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Rural Gujarat spent more than national average: The household monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) of Rs. 2,581 in urban Gujarat is lower than the national average of Rs. 2,630. As against this, Gujarat’s average rural MPCE of Rs. 1,536 is higher than the national average of Rs. 1,430. The MPCE figures for some other states: Maharashtra (Rs. 3,189 urban, Rs. 1,619 rural), Madhya Pradesh (Rs. 2,058 urban, Rs. 1,152 rural), Rajasthan (Rs. 2,442 urban, Rs. 1,598 rural), Punjab (Rs. 2,794 urban, Rs. 2,345 rural), Andhra Pradesh (Rs. 2,685 urban, Rs. 1,754 rural). These figures have been collected by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation in an all-India survey on household consumption between July 2017 and June 2018. (09-12-2019)
Almost 40% children in 0-to-4 year group are stunted in Gujarat: The central government’s comprehensive nutrition survey 2016-18 for children in the 0-to-4 year group indicates that 39% of these children in Gujarat are stunted. It is the fourth worst performer in India on this front. In the same age group nearly 34% are underweight. Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median. The period spanning the first 1,000 days is the most important period to intervene to prevent the lifelong damage caused by malnutrition. Malnutrition leads to long-term health problems, educational challenges and limited work opportunities. (08-12-2019)
Online attendance system for teachers in self-financed schools: The Gujarat government’s education department will ask all self-financed schools to adopt the online school attendance system for their teachers. This system is already being followed by grant-in aid and government schools. The primary education director and the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) have jointly instructed all district education officers (DEOs) and district primary education officers (DPEOs) to implement the decision within ten days. Not all members of the Gujarat State Self-Financed Management Association are very happy with the government’s new directive; they feel that the attendance of teachers in self-financed schools is for their managements or trustees to take care of and government should have no role to play. (08-12-2019)
Arvind Agrawal is new GSFC CMD: Mr. Arvind Agrawal – Additional Chief Secretary, Finance in the Gujarat government – has been appointed chairman and managing director (CMD) of Vadodara based Gujarat State Fertilisers and Chemical Ltd. (GSFC). He is a 1984-batch IAS officer, the seniormost in the state. He will continue as GSFC CMD for one year from the date of assuming charge, or until further orders. (08-12-2019)
Balasinor police station is India’s second-best: The Balasinor police station in Gujarat’s Mahisagar district has been rated as the second-best in the country. The award, announced at a recent conference of police top brass at Pune, recognises the best 10 among India’s 15,579 police stations. The top honour went to Aberdeen police station in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The third rank was taken by the Ajk police station in the Burhanpur district of Madhya Pradesh. The preliminary rating is based on the parameters of the Crime and Criminal Tracking System Network. The next step is a survey of the best police stations selected from each state. Among the factors that stood out for the Balasinor police station are: good crime detection rate, technology savvy, good facilities for women, adequate women police personnel, good physical fitness of the staff, clean and well maintained premises. (07-12-2019)
States cannot reduce traffic fines: Attorney general K.K. Venugopal has said that the central government is within its rights to issue directions to states to implement the law passed by Parliament. Referring to the
recently amended Motor Vehicle Act, he said that state governments cannot reduce fines for traffic offences below what has been notified as the minimum amount. The road transport and highways ministry had asked the law ministry to give its legal opinion after Gujarat and some other state governments had reduced a few of the fines below the minimum penalties specified in the amended Motor Vehicle Act. The amended Act is a parliamentary legislation and states cannot pass any law or issue any executive order to fix the penalty. The legal opinion is that disobedience of the Centre’s direction can even attract action under Article-356, which means that the state government will have to implicitly comply with the central law. Some states breached the lower limit of the fines prescribed in the central law and even altered fines, which the Act does not permit. (07-12-2019)
Elusive pigeons at Vadodara airport terminal: When the Vadodara airport terminal was constructed in 2016 some pigeons got trapped inside the building, and they have not been able to fly out of the huge structure since then. Perhaps they choose not to move out of the swanky air-conditioned complex! In any case, the pigeons are proving to quite a nuisance for passengers and airport employees – specially the cleaning staff. Wherever there are birds, there will be liberal doses of bird droppings. For want of any other solution, airport officials have announced a cash reward of Rs. 1,000 – per pigeon –  for anyone who can rescue the birds. Help is being sought from voluntary organisations and wildlife activists who have expertise in catching, rescuing and rehabilitating the birds. It seems that there are only 15 to 20 pigeons. (07-12-2019)
Disabled lady gives a lesson in honesty: A disabled lady in Vadodara makes a living for herself and her disabled son by begging in front of temples. The lady was recently inconvenienced by a relatively huge Vadodara Municipal Corporation property tax bill which was served to her. The bill was for a period beginning in 2003, but it was given to her only a few days back. The annual tax was Rs. 749, but the interest on the unpaid amount kept on getting added until the total was a rather high Rs. 15,000. Unaffordable though the amount may have been, the lady went to pay up the arrears at the civic body’s ward office; she was carrying her son in her tricycle. She offered her bag of collections and savings – coins and currency notes of small denominations – to pay up the pending amount. Both impressed by her honesty and touched by her condition, VMC officials helped her to get the disability rebate that was rightfully due to her – but which she was unaware of. (06-12-2019)
World body moves to improve ayurveda’s global reach: The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering how the study, training and practice of ayurveda can be taken up throughout the world. WHO plans to publish a document on how the relevant standard operating procedures (SOP) can be developed. Such standardisation may help to make this ancient therapy acceptable to a wider audience. The objective is to make ayurveda’s advantages available globally to the medical community. Towards this end officials of WHO and representatives of 22 countries met at the Gujarat Ayurved University (GAU) in Jamnagar to finalise the draft of an action plan. The meeting was held from November 26 to December 4 at GAU’s Institute for Postgraduate Teaching & Research in Ayurveda. It was organised with assistance from the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy). WHO will take more than a year to publish the final document. (06-12-2019)
Statue of Unity attracts more tourists than Statue of Liberty: Officials of Sardar Sarovar Nigam Ltd (SSNL) say that the Statue of Unity (SoU) at Kevadia Colony gets more footfalls than New York’s Statue of Liberty. The average daily footfalls at SoU were 15,036 in November; for the Statue of Liberty the figure is 10,000. SoU’s daily average between November 1, 2018 and October 31 this year was 8,653 footfalls. Other attractions at the site are the jungle safari, butterfly park, cactus garden, river rafting and boating. Over 30.90 lakh people have visited the site till November 30 this year; the income generated was Rs. 85.57 crore. (06-12-2019)
VMC cuts water connection to AATAPI Wonderland: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has finally taken the long overdue step of disconnecting water to the AATAPI Wonderland theme park. Water was being drawn illegally by the park directly from the pipeline which supplied the city from the Ajwa reservoir. VMC had to provide free water to the theme park only for the maintenance of its gardens. VMC said that the theme park was drawing water illegally for commercial use from the same connection. The park has come up on land which was earlier occupied by VMC’s Ajwa Garden. The theme park is a public-private partnership venture. VMC owns the land, Gujarat Tourism has partly financed the project, and the remaining part has been borne by the park operator. (05-12-2019)
Too many cases of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables: Some unfortunate facts have emerged in a recent report prepared by Anand Agriculture University (AAU) and Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) for the Union ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare. The report dealt with pesticide residues in food products. Toxic residues – some banned by the Indian government – were found in vegetables, pulses, fruits, spices and red chilli powder collected from 2,427 samples of food items and tested independently for pesticide residue. The toxic chemicals can damage nerves and obstruct fertility. The samples had been collected from many places – Ahmedabad, Ambav, Dabhoi, Khambhat, Padra, Ankleshwar, Anand, Vadodara, Kunjrav, Sankheda, Surendranagar, Kadi. (05-12-2019)
VMC will give treated waste water to public sector units: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is preparing to supply treated waste water (TWW) to state public sector undertakings (PSUs) in the city. The government had recently suggested that industrial units using one lakh litres of water per day for purposes other than drinking should use TWW. VMC will treat sewage as per industry requirements at a sewage treatment plant (STP) which is being constructed at Chhani. The STP can process 50 MLD of sewage; it will need better filtration facilities and pressure lines to provide TWW. GSFC, GACL and GIPCL have approached VMC to supply TWW. VMC will form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to supply TWW to the PSUs. The likely capital cost is about Rs. 125 crore. GSFC will bear 60 % of the cost,  GACL and GIPCL 15% each, and VMC 10%. To implement the project, the stakeholders have decided to form a SPV which will have one representative each from VMC, GSFC, GACL and GIPCL. (05-12-2019)
Gujarat is considered safe for women: Since 2014 Gujarat has reported one rape and one molestation daily. This is according to the state crime records bureau (SCRB). The state has also reported incidents of trafficking of women and girls. Between 2014 and September 2019, there were 14 reported cases of importation of girls (importing a girl from a foreign country) and 264 cases of immoral trafficking. All of this is happening in a state which has long been considered to be safe for women. (04-12-2019)
Makson Group may make microlight aircraft: Makson Group promoter Dhanji Patel may venture into making microlight aircraft near Surendranagar. The company manufactures a wide range of processing machines from cooking to forming of candies, toffees, lollipops, depositor candies, jellies and toffees. It makes confectioneries for many top global chocolate brands such as Mondelez, Nestle, Parle, Procter & Gamble and Unilever. It has recently tied up with companies in Serbia for technical support to make two-seater and four-seater aircraft and also air ambulances. Statutory permissions to set up the unit are likely to be obtained soon. The engines and blades for the aircraft will be imported, all other parts will be sourced locally and the aircraft will be assembled in Surendranagar. Microlight aircraft do not need a runway for take-off or landing; only a simple airstrip is needed, which can be made on a farm also. The regulatory body for civil aviation in India, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has already framed guidelines for microlight aircraft. The cost of one such aircraft is around Rs. 70 lakh. (04-12-2019)
MSU project used common fungi to revive barren mining land: Land near mining sites often becomes barren due to toxic and heavy metals. Researchers at MS University of Baroda have had some success in using a commonly found fungi to turn such land fertile. An experiment was conducted to reclaim mining wasteland at Kadipani in Vadodara district which has the country’s largest deposit of fluorspar. It was found that barren mining soil can be made fertile by using trichoderma, a commonly found fungi that acts as a growth promoter as well as biocontrol agent. MSU’s Department of Environmental Studies successfully planted maize and moong plants in the experiment. This indicated that plantation is possible in mining land. At Kadipani, fluorspar ore is processed to produce calcium fluoride concentrate that acts as a raw material for manufacturing of hydrofluoric acid, refrigerant gases, aluminium fluoride, synthetic cryolite, fluorine chemicals and flux in metallurgical industries. Fluorspar is widely used in the steel making, agricultural and metallurgical industries. In Gujarat alone, nearly 12,000 hectares of land is under mining. The MSU project was funded by Gujarat’s forest department with the support of Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC). GMDC mines fluorspar using the open-cast mining method. In this method large tracts of land are excavated to extract materials. (04-12-2019)
Gujarat is among least corrupt states in the country: According to Transparency International’s India Corruption Survey-2019, Gujarat has emerged as among the least corrupt state in the country. Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, West Bengal, Kerala, Goa and Odisha turned out to be the states where citizens reported low instances of corruption, while Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Punjab were the states where citizens reported higher instances of corruption. India’s ranking in the Corruption Perception Index 2018 released by Transparency International, had improved 3 places compared to last year and now stands at 78th position out of 180 countries. Overall, 24% citizens admitted to giving bribes several times in the last 12 months and 27% admitted to paying bribes once or twice; 16% said they always managed to get work done without paying a bribe while 33% said they did not have a need. The survey was based on responses of around 190,000 citizens from 248 rural and urban districts in 20 states. One reason for Gujarat’s performance is that many government processes have been made online so that human interactions are minimised. Some examples: e-auction of mines and mineral ores, drone surveillance of mining, and monitoring of several government departments in real time through 3,400 indicators. Also, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has been equipped with the latest technology and equipment – button cameras, pen cameras, voice recorders, etc. – for more efficient policing. (04-12-2019)
Hallmarking of gold jewellery will soon be mandatory: Hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts will be mandatory across India from January 15, 2020. The market believes that this will lead to a level playing field for branded as well as non-branded jewellers. All jewellers will be compelled to adhere to a certain quality standard. This will particularly benefit the smaller players, because the big-brand showrooms had the advantage of being associated with an assurance of quality while the small fry were viewed with suspicion. Also, customers will now have a good reason to trust their jewellers. The state as well as central government are likely to give financial assistance to set up more hallmarking centres. (03-12-2019)
Vadodara MP Ms Ranjan Bhatt appointed to defence panel: Vadodara Lok Sabha Member of Parliament Ms Ranjan Bhatt has been appointed as a member of the consultative committee for the ministry of defence. She replaces Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in the committee. The notification regarding this was issued by the ministry of parliamentary affairs. The 21-member panel is chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh. This is the second parliamentary consultative committee to which Ms Bhatt has been appointed. She is already a member of a consultative committee for the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers. (03-12-2019)
MSU will conduct GSET on Dec 29: This year over 30,000 candidates will appear for the Gujarat State Eligibility Test (GSET). The test will be conducted on December 29 by MS University (MSU) in 23 subjects at 11 centres across the state. MSU has been appointed and authorised as the nodal agency of the state government to conduct the State Eligibility Test for the university and college teachers of Gujarat. GSET determines the eligibility of candidates for the post of assistant professor in the state’s universities and colleges. Last year, nearly 25,000 candidates had registered for the test. The maximum number of applications have been received for subjects like commerce, science and life sciences. While two new subjects, social work and earth science, have been added, subjects like philosophy and geography have been removed from the list of subjects. (03-12-2019)
Hair transplant procedure not quite successful: The Chandigarh Consumer Forum has asked a hair and scalp clinic to pay Rs. 1 lakh to a customer whose hair transplant surgery was not quite successful. The customer had paid Rs. 70,000 for the procedure. He told the clinic that the hair was not dense enough after the procedure, but the clinic asked for Rs. 23,000 more to increase the hair density. The customer finally resorted to a legal notice to the clinic, and eventually approached the consumer forum. The clinic said that the complainant was suffering from baldness and was duly informed that in such cases the hair density would be lower than the natural hair density; also, the complainant had duly signed the consent form and the transplant procedure was successfully performed. The forum held that when the earlier procedure was successful there should be no necessity to suggest that the complainant should go for a further transplant to increase the density of hair by additionally paying Rs. 23,000. The forum directed the clinic to refund the amount of Rs. 70,000, along with interest at 9 percent per annum, and pay Rs. 25,000 as compensation plus Rs. 10,000 as cost of litigation. (02-12-2019)
Anil Kumble got 690 wickets from 40,000 deliveries: Vadodara based Parul University recently gave a doctor of literature (D Litt) degree to Padma Shree awardee Anil Kumble, former Indian cricketer, captain and coach of the Indian cricket team. Mr. Kumble was honoured in recognition of his contribution to the field of cricket at the university’s annual convocation. Over 3,500 students received their diplomas and degrees at the convocation. In his convocation address Mr. Kumble advocated persistence. He said that he is known as a bowler who has taken 690 wickets, but few people realise that those wickets came from 40,000 deliveries. (02-12-2019)
Railway Staff College campus gets green certification: MS University (MSU) has once again played the role of a ‘green consultant’ by assisting the Vadodara based National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) to get certification under the green campus rating system of the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). NAIR – more popularly known by its earlier name of Railway Staff College – had hired MSU as consultant to process the certification. MSU had also assisted the Vadodara police department to obtain a green building certificate for the Harni police station – the first police station in the country to get a green building certificate. An IGBC team had come to Vadodara for a 45-day physical inspection of the campus. The team had inspected on the basis of parameters such as sanitation, power, electricity supply, water supply, sludge water disposal system, green cover and solar power generation facilities. The main building on the NAIR campus is the Pratap Vilas Palace. The construction of the palace had started on February 15, 1908, during the reign of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, and it was completed on July 30, 1914. NAIR conducts training programmes for railway officials from across the country. (02-12-2019)
One-stop centre opened for women in distress: A one-stop centre (OSC) – called Sakhi – to help victims of gender-based violence has been inaugurated at SSG Hospital. It will give round-the-clock support and assistance to female victims who are subjected to domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment and dowry harassment in private and public spaces. It will also assist in cases of missing women, abduction and kidnapping. In addition to providing services to girls below 18 years in coordination with authorities and institutions established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the centre will also assist victims in filing FIRs. It will also provide counselling and psycho-social support. A woman can access OSC by herself or through any person or through a women’s helpline integrated with police, ambulance and other emergency response helplines. When an aggrieved woman approaches the OSC for help either in person or if anybody approaches on her behalf the case details will be fed in to a system as per the prescribed format and a Unique ID Number will be generated. (01-12-2019)
Deplorable incident at Navlakhi compound: It is alleged that a 14-year-old girl was gang-raped by two persons in the Navlakhi compound on the night of Thursday (28th November). While at the compound with a 16-year-old male friend, she was confronted by two persons posing as cops. The two persons thrashed the boy and dragged the girl away to an isolated spot. The boy then rushed to the nearby main road to seek help. Several police teams arrived and began looking for the girl. It took about 90 minutes of searching before the girl was finally spotted in an isolated spot. She narrated what happened to her to the cops. Subsequent medical examination confirmed that she was sexually assaulted multiple times. Supreme Court directives do not permit the authorities to reveal the victim’s name in sexual assault cases. Based on the girl’s description a massive search has been mounted for the culprits by 20 police teams drawn from the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), Prevention of Crime Branch (PCB) and Special Operation Group (SOG). A dog squad and drones were also pressed into service at the scene. It is believed that the suspects are 20 to 25 years old, and were talking in a language that the girl does not know. The authorities have announced a reward of Rs. 1 lakh for any person who gives information regarding the two accused. The sprawling Navlakhi compound – owned by the royal Gaekwad family and very close to the Akota-Dandia Bazar Road – is a very popular ground where hundreds of Barodians hang around in the evenings. It is used by children to play cricket and many people use it to learn driving. It is one of the few large, open and welcoming spaces in the city. (01-12-2019)
Dengue cases cross 1,000 this year: With the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) recording 16 new dengue cases on 29th November, the number of dengue cases in the city has touched 1,028 this year. This is the worst year since 2013. VMC believes that the outbreak will come under control in the next few days. Officially, no deaths have been reported due to dengue this year but there is some uncertainty about nine deaths that could not be confirmed in the absence of an ELISA test. This year’s outbreak can perhaps be linked to a prolonged wet season. Measures to prevent mosquito breeding continue, and several construction sites have been issued warnings about inadequate cleanliness. (01-12-2019)
This water pipeline lasted for 127 years: The water pipeline from the Ajwa reservoir to the Nimeta filtration plant was laid when the reservoir was constructed during the reign of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. Water began being supplied to the city from the Ajwa reservoir in 1892. The cast iron pipeline has done its job for 127 years, and corrosion has now begun. It now needs to be ‘retired’ and replaced. A new pipeline will cost the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) about Rs.70 crore. A filtration plant will also be built. Tenders have been floated for the new pipeline project. What will happen to the old pipeline? Will it be sold to a scrap dealer? Or can it be dug up, sliced into sentimental heritage sections, and preserved in several places in the city as a tribute to Sayajirao’s ancient corruption-free civil engineering? (30-11-2019)
Not all Bengaluru traffic cops are ‘real’: A Bengaluru traffic cop’s experience says that people follow rules once they spot the traffic police on duty. Therefore the cop and his team have positioned about 200 mannequins at several traffic junctions in the city. The mannequins will be shifted periodically to other roads, and sometimes even replaced with real police personnel. The mannequins have been dressed up in police uniforms, reflector jackets, boots, hats, and masks to make them look like actual policemen. Some experts do not quite agree with this experiment. They say that Bengaluru needs 7,000 traffic cops but has only 5,000; they believe that only real cops – not mannequins – are what the city needs. The city has over 82 lakh vehicles. (30-11-2019)
If you pay for government documents you are a ‘consumer’: The Vadodara Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ruled that anyone seeking certified copies of documents from government department by paying the appropriate fees is also considered to be a consumer. The forum was upholding the arguments of a Right to Information (RTI) Act activist who had been denied certified copies of documents by two government officials. The RTI activist had paid the appropriate fees and since he did not get any copies of documents he approached the consumer court. The court not only considered the activist to be a consumer but also stated that giving certified copies is not judicial work but administrative work and therefore his complaint can be heard under the Consumer Protection Act. According to the Bombay Revenue Jurisdiction Act and the Indian Evidence Act any citizen can seek certified copies of documents. If the copies are not given, then the applicant can give a formal reminder and then approach the court. (30-11-2019)
Over 45% of people in Gujarat paid a bribe this year: Efforts are being made to reduce corruption, but there is still a long way to go before this menace is eliminated. A survey by LocalCircles in collaboration with Transparency International India suggested that 26% of Gujaratis paid a bribe several times in 2019. The figure for those who paid a bribe at least once was 31%. In 2019 this number went up to 48%. The survey covered about 2,500 respondents across the state. The report indicated that the maximum bribes were paid to police personnel, the next in line being civic authorities. It should be pointed out that these findings are different from the figures put out by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). NCRB data shows that corruption has been declining in Gujarat. (29-11-2019)
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