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Compulsory rural service stint for doctors reduced to one year: The Gujarat government has reduced the compulsory rural service stint from three years to one year for MBBS students. At the same time, the bond and surety value has been raised from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh. Too many doctors are presently opting out of compulsory internship in rural areas, and it is hoped that the new rules will motivate them to do their compulsory stint. The state government has increased the intake of MBBS student from this year. The medical college admission process that ended recently saw all 5,360 MBBS seats being filled up. The seats in Ayurveda colleges are also completely filled up. (16-08-2019)
Gujarat Real Estate Regulatory Authority orders forensic audit of a project in Vadodara: The Gujarat Real Estate Regulatory Authority (GujRERA) has ordered a forensic audit of a residential project in Vadodara. This is the first time that GujRERA has taken such a step. The action followed complaints by customers about project delays. In order to protect customers in the real estate sector RERA is armed with the powers of a civil court. Steps such as the forensic audit help to ensure that real estate developers become more accountable and complete their projects on time. Audits make it more difficult to divert funds between projects. In this particular case the residential project was started in March 2013 and was to be completed by December 2019. Over 40 of the 200 buyers approached Gujarat RERA complaining that the project is unlikely to be completed by the scheduled date. (15-08-2019)
‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ plan: Working towards the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ plan the central government has now started the inter-state portability of ration cards with Andhra Pradesh-Telangana and Gujarat-Maharashtra. When the plan is operational ration card holders from one state can get their quota of subsidised foodgrains from ration shops in other states. Intra-state portability (where beneficiaries can lift their quota from any PDS within the state) is already operational in Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tripura. Beneficiaries can get the entitled foodgrain, or even a part of it. This facility is a big advantage for migrant labourers. The government presently supplies 5 kg of subsidised foodgrains per month per beneficiary, to over 81 crore beneficiaries. (14-08-2019)
Consumer court holds bank responsible for theft of jewellery from lockers: Following the theft of gold and jewellery from its safe deposit lockers, a cooperative bank has been held responsible by the Gujarat Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The bank will have to compensate the account holders for the loss. Though the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) rules do not specify this, the consumer court felt that the bank had not taken proper safety measures. The case was pertaining to 2005 and the court ordered the bank to pay the compensation according to the prevailing gold rate in 2005, with 9% interest per year. (13-08-2019)
‘Hellaro’ wins National Film Award for best feature film: Gujarati film ‘Hellaro’ has won the 2018 National Film Award in the best feature film category. Due for release later this year, it is the first Gujarati film to get this award. Among the other films in the running were ‘Uri’, ‘The Surgical Strike’, ‘Andhadhun’ and ‘Badhai Ho’. It was almost 40 years ago that a Gujarati film made news nationally, when Ketan Mehta’s ‘Bhavni Bhavai’ won the National Award for the best feature film on national integration. ‘Hellaro’ has been directed by Abhishek Shah; he has also written the script. Saumya Joshi has written the lyrics. The thirteen actresses of the film received the Special Jury Award for their performances. Another Gujarati film ‘Reva’ won the national award in the best Gujarati language film category. (12-08-2019)
The city tinkered with its water bodies over the years, and perhaps invited the flooding: Architect Sanjeev Joshi had conducted a study in 2008 about the city’s ponds. Titled ‘Vanishing Water Scapes’, it showed what the people of Baroda have done to their once wonderful water bodies over the years. The study says that the ponds were engulfed by the city as it grew. The core of the city had 30 ponds 130 years back; 13 of these had vanished by 2008, and the sizes of the other ponds have reduced significantly. The 13 water bodies that ‘disappeared’ were spread over about 25 acres. Of the remaining 17 – except for the Sursagar and Siddhnath ponds – the surface area has shrunk compared to 1886. The ponds served the dual purpose of rainwater harvesting and flood control. When it rained, water from the surrounding areas flowed into them and percolated rapidly, thus preventing flooding. Though Vadodara has been prone to floods in the Vishwamitri river, the severe water logging is a recent phenomenon. Mr. Joshi believes that we have interfered with the water bodies without quite understanding the repercussions. His study was restricted only to the ponds in the core area of the city, but he believes that the situation may be the same even in the city’s recently developing peripheral areas. Mr. Joshi is also co-convener of the state unit of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). (11-08-2019)
Migration within a state can be a fascinating subject: The movement of people who move from one Indian state to another state, or from one part of a state to another part, can be quite a fascinating subject. Consider a few of the migration statistics in the latest census for seven of the eight cities in Gujarat which are run by municipal corporations: almost half the population in the cities are migrants (that is, people who resided in the state’s other urban and rural areas or outside the state); 64.6% of Surat’s population are migrants, and 32.2% of these are from outside the state; 46% of Ahmedabad’s population are migrants, and 12.4% of these are from outside the state; 59% of Junagadh’s population are migrants, but only 1.7% of these are from outside the state. The major reasons for migration are work, relocation after marriage, overcrowding in the current place of residence, high cost of living in the current place of work, better work opportunities, healthcare and education services elsewhere, etc. (10-08-2019)
RTO checkposts may be removed from Gujarat’s borders: The Gujarat government has decided to close down the regional transport office (RTO) checkposts along the state's borders. It seems that these checkposts – there are 17 of them – cause traffic jams on the highways, and also present opportunities for corruption. The manual checking of vehicles will be discontinued to make way for quicker alternative monitoring methods, such as using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, camera-based surveillance techniques, systems based on the weight of vehicles. Vehicle owners will have to upload all relevant details – weight, tax payments, etc. – on an online system. Hopefully, the new system will ensure that only the vehicles violating the norms are delayed on the roads. Of course, mobile squads will be deployed to nab those who slip through the net. (09-08-2019)
Ahmedabad’s community health centres will have super specialty doctors: The urban and community health centres of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) will have super specialty doctors. As instructed by the government these doctors will be appointed at regular – not fixed – salaries. The government will pay the salaries under the Gujarat Urban Health Project. Each of Ahmedabad’s 72 urban health centres (UHCs) and seven community health centres (CHCs) currently has one MBBS doctor. With super specialists now being available at these centres, patients will be spared the inconvenience of visiting the civil hospital or big private hospitals for specialised treatment. The appointments will be made by the AMC. (09-08-2019)
College teachers oppose compulsory online attendance system: Some time back the Gujarat state education department issued a notification to all government-run and grant-in-aid colleges making the online attendance system compulsory for teachers, non-teaching staff and students. The notification says that if a faculty member is recorded over ten minutes late more than thrice a month, one day of leave will be deducted. Also, faculty members must take the students’ attendance and upload it daily. Teachers and non-teaching staff have not reacted very favourably to the education department’s instructions and their respective unions have opposed the idea. A variety of reasons have been given for opposing the government’s move: the attendance-taking exercise takes over 20 minutes and curtails academic time to that extent; many faculty and non-teaching positions are vacant and there is not enough staff; mobile networks for uploading data are not uniformly reliable across the state. One other concern that has been raised is that many students are also working at jobs during the day, and strict attendance rules may increase the college dropout rate. (08-08-2019)
Dr. Nikhil Zaveri appointed provost of GSFC University: Dr. Nikhil Zaveri has been appointed provost (vice-chancellor) of Vadodara based GSFC University. The search committee for the post was chaired by Mr. Sudhir Mankad, former chief secretary of Gujarat government. Dr. Zaveri, a gold medallist from Sardar Patel University, is also an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He has over 30 years of experience in the field of education. GSFC University was established by the GSFC Education Society, an initiative of Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd. The GSFC Education Society was launched in 2010 as a CSR programme of GSFC. The university’s governing body comprises of industrialists, educationists, management, finance and legal experts and representatives from the social sector. (08-08-2019)
Bengaluru mayor fined Rs. 500 for presenting a gift wrapped in plastic: The Bengaluru mayor was recently fined Rs. 500 for presenting a gift wrapped in plastic to the Karnataka chief minister. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had banned single-use plastics in 2016 following a notification by the Karnataka government. The BBMP scrupulously enforces the plastic ban by penalising those found manufacturing, supplying, storing, transporting, selling, distributing and using plastic in the city. Bengaluru churns out 4,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste every month, and 20 per cent of this is contributed by plastics (covers, cups, spoons, plates, flags, banners, buntings, flex, cling films, non-woven polypropylene bags). (07-08-2019)
Heavy rains have damaged the stocks of many shopkeepers: Many small traders in Vadodara have suffered severe losses due to the recent deluge of rain which flooded several areas in the city. Their shops were stocked with more than the usual inventory ahead of the festive season, and a large part of their goods were damaged. According to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Gujarat chapter, 50% of the traders are not even adequately insured. Some shopkeepers feel that the government should give them some compensation for the damage, in the same way that farmers are often compensated for crop losses. The damage is not negligible small change; the traders have suffered losses running into lakhs. (07-08-2019)
MS University students’ union elections postponed due to recent rain: The MS University Students’ Union (MSUSU) elections have been postponed from August 10 to August 14 by the university authorities. A university circular to this effect says that students can pay their fees up to August 9. All the rules and regulations remain unchanged and as per the notification issued on July 25. The reason for the postponement is that the university campus was closed for several days because of the heavy rain and flooding in the city. (06-08-2019)
Rain waters retreat from Vadodara, leaving the filth behind: As the rain waters retreat from Vadodara, the health and sanitation drive mounted by the authorities has been hampered by more spells of rain. Still, 96 three-person health teams have managed to check about two lakh people in door-to-door visits. In 103 health camps doctors examined 15,825 patients; minor health problems were attended to in 5,500 persons. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has deployed over 3,000 sanitation workers and requisitioned another 200 from Ahmedabad and Surat. Over 350 vehicles have been used to remove 600 tonnes of sludge and garbage from some of the affected areas. Over 4.5 lakh litres of drinking water were distributed by water tankers in many areas. Schools and colleges functioned normally from today. (05-08-2019)
A ‘super-fit’ cop can get a choice posting: If you want a posting of your choice in Gujarat’s State Reserve Police (SRP) wing, you need to be rated a ‘super-fit’ cop. You should be able to run 4.8 km, do 100 push-ups, 100 abdominal crunches and 20 chin-ups – in less than 45 minutes. There are two categories – below 45 years of age and above 45. This is the incentive proposed by the SRP to promote and reward fitness among police personnel. The criteria for women personnel are not known. The standards are along the pattern of the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) of the United States Marine Corps (USMC). SRP has 23,000 personnel and this incentive is for all ranks from constables to police inspectors. Unfit personnel are often assigned only desk jobs. Among the choice postings are the Chief Minister’s security detail and the Chetak commando unit. Some others prefer being posted closer to their home towns. (04-08-2019)
Statue of Unity shortlisted for 'Structural Awards 2019': The UK-based Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) has shortlisted the Statue of Unity for the 'Structural Awards 2019'. The 182-metre-tall statue honouring Sardar Patel, inaugurated at Kevadia in Gujarat in October 2018, is among the 49 structures shortlisted for the award. The award recognises the ingenuity, creativity and skill of structural engineers all over the world. The Statue of Unity was designed by Ram Suthar and built by Larsen and Toubro (L&T). (04-08-2019)
Electricity department begins restoring power to Barodians: In four rain-drenched days thousands of Barodians had to get by without electricity for anything from a few hours to a few days. By Saturday morning power was restored to 12,500 consumers, but 4,500 homes were still waiting for electricity. Over 90 teams were working to solve this problem. All 292 feeders of the city were charged, and just 117 of the 8,200 transformers centres (TCs) were pending to be restored. The pace of repairs was slow because work is highly dangerous in waterlogged areas. The city has 7,23,061 electricity consumers. (04-08-2019)
City is finding its feet again: As Vadodara begins to find its feet again, many residential societies, hutment colonies and roads remained submerged in flood waters. The district administration is still on its toes and preparing to face another bout of flooding in the river because more rains have been forecast for Saturday. Over 6,100 persons have been evacuated and shifted to safer areas over the last few days. At the same time, de-watering teams are busy in societies that had been flooded in Sama, Akota, Sayajigunj, Kalali, Vadsar, Warasiya, Karelibaug, Alkapuri, Mujmahuda. The Gujarat chief minister has announced a compensation of Rs. 4 lakh for the next of kin of those who died in rain-related incidents. The death toll has touched eight. The disrupted rail services will take some time to get back to normal. Over 26 trains are fully or partially cancelled. (03-08-2019)
The rain eases a bit, but the city keeps its fingers crossed: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) had to release water from Ajwa Lake on Thursday and most of the low-lying areas along the Vishwamitri river started getting submerged in water. Many residential colonies and hutments were severely affected. The authorities were trying their best to move people to safer areas, with prompt help from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF). Two columns of the Indian Army were pressed into service, and two Indian Air Force helicopters were kept on standby at Vadodara airport. Over 30 specialist teams were requisitioned from other cities. Considering the fierce surprise that nature brought to the city the emergency services did a fairly good job of helping people to cope with the flooded city. The people evacuated from the flooded areas were shifted to temporary shelters in government schools. Several organisations delivered food packets for those made homeless.

When the rain relaxed a bit on Friday the citizens and the city began limping back to normal, but everyone is hoping that the rain does not return with the same fury. Schools and colleges continued to be closed. While thousands of people were busy putting their lives and their belongings together again, hundreds of others were busy on sightseeing trips of the flooded areas. Electricity is being gradually restored to areas where power lines had tripped. Milk continues to be in short supply. Though Baroda Dairy sent out 4.6 lakh litres of milk, the vans could not get to all the areas and 70,000 litres had to come back, undelivered, to the dairy. Even tractors were roped in to supply milk to several retail outlets. Taking advantage of the shortage, the unscrupulous sold loose milk at an inflated price of Rs. 50 per litre. As with the rest of the city, the Vadodara railway station also saw some unusually hectic activity. With cancelled trains and delayed arrivals and departures, hundreds of passengers were stranded on the station – which was a dry island mostly surrounded by water. Indian Railways are fairly good at setting up emergency infrastructure and stranded passengers could easily get food and drinking water. Special arrangements were made to transport passengers to their homes in the city. The Sayajibaug zoo was affected too, with water three feet deep in some parts. Though the zoo’s inmates have been somewhat disturbed by the rain, they do not seem to have been unduly harmed. Sayajibaug’s beautiful gardens, however, have been slightly messed up by the heavy dose of water, and they will require some time to get back to normal. (02-08-2019)
Vadodara now hopes that the rain will take it easy: Vadodara was drenched – and in places flooded – by 17 inches of rain in just six hours on Wednesday between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. All traffic – vehicular and pedestrian – was totally disrupted. Knee-deep water on the roads was the norm rather than the exception. Residential colonies and commercial areas in Karelibaug, Gorwa, Waghodia Road, Sayajigunj, Sama, Gotri, Makarpura, Dabhoi Road, Alkapuri, Samta and Akota were quite inaccessible, even on foot. Many two-wheelers and four-wheelers had to be abandoned on the roads. The Vadodara airport has been shut down. All schools and colleges and MS University will remain closed today. The courts will also be closed. Rail traffic has been affected. The water levels in the Vishwamitri River and the Ajwa Reservoir are being closely monitored by the authorities. People in low-lying areas have been advised to shift to safer areas. (01-08-2019)
Heavy rain catches Vadodara by surprise: Vadodara – the city, the residents, the emergency services, the administration – have been caught off guard by the unprecedented fury of rain which hit the city today. Hundreds of school and college students and office goers were stranded where they were, many of them on the roads. Roads were heavily waterlogged and water flowed into many housing societies and shops. The administration swung into action and began evacuating people in low-lying areas. Many had to walk for over an hour or two to reach home. Several vehicles had to be abandoned on the roads. Over 50 trees have been uprooted. (31-07-2019)
Gujarat has high number of waterborne disease cases: According to 2018 data tabled recently in the Lok Sabha Gujarat ranks among the top 10 in India in waterborne diseases. The state reported more cases of cholera, acute diarrhoeal disease and viral hepatitis compared to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – states which normally have worse figures in health services. Enteric fever or typhoid was the only water-borne illness where Gujarat fared better than these states. Gujarat ranked fourth in the country in cholera cases, sixth in diarrhoea cases, ninth for hepatitis cases and 10th for typhoid cases. One possible reason for the increase in water-borne diseases is the use of plastic pipes; such pipes often get damaged due to extreme heat and this increases the chances of contamination. (30-07-2019)
Charutar Arogya Mandal will now be ‘Bhaikaka University’: With over 40 years of experience in medical education and health care, Karamsad based Charutar Arogya Mandal (CAM) has been granted the status of a private university. The Gujarat assembly has approved a bill to change CAM into a private university with the name ‘Bhaikaka University’. The private university will maintain all existing educational programmes and start academic programmes in more medical specialities. Charutar Arogya Mandal (CAM) is a registered society and a public trust established in 1972 by Dr. H.M. Patel, former finance and home minister of India. The 100-acre CAM campus includes a Medical Council of India recognised medical college (Pramukhswami Medical College), an 800-bed hospital, an institute of postgraduate studies, a school of nursing, a college of physiotherapy, an institute of medical technology, a cardiac centre and a cancer centre. These institutions have around 1,300 students enrolled in 57 different courses. It is the established policy at CAM that no patient will be denied treatment for want of money. (30-07-2019)
Man booked for allowing his cows to stray in public areas: The Ahmedabad city police recently booked a man on the charge of attempt to culpable homicide because he had left five cows on a road, thus endangering the lives of commuters. The FIR was filed by a sanitary sub-inspector of the cattle and nuisance control department (CNCD) of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). The man also tried to prevent the concerned municipal officials and police personnel from carrying out their duty of putting the cows in a caged trailer. He was booked under various sections: attempt to commit culpable homicide, negligent conduct with respect to animals, utterance of obscene words, obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions, criminal intimidation, failing to provide animals with sufficient food, drink or shelter, abandoning animals in circumstances that they will suffer pain by starvation or thirst, allowing cattle to stray in any street or to trespass in public or private property. (29-07-2019)
Bus conductor nabbed pilfering Rs. 9, loses Rs. 15 lakh: A bus conductor attached to the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) was nabbed trying to pocket an amount of Rs. 9, the price of a ticket that he did not issue to a passenger. GSRTC started disciplinary proceedings against him and handed out the punishment: reduction of his pay scale to two stages below his existing pay, and his pay fixed to this amount for the rest of his service with GSRTC. He has 37 years of service left, so no further salary increments means that he will end up losing Rs. 15 lakh over his service years with the employer. This punishment may appear to be disproportionately stiff, but the conductor is a habitual offender who has done something similar on 35 previous occasions. The punishment was handed out by an industrial tribunal and later upheld by the Gujarat high court. It was his persistent misconduct, rather than the theft of Rs. 9, that clipped Rs. 15 lakh off his future earnings. (29-07-2019)
Environment activists object to large statues in the city’s lakes: Environment activists are advising against the installation of large statues in the city’s lakes. They have written to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) that installing tall statues – and islands – in the lakes is environmentally disastrous. Such statues cause concretisation of the water bodies and harm them. The size of the water bodies is also reduced. The interconnectivity of the lakes, done during the time of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III for flood and water management, is being disturbed. Concrete structures at lakes like Sama, Wadi and Chhani will reduce the underground water recharging and the availability of water. The activists are disturbed about the environmental implications of two proposed projects – a 108-foot tall idol of Lord Hanuman at Wadi and a 100-foot tall idol of Lord Parshvanath at Sama lake. The activists have also asked VMC to give due consideration to the Gujarat high court which in 2000 had directed the state government to maintain and preserve all the water bodies in the state which are identified as per the development plans and town planning schemes. Some activists suggest that VMC should instead work on water harvesting projects that improve the underground water table. (29-07-2019)
Government offers land parcels at 50% discount in Dholera SIR: The Gujarat government is offering land parcels at 50% discount in the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR). The objective is to encourage industries to set up units in Dholera SIR. The area is 100 km from Ahmedabad. The current base price at Dholera SIR is Rs. 2,750 per square metre; the discount is being offered on this price. Tata Chemicals, for its proposed Lithium-ion battery manufacturing unit, has been given 126 acres at a 50% discount. It seems that this discount offer will be limited to the first few anchor clients, and after some time land may be a premium. Dholera SIR may take another five years to get populated. An international airport is being developed at Dholera; it may be called New Ahmedabad Airport. (28-07-2019)
Gold is old, invest in a good club: In the 10 years between March 31, 2009 and March 31, 2019 the value of a membership in an Ahmedabad club appreciated by over 500%. In the same period, gold appreciated only by about 107%. The club membership glittered more than gold did! Assuming that you are able to legally and easily sell or transfer a club membership, clubs are an attractive investment option. The buyer will of course have to pay a transfer fee, plus the applicable GST. Between 2009 and 2019, the fees at Rajpath Club went up from Rs. 4.5 lakh to Rs. 30 lakh, and at Karnavati Club from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh. (28-07-2019)
The times are bad for Morbi’s clocks: Morbi was once famous for its clocks. It still is, but the demand is falling and the industry is in trouble. Several reasons are being advanced for the slide, the main ones being competition from China as well as other parts of India. The demand for Morbi’s clocks has dipped by over 30%, and daily clock production has dropped from 1.75 lakh to 1 lakh. The industry employs about 18,000 people, 90% of them being women. The industry now works for only 20 days a month and wages have been cut by 25%. Most of the units are in the small-scale sector. Morbi, also known as Morvi, literally means City of Peacocks. It is about 60 km from Rajkot. Endowed with great natural beauty and a colourful history, this town is home to the famous clock makers Ajanta and Orpat, among hundreds of others. Morbi is also known for its ceramic industries. (28-07-2019)
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