop subsidy scheme made more attractive: The public response to Gujarat government’s subsidy scheme for solar rooftops was not very encouraging, with only 50,000 households coming forward to apply for it. The government has now announced a few relaxations, including the extending of the SURYA (Surya Urja Rooftop Yojana) scheme to cover group housing societies and residential welfare associations. The target is to cover, by 2021-22, the rooftops of 8 lakh households with photovoltaic systems to produce 1,600 MW of solar power. The household will be able to produce electricity by setting up photovoltaic systems on the rooftop. The house owner can use this power, and sell the additional power at Rs. 2.25 per unit to the government for 25 years. Permission will be given to 2 lakh houses on a first-come-first-served basis till March 31, 2020. Hopefully, 1,600 MW of solar power will be produced through rooftops in Gujarat by 2021-22. The state government will give 40 per cent subsidy to solar rooftop systems of up to 2 KW capacity and 20 per cent subsidy to those of 3 KW to 10 KW capacity. The owner can set up a solar rooftop system of any capacity, but the state government will not give any subsidy beyond 10 KW. The subsidy will also cover group housing societies and residential welfare associations; they can set up rooftop systems for running common amenities such as the water pump for the borewell, gymnasium, swimming pool and lighting in common areas. Solar cells and modules of non-Indian origin will not be eligible for the subsidy. Only new plant and machinery will be allowed. (11-09-2019)
Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge heritage train may get extended to Saputara: The Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge heritage train is likely to be extended to Saputara, Gujarat’s only hill station. This extension will boost tourism to Saputara and also allow tourists from south Gujarat to take a safe mode of transport to the hill station. The Western Railway may have to spend Rs. 100 crore for the track (and other infrastructure) from Waghai to Saputara. It seems that sponsors in Surat may come forward to foot the cost of renovating the train and its coaches. The three-wagon train presently does four daily trips – 195 minutes one way –  between Waghai in Dang district and Billmora in Navsari district. The route has nine stations between Bilimora and Waghai: Gandevi, Chikhli Road, Rankawa, Dholikua, Anawal, Unai & Vansada Road, Kevdi Road, Kala Amba and Dungarda. The train takes a break during the monsoon to avoid possible landslides on the hilly route. The train completed 106 years in July 2019. The 63-km track was laid by the British at the request of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad in 1913. It was a part of the Gaekwad’s Baroda State Railway (GBSR). Following independence, GBSR became a part of Western Railway. (11-09-2019)
Pilot emission trading scheme to start soon: From September 16, about 170 industries in Gujarat will participate in live trading in a pilot emission trading scheme (ETS). This is a big step towards reducing air pollution – specifically particulate pollutants PM2.5 and PM10 (that is, particles 2.5 microns and 10 microns wide). ETS is a market-based initiative. The government fixes a cap on emissions for each unit in an industrial cluster and allows the units to bid for the right to emit a percentage of the total. Units that emit less than their quota can trade their leftover emissions to units that exceed their quota. Units can buy and sell permits (trading units). During the last two months the participating industries have been busy understanding the modalities of the scheme by trading for practice. (10-09-2019)
Walkie talkies may soon be replaced in Gujarat’s police departments: Walkie talkies are the most commonly used push-to-talk communication devices used by the police. These instruments  may soon be replaced in Gujarat by the world’s most advanced system of internal communication – Mission Critical Push To Talk (MCPTT) over LTE. LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a standard for 4G wireless broadband technology that offers increased network capacity and speed to mobile device users. Walkie-talkies can only handle voice messages, but MCPTT devices enable sharing of data, videos and photographs as well as live streaming using 4G technology. Each MCPTT handset costs about Rs. 50,000. This technology is used in developed countries like the US, the UK and France. Gujarat will be the first state in India where the police department will deploy this advanced technology to improve response in critical crime situations. The Rajkot police department has been selected to implement the pilot project for this system. The Gujarat government has sanctioned Rs. 30 crore for the pilot project. Rajkot police commissioner Manoj Agarwal is an IIT-Kanpur alumnus with substantial experience in implementing information technology-based platforms. (10-09-2019)
Justice Vikram Nath is the new Chief Justice of Gujarat high court: The central government has announced the appointment of Justice Vikram Nath, the most senior judge of the Allahabad high court, as the Chief Justice of the Gujarat high court. He is at present posted as a judge in the Allahabad High Court. The Supreme Court collegium had last month recommended Justice Nath’s name for this position. The position of a full-time Chief Justice had been vacant after Justice R.S. Reddy was elevated to the supreme court. Justice Anant Surendraray Dave was appointed as the acting chief justice of the Gujarat High Court on 14 November, 2018. Justice Nath obtained his law degree in 1986 and, after his enrolment in 1987, he practised in the Allahabad high court. He was appointed an additional judge of the Allahabad high court in 2004, and made a permanent judge in 2006. (09-09-2019)
More than 680 permanent teaching posts vacant at MS University: MS University (MSU) currently has  682 permanent teaching posts which are vacant. For these posts, many of which have been vacant for years, the university has received over 9,000 applications. Interviews are likely to start in October, but the entire exercise may take as long as six months. Most of the applications are for teaching posts at the Faculty of Commerce and the Faculty of Technology and Engineering. Teaching and non-teaching staff members periodically attain superannuation and the sanctioned posts get vacant twice a year – in June and in October. MSU will adhere to the new guidelines of the University Grants Commission pertaining to the quota for economically weaker sections. Following the Supreme Court’s directives the reservation in faculty positions will be calculated department-wise and not for the university as a whole. (09-09-2019)
Rs. 500 crore sanctioned for Gujarat’s monsoon damaged roads: The Gujarat chief minister will grant Rs. 216 crore, under the Mukhyamantri Sadak Yojana, to eight cities for works related to repairing roads that were damaged during the monsoon. The break-up: Rs. 60 crore to Ahmedabad, Rs. 50 crore to Surat, Rs. 35 crore to Vadodara, Rs. 25 crore to Rajkot, Rs. 15 crore to Bhavnagar, Rs. 15 crore to Jamnagar. Rs. 6 crore to Junagadh and Rs. 10 crore to Gandhinagar. Of the total 2019-20 budget of Rs. 500 crore under the Yojana, Rs. 241.50 crore has been allocated to municipal corporations and Rs. 258.50 crore to municipalities. The works will start during Navratri. (08-09-2019)
GNLU launches Centre of Excellence for Air and Space Law: Gujarat National Law University (GNLU), Gandhinagar, has recently launched a Centre of Excellence for Air and Space Law. The objective is to develop skilled legal experts in the emerging field of space exploration. The experts will be specialised in international treaties, laws and regulations. Some topics that will be covered are military air law during aerial warfare, weaponisation of space, regulations for small satellites, protection of aerial sovereignty, regulations related to unmanned aviation systems, space tourism, space insurance, critical analysis of intentional destruction of satellites and property ownership in outer space, etc. Gujarat National Law University is a National Law University established under the Gujarat National Law University Act, 2003. (08-09-2019)
Somnath temple declared cleanest temple: Gujarat’s Somnath temple has been declared the cleanest temple in India under the central government's Swachh Bharat Mission. BVG (Bharat Vikas Group) India Ltd., an integrated services company, is one of the agencies which handles the upkeep of Somnath temple. Gujarat government’s campaign to clean up the state’s pilgrimage sites covers Somnath, Girnar, Dwarka, Ambaji, Palitana, Pavagadh, Shamlaji and Dakor. BVG is also responsible for Dwarka and the Statue of Unity. (07-09-2019)
Weight reduction surgery is not always for cosmetic purposes: A consumer court in Vadodara (Vadodara District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum) has ruled that weight reduction surgery is not always for cosmetic purposes. The court has directed an insurance company to pay the entire treatment cost incurred by a woman who went through surgery for morbid obesity. The court said that such surgery is often the only treatment for treating multiple ailments resulting from excessive weight. The court directed the insurance company to pay the woman Rs. 4.07 lakh which she spent for the surgery. The insurance company had said that the conditions of the policy make it clear that treatment for obesity and weight control and management treatments are not payable. The lawyer who represented the woman said that if the weight loss treatment is done to relieve the patient from other related ailments the claim should be cleared. (07-09-2019)
Mr. N.B. Upadhyay is new Vadodara Municipal Commissioner: The Gujarat government has announced that Mr. N.B. Upadhyay will be the new Vadodara Municipal Commissioner of Vadodara. With this announcement Vadodara District Collector Shalini Agarwal will no longer hold the additional charge as the civic body chief. Mr. Upadhyay, a Gujarat Administrative Service officer who was promoted to the IAS post, has been serving as the Commissioner of Land Reforms and the ex-officio secretary of the revenue department in Gandhinagar. (06-09-2019)
Alarming number of dog bite cases in Gujarat: About 27,300 dog bite cases were registered across Gujarat between July 22 and August 18. This works out to roughly 1,000 dogs bites a day. Of the eight municipal corporations Ahmedabad had the maximum complaints (3,920). Not a single case was reported in Bhavnagar district. The number of cases in Ahmedabad was three times the cases in Surat and Vadodara, and eight times more than in Rajkot. The authorities are a bit worried because the rabies vaccine is not easily available in the market, though the government hospitals have adequate stocks. August-September being the mating season for dogs, they tend to be more aggressive in their behaviour. People should generally avoid those roads which have more dogs. If this is not possible, they should keeps some food handy to distract the dogs. (06-09-2019)
Biometric attendance system made compulsory for all 15,000 private schools: The Gujarat government will make the biometric attendance system compulsory not only for government schools but also for all 15,000 private schools – including schools affiliated to ICSE, CBSE and other boards. The government wants to monitor the functioning of private schools. One objective is to shut down dummy schools. Private schools are mostly functioning without state monitoring. The state government pays Rs. 300 crore every year as the fees of about 3 lakh RTE (Right to Education) student, but there is little monitoring of the quality of education imparted in these schools. In some cases schools illegally take government grants for dummy RTE students. The state government will monitor the activities of all the schools regularly from October 2019. Over 300 expert teams will be responsible for the regular monitoring. (05-09-2019)
AICTE will inspect government run colleges also: The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will inspect Gujarat government run colleges from the point of view of quality of teaching, infrastructure issues and placements. Done until now only for private colleges, AICTE inspections have now also been extended to government run colleges offering degree engineering and pharmacy, diploma engineering, MBA and MCA courses. AICTE will also look into issues pertaining to vacant seats in government colleges. Colleges will have to submit details of student teacher ratios, infrastructure problems, etc., to the state government which in turn will forward them to the council. The last date for the states to submit the details is September 30. After that, experts appointed by the council will visit the colleges to verify the details provided. There are 31 diploma engineering colleges, 16 engineering colleges, 3 pharmacy colleges and two colleges each for MBA and MCA courses. This move follows the recent decision to get all higher education institutions in the country accredited by 2022. (05-09-2019)
Gujarat may soon notify revised penalties for traffic offences: The Gujarat government may take a week to notify the fines listed under the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019. The fines proposed in the Act of the central government are likely to remain untouched. The police and RTO department staff will be given powers to collect on-the-spot fines from offenders. If the offender does not pay on the spot, the fine will have to be paid in court along with the court fee. The new law provides for stricter punishment for traffic offences; the minimum fine has been increased from Rs. 100 to Rs. 500. The central government act proposes a fine of Rs. 5,000 for driving without licence, and a fine of Rs. 10,000 for not giving way to an emergency vehicle. Over-speeding will attract a fine of between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 2,000. Driving without insurance will be punishable with a Rs. 2,000 fine, and driving without helmets will mean a penalty of Rs. 1,000 and a 3-month suspension of licence. For road offences by juveniles the guardian or the vehicle owner will be deemed to be guilty, and the registration of the vehicle will be cancelled. (04-09-2019)
Somnath declared a ‘Swachh Iconic Place’: Somnath will shortly be declared a ‘Swachh Iconic Place’ (SIP). The Swachh Iconic Places is an initiative under the Swachh Bharat Mission. It is a special clean-up initiative focused on select iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country. The initiative is being coordinated by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in association with the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the concerned State governments. Somnath Yatradham is run by the Gujarat Pavitra Yatradham Vikas Board. The award will be given on September 6 at a function in Delhi. A private company maintains cleanliness at Somnath; an area of 1.74 lakh square metres is cleaned daily. (04-09-2019)
Two-wheeler driver given traffic challans worth Rs. 23,000: Shortly after the amended Motor Vehicles Act took effect on Sunday a two-wheeler driver in Gurgaon was issued challans totalling Rs. 23,000 on Monday. His offences: driving without a license, without possessing a registration certificate, without third party insurance, not wearing a helmet and violating air pollution standards. Over 3,900 challans were issued for traffic violations in Delhi on Sunday. Over 60 clauses of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, have come into effect and penalties have been increased substantially. The Act has empowered judicial bodies to penalise defaulters with the revised rates. But the traffic police are not a judicial body. So, the fine collected is technically called the compounding amount, which means the defaulter pays that amount instead of facing a trial. As per the amended law, driving without a seat belt will attract a fine of Rs. 1,000 against the earlier penalty of Rs. 100. Those using phones while driving will be fined up to Rs. 5,000, which was earlier Rs. 1,000. Penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol has been increased to Rs. 10,000 from Rs. 2,000. Not giving way for emergency vehicles will be punishable with a fine of Rs. 10,000. Driving without a licence will attract a penalty of Rs. 5,000 as against Rs. 500 earlier. (03-09-2019)
Gujarat Sadan inaugurated in New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new Gujarat Sadan on Akbar Road in New Delhi on Monday. Built at a cost of Rs. 131 crore, the complex sprawls over 7,000 square metres of land. The Gujarat Sadan will also double as a centre to promote trade, tourism, cultural programmes and food festivals. The complex has been readied ahead of schedule. The Gujarat chief minister said that this is the first eco-friendly state bhawan in the national capital, and it is a mix of traditional and modern architecture which reflects Gujarat’s culture. (03-09-2019)
River rafting launched in Narmada river at Kevadia Colony: The Gujarat tourism department and the Statue of Unity (SoU) authorities have started the sport of river rafting downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Narmada river at Kevadia Colony. The thrilling ride is in six-seater boats on a five-kilometre stretch from Godbole gate to Surya Kund, Khalvani. The stretch can be covered in two hours. Tickets – Rs. 1,000 per person – can be booked online at the SoU website. While more boats will be added later, currently six boats carrying six tourists are in operation. A trainer is available and the boats have adequate safety features. Safety helmets and personal floating devices in accordance with marine coast guard standards will be added. Other attractions that will be added shortly are bungee jumping, two-way zipline, rappelling wall, etc. (02-09-2019)
Modern facilities at Vadodara Railway station: The Vadodara railway station now offers an air-conditioned waiting room, nine renovated AC deluxe retiring rooms and one six-bed AC dormitory. The existing AC waiting room area on platform number 1 has been increased by 45 square metres; it has modern interiors, seating for 80 persons, LED TVs, speaker for public announcements, and modern electrical fittings. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will soon start a tourist facilitation centre at the station to offer a variety of tourism-related services, such as customised land and air tour packages for domestic and international travellers, taxi services, sightseeing, etc. (02-09-2019)
Every hotel check-in will be entered into Gujarat police software: The Gujarat Police will tag every hotel in the state with its software ‘Pathik’; it is presently used by the crime branch only for Ahmedabad’s 680 hotels. The software gives the police instant information of every guest who checks into any hotel. All hotels and guest houses must compulsorily enter guest names and addresses in ‘Pathik’, and this information will be instantly available at the nearby police station. Hotels may also feed in any other helpful information. A set of user name and password will be given to each hotel and guest house. The CDR records of the crime branch and city police units will be shared with 38 control units that will be set up across the state. The cops will be able to extract the relevant details about a suspect instantly. (01-09-2019)
The wife’s not knowing basic cooking does not constitute cruelty: In a recent ruling – while declining a man’s divorce plea – the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that the wife’s not knowing basic cooking, her being overly attached to her parents or her being rude to her husband does not constitute cruelty. The man cannot seek dissolution of their marriage on grounds of cruelty and desertion (the wife left the matrimonial home after alleged repeated harassment by her in-laws). The judge said that they can at best be “said to be trivial issues, which may and do arise between spouses in any marriage”. The judge added that levelling of “scandalous and malicious allegations of adultery” against the wife amounts to cruelty. The court added there was nothing which prevented her from taking recourse to criminal proceedings against the husband and his family but she chose instead to seek assistance of authorities to save her marriage. The court said, “We have no hesitation in holding that the respondent-wife cannot be held guilty of desertion but it is the appellant-husband, who is guilty of ‘constructive desertion’”. (01-09-2019)
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