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Get your FASTag latest by November 30: As of December 1, 2019,  the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has made the FASTag – a prepaid tag facility which debits the toll amount from one’s bank account – mandatory for all vehicles, private and public. Under the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme all collection will happen only via the FASTag. This move aims to achieve cashless toll collection and enable the fast movement of vehicles across toll plazas. Each vehicle you own must have its own FASTag. When your FASTag enabled vehicle crosses a FASTag enabled lane on a toll plaza, an automatic deduction from your bank account will take place, and you will receive an SMS alert on your registered mobile number This will apply to all the National highways and a selected few State highways, to begin with, but by March 2020, it will apply to all State highways. FASTags have unlimited validity and need to be changed only if they become unreadable due to wear and tear. In such a case, fresh FASTags need to be purchased. In case you lose your FASTag, it must be reported immediately to the place where it was purchased from.

What is a FASTag?
* It is a rechargeable prepaid vehicles tag that is radio-frequency identification (RFID) enabled.
* Vehicles possessing the tag can pass through toll plazas as they automatically scan the FASTag to collect toll digitally.
* It seems that toll plazas across the country have been upgraded with necessary arrangements to enable the automatic deduction of toll.
* The government plans to give a 2.5 per cent cashback offer for the year 2019-2020 for those using the FASTag.
* Your FASTag account can be recharged using a debit card, credit card, netbanking, etc.
* If your vehicle was manufactured and purchased after December 1, 2017, then it would already be fitted with the FASTag.
* There are 22 certified banks from where one can buy the FASTag.
* Some of the National highways will also allow people the option of purchasing the FASTags.
* They are also available on some e-commerce platforms.

What documents do you need to submit?
* A copy of the Registration Certificate of the vehicle
* Two passport size photographs
* Other KYC documents necessary for address and ID proof such as PAN card, Voter ID, Driver’s License, Passport or Aadhaar.

What happens if your vehicle does not have a FASTag?
If you enter a FASTag-enabled lane without getting a FASTag active, you will be charged double the amount of toll fee and will have to pay by cash. (22-11-2019)
Great Indian Bustard is critically endangered: Considering that the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is critically endangered India’s environment ministry will declare its habitats as conservation reserves. It seems that only 150 GIBs are left in India, and 90 per cent of them are found in Rajasthan and Gujarat. According to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) the GIBs are dying at the rate of 15 per cent per. Their population has reduced by 75 per cent in the last 30 years. The mortality of adult GIBs is high due to collisions with power lines that criss-cross their flying path. All bustards are prone to collision due to their poor frontal vision and inability to see the power lines from a distance. Power companies in the habitat areas may have to place high-voltage power lines underground so that the birds can avoid the danger. (22-11-2019)
Too many people use phones while driving: There are too many people in Gujarat who are violating the law regarding the use of mobile phones while driving. This irresponsible behaviour led to 187 deaths in Gujarat in 2018, against 59 deaths in 2017 and 54 in 2016. Gujarat occupies the sixth position in India in fatalities in road accidents resulting from talking on mobile phones. Of the 460 such accidents in 2018 the fatality rate was 40%. Compared to this figure, the fatality rate was 29% while jumping a red signal (29%) and 37% while driving on the wrong side. Road safety experts say that drivers switch lanes more frequently and drive unpredictably when they are distracted while talking on phones. (22-11-2019)
Drunken driving accidents have increased in Gujarat: There has been an increase in the number of accidents caused by drunken driving in Gujarat. Such accidents have declined across India. Gujarat is a dry state, and such accidents increased by 65% between 2016 and 2018 – 64 cases in 2016, 65 in 2017 and 106 in 2018. Across India, the figure fell from 14,894 in 2016 to 12,018 in 2018. The number of cases in major states and those bordering Gujarat – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc. – have decreased between 2016 and 2018. (21-11-2019)
State grants Rs. 40 crore for new MSU infrastructure: The Gujarat government has sanctioned Rs. 40 crore to improve the infrastructure facilities at MS University of Baroda. Three hostel buildings will be built – for male students, for female students and for foreign students – at a cost of Rs 7.70 crore each. The Polytechnic College building will be expanded at a cost of Rs. 12.5 crore, and Rs. 5 crore will be spent to carry out repairs at the existing hostels for boys and girls. The state government sanctioned the grants after a detailed presentation by university officials at Gandhinagar. The existing hostels – 12 for boys and 4 for girls – are unable to meet the increasing demand. The hostels have  a total capacity of 3,200 students, and 4,000 students have to be squeezed in with the help of bunk beds. Foreign students are presently allowed to use the university’s staff quarters. (21-11-2019)
Plastic waste management centre to be set up at Surat: The Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology (CIPET), run by the Union petroleum ministry, will set up plastic waste management centres in four cities – Surat, Benaras, Bengaluru and Patna. The union government will give a basic grant of Rs. 6 crore for each centre. The Surat Municipal Corporation will help to make the infrastructure on its land and essentially work as a research centre and clear plastic waste from urban spaces. It will be responsible for all activities needed to reduce the harmful effects of plastic waste. The centre will reuse 3 tonnes of plastic waste in its plant, function like an institute to help new start-ups with the new technology and impart training on plastic management. Surat generates 1,800 MT of solid waste daily – and 10 per cent of it is plastic waste. The city recycles about 35 MT of plastic at its plant at Bhatar. (21-11-2019)
Roads are dangerous for pedestrians in Gujarat: The ‘Road Accidents in India - 2018’ report released by the transport research wing of the Union road transport ministry reveals that three pedestrians are killed every day in accidents in Gujarat. Of 7,996 fatalities in 7,176 accidents, 1,170 victims were pedestrians and 130 were cyclists. Pedestrians and cyclists account for 16.25% of the fatalities. Compared to 2017, the pedestrian deaths increased by nearly 19%. According to an official of the Ahmedabad Traffic Consultative Committee, pedestrians are at greater risk in the state. One of the reasons for this is the many encroachments on footpaths which often force pedestrians into the roads and into the path of moving vehicles. All over the world, pedestrians are considered to be the most vulnerable road-user group and their protection is supposed to be given the highest priority. The Motor Vehicle Driving Regulations give the first right to pedestrians at uncontrolled pedestrian crossings, but this provision is neither respected nor enforced. (20-11-2019)
Ahmedabad’s middle-class citizens avoid buses: A study done by students of CEPT University shows that only 11% of middle-class citizens in Ahmedabad regularly use public transport. Another finding is that vehicle ownership has gone up to one vehicle for every two persons. The study involved a survey of 4,800 middle-class households in an area of 150 sq km. An average trip takes about 20 minutes; for shorter trips, two-wheelers are preferred. What discourages people from using buses is the problem of last-mile connectivity. Data available with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) shows that the number of AMTS and BRTS users had gone down by 25%. An average of 6 lakh persons used public transport, even though the public transport network has extended and the number of buses has increased. According to an expert, less than half of the major city roads have footpaths. Also, the parts of the city with smaller block sizes encourage more citizens to walk. Ahmedabad has among the highest per capita two-wheeler numbers in India. The city has at least one vehicle per household. (20-11-2019)
Extended monsoon hits salt production in Gujarat: Gujarat, India’s largest salt producing state, will see a production drop of about 30% because the salt-making window has shrunk by 100 days due to unseasonal rains and the extended monsoon. The average season in Gujarat lasts for 10 months, from September to June. Effectively, the producers will get only five months this year. The state’s output will go down to 150 tonnes in 2019-20, against 230 lakh tonnes the previous year. This has been estimated by the Indian Salt Manufacturers Association (ISMA). The major salt producing centres are in Kutch, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Amreli, south Gujarat, Maliya and Morbi. The consumption of edible salt in India is 90 lakh tonnes, so the low supply this year will not affect edible salt prices, but exports, however, may be adversely affected. (20-11-2019)
Food rates increased on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express trains: The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has revised the food rates applicable for meals on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express, as well as on other Express trains. The morning tea on these trains will cost Rs. 35 (earlier Rs. 15) in the first AC and executive chair car coaches, and Rs. 20 (earlier Rs. 10) in the 2nd AC, 3rd AC and chair car coaches. The rate for morning tea will be Rs. 15 in the sleeper class of Duronto trains. The price of evening tea, which includes snacks, cookies and a pot of tea, has been revised from Rs. 75 to Rs. 140 in the first class and executive cars. These charges were last revised in 2012 and 2013. (19-11-2019)
Andhra Pradesh seeks IIM’s help to curb corruption: The government of Andhra Pradesh is wanting to take the help of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) to curb corruption in the state’s administration. IIM-A will look into the structural issues in the state government’s departments – in relation to corruption – and recommend measures to tackle these issues. The focus will of course be on those government departments that are generally prone to corruption – revenue, police, municipal bodies, etc. Can’t the politicians themselves fix the problem? (19-11-2019)
Sewage treatment plants crippled by electricity costs: There are 170 municipalities across Gujarat and many of them have sewage treatment plants (STPs) which are no longer functioning. These STPs are run using conventional electrical energy. The state government’s urban development department has now launched a pilot project to run STPs in eight municipalities and water treatment plants (WTPs) in 15 towns on solar energy instead of the conventional electrical energy. Most of the STPs in the urban local bodies (ULCs) have been affected by high power bills and poor electricity management. It seems municipalities owe about Rs. 300 crore to state-run power distribution companies. The eight municipalities included in the pilot project treat a total of 1,770 crore litres of water through their STPs. (19-11-2019)
Insurance company rejects claim for restoknee surgery: An Ahmedabad resident went through a restoknee surgery in 2018 to treat osteoarthritis in his right knee. He spent Rs. 3 lakh for the treatment, but the insurance company rejected his claim maintaining that restoknee surgery is an unproven and experimental treatment for which a claim cannot be entertained. The patient approached the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum in Ahmedabad. The court held that restoknee is not an ordinary therapy but is a surgery undertaken by a specialist doctor in an operation theatre. The insurer was ordered to pay the claim to the patient, plus Rs. 13,000 extra towards compensation for harassment and legal expenditure. (18-11-2019)
GMB and GSFC form joint venture: The state government’s Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and Gujarat State Fertilisers & Chemicals Ltd. (GSFC) have set up a joint venture special purpose vehicle (SPV) – Gujarat Port and Logistics Company Ltd. – to develop ports and logistics facilities. Multimodal logistics parks will be created in Ahmedabad, Surat, Kosamba, Valsad, Rajkot and other appropriate locations. The joint venture may also take up other activities from time to time, as decided by its board. (18-11-2019)
Charotar University introduces paperless examination system: Changa-based Charotar University of Science and Technology (CHARUSAT) has introduced a paperless digital examination system. This has been done for the first time in Gujarat. Over 2,000 first year students have appeared for examinations conducted online. Students are given e-tablets in which hall tickets are provided along with question papers. Answers, given using the tablet, are automatically stored on a cloud platform. The evaluation is online and results can be quickly declared. The examinations were arranged for students of 10 colleges and 1,000 e-tablets were used for the purpose. Student authentication is done with biometrics and iris recognition. Students appearing for different subjects, in diverse fields, can sit for their examinations in the same classroom. Students can also check their answer books online after the examinations. The university will use this system for second and third year students too. (18-11-2019)
Unregistered association cannot make RERA complaint: The Gujarat Real Estate Appellate Tribunal has ruled that a group of residents which wants to file a complaint with the Gujarat Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) against a builder must be a registered association first. In the absence of such registration, the residents or allottees of the houses can file complaints in an individual capacity or through a power of attorney. Residents of a newly constructed housing scheme should insist that the builder must form and register the association as soon as possible so that they can formally file a complaint about the project with RERA. Without a registered association, RERA cannot entertain the complaint of a group. (17-11-2019)
Amusement park to pay VMC for improper use of water connection: The AATAPI Wonderland Theme Park has been asked by Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) to shell out Rs. 86.4 lakh for water used by it from the Ajwa reservoir. This follows a notice issued to it by the civic body regarding an improper water connection from the Ajwa pipeline. It seems that VMC had to provide free water only for the maintenance of the garden at the theme park (the theme park is located where VMC’s Ajwa Garden once stood). VMC pointed out that the theme park also drew water for commercial use from the same connection. VMC assumed that half of the water was used for commercial purposes, calculated the amount accordingly and added a penalty component; this added up to Rs. 86.4 lakh. (17-11-2019)
Surat-Mumbai weekly ferry service starts operations: The Surat-Mumbai weekly ferry service has started operations from Hazira. Mumbai based SSR Marine Services has been approved by the Gujarat Government and the ministry of shipping to operate cruise vessels between Surat and Mumbai. The terminal for the ferry has been built by Essar Bulk Terminal Ltd. (EBTL), a division of port and terminal developer Essar Ports. The ferry will depart from Bandra Worli sealink every Thursday at 5 p.m. and arrive at Hazira on Friday at 9 a.m. On the return trip the ferry will depart from Hazira on Friday at 5 p.m. and reach Bandra Worli sealink at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Unlike other ferries, this is a leisure trip which offers fun throughout the night. The three-deck vessel can handle 250 passengers. The ticket rates are between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 5,000. The Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked the government to restart the Ghogha-Dahej ferry service. (17-11-2019)
Plan for public toilet outside Jewish cemetery scrapped: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) recently decided to construct a public toilet right outside the boundary wall of Nizampura’s Jewish cemetery. Some of the graves in this cemetery date back to 1850 AD. Possibly through someone’s oversight the historical importance of the site and the community’s sentiments were overlooked. The ‘Friends of Israel’ authorities have in fact been trying to turn the site into a heritage spot and perhaps build an Indo-Israel cultural centre there. VMC authorities have subsequently cancelled the toilet project, and the authorities will build a protective wall around the cemetery. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Vadodara have also proposed that a pavilion of peace and friendship can be made here. Under the forthcoming Vadodara-Ashkelon twin city pact, efforts may also be made to build an Indo-Israeli cultural centre at the cemetery. The cemetery is the resting place of the earliest German Jews and the Benne Israelis from the court of the Gaekwads. (16-11-2019)
Police imposters caught in Fatehgunj: Two men dressed up in police uniforms were merrily posing as police personnel and collecting ‘fines’ from commuters on the road near a petrol pump in Nizampura on Friday. They confidently asked the commuters to show documents such as driving licences and PUC certificates. Their act ended when some commuters became suspicious and called in the real cops. The Fatehgunj police reached the spot and arrested the duo. The accused told the cops that they planned the scheme to earn some quick and easy money. Officials are now busy asking the crooks how they managed to get traffic police uniform. (16-11-2019)
Global convention on migratory species at Gandhinagar: Gandhinagar will be the venue for a global convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals from February 17 to 22, 2020. The invitation has been extended by the government of India. In addition to other migratory and endangered species, the Asian elephant and the great Indian bustard will also be discussed for the first time. India will be hosting the international conference for the first time. It will be attended by over 1,500 delegates – representing national governments, international organisations, scientists, conservation groups and wildlife experts. India has sought inclusion of the Asian elephant on the global list of endangered species. Among the several interesting topics to be discussed: light pollution guidelines for wildlife including marine turtles, seabirds and migratory shorebirds; renewable energy and migratory species; power lines and migratory birds; pesticide prevalence; land-use policies. (16-11-2019)
Civic body measures air quality index in several areas: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has now installed equipment to measure the air quality index (AQI) and the presence of pollutants in the city. The equipment has been installed at several locations in the city. It has been found that the quality of air in some areas is disappointing; these areas have an AQI of more than 200. While the AQI is moderate in most areas, it is poor in Kalali Road and very poor in Gorwa. In addition to the inversion – causing pollutants to be trapped close to the ground – associated with the onset of winter, there are the problems of vehicle emissions and dust generated by ongoing construction and road digging activities. The AQI measuring equipment is claimed to be state-of-the-art and citizens can see the data on their phones. (15-11-2019)
Ahmedabad continues drive against mosquito breeding sites: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) sealed several educational institutions in the city on Thursday after inspection revealed mosquito breeding sites on their properties. By now AMC health teams have issued notices to 81 schools and colleges after checking 747; fines amounting Rs. 1.57 lakh have been slapped on establishments which took inadequate steps to eliminate mosquito breeding sites. In addition to private institutions AMC also acted against the civic body’s own schools. AMC had organised a major drive in the city’s schools to create awareness about the perils associated with the mosquito menace and vector-borne diseases. Mosquito breeding sites can be anywhere: open water tanks, scrap heaps, cellars, terraces, bird feeders, etc. (15-11-2019)
Maiden journey of cruise from Mumbai to Diu: Over 350 passengers from Mumbai arrived in Diu in the maiden cruise on Thursday. The cruise is India’s first multi-destination cruise, with stops at ports in Mumbai, Goa, Diu, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Muscat. The cruise is expected to carry over 1,600 passengers. It has 837 cabins. The tourism department expects to run at least two trips a month from Mumbai to Diu. The cruise reached Diu at 8 a.m. and left for Mumbai at 6 p.m. (15-11-2019)
Railway line to Statue of Unity will be ready soon: The 78-km railway line between Vadodara and the Statue of Unity (SoU) at Kevadia Colony is likely to be opened on October 31, 2020. The new links which are being laid are the 18-km Dabhoi-Chandod stretch and the 32-km stretch between Chandod and Kevadia Colony. The deadline has been brought forward from December 2020 to October 31, 2020 (the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel). Work is going on for the railway station at Kevadia Colony. The railway station – 5 km from the Statue of Unity – will cost about Rs. 20 crore. (14-11-2019)
Vadodara People’s Heritage Festival begins on November 19: The Vadodara People’s Heritage Festival will celebrate the city’s 508th ‘birthday’ and applaud its heritage during National Heritage Week which is celebrated across India between November 19 and 25. A series of interesting activities – informative exhibitions, heritage and nature walks, rickshaw tours, home museums, illustrated talks, etc. – have been planned. This year there are more than 45 events that Barodians can participate in. The Heritage Week is completely self-sponsored and self-financed. (14-11-2019)
Gujarat will close RTO border check-posts: Gujarat will shut down its 16 Regional Transport Office (RTO) check-posts along its borders with Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh from November 20. The objective is to stop corruption, reduce traffic congestion and promote the ease of doing business. An online system is likely to be introduced to collect taxes and other fees wherever applicable. An online system will of course eliminate traffic jams at check-posts and reduce transportation time. More than 90 lakh vehicles move through the state’s 16 check- posts, and the revenue collected from them is about Rs. 332 crore every year. (14-11-2019)
Gujarat’s maternal mortality rate improved marginally: Gujarat’s maternal mortality rate (MMR) has improved from 6.4 for 2014-16 to 6 for 2015-17. These figures are from the report of the Sample Registration System (SRS) of Census of India. The sample size was 3.65 lakh women in the age group of 15 to 49 years. The national average of MMR was 8.1. Kerala was the best performer with an MMR of 1.9; Uttar Pradesh was the worst with 20.1. (13-11-2019)
Scooter-sharing industry prospering in India: India is the number one country in the world in the scooter-sharing industry. The country has a fleet size of over 20,000 scooters available on rent, and almost the entire fleet is in Bengaluru. The reasons for the growth of scooters in Bengaluru are traffic congestion and the flexibility of two-wheelers to weave in and out of traffic. A German manufacturer of electric scooters says that Bengaluru is perhaps the world’s scooter sharing capital. Against India’s 20,000 scooters available on rent the other significant players are Spain (13,520), France (8,200) and Italy (5,150). There was a 164 per cent increase in 2019 in the number of scooters in the scooter-sharing industry; almost half of this growth was in India. While most scooters in this sector outside India are electricity powered, scooters in India usually run on petrol. (13-11-2019)
Hostel likely at Sama indoor sports complex: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation Sports Promotion Foundation (VSPF) – a joint venture of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation and Sports Authority of Gujarat for the sports complexes in Vadodara – is planning to build a hostel facility at the Sama indoor sports complex. In the 2018-19 budget VSPF was given funds to the tune of Rs. 6.7 crore to make a suitably designed hostel for sportspersons coming to the city for a variety of sports events. (13-11-2019)
Gujarat will encourage international cruises: International cruise ships may soon come calling at several tourist locations along Gujarat’s long coastline. Some spots on the tourist list are Dwarka, Somnath and Porbandar. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Lakshadweep are among the important cruise destinations identified by the ministry of shipping. It is likely that Angriya cruises will shortly start operations between Mumbai and Diu. Cruise services are also proposed between Dahej and Mumbai. A cruise circuit linking Porbandar, Dwarka, Veraval, Diu and Daman is being considered. The Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) has issued tenders for the construction of cruise terminals at the five ports of Mundra, Mandvi, Okha, Veraval and Jamnagar. The ministry is working on e-visas, on-arrival visas at these locations and single e-landing cards with validity at all ports along the cruise itinerary. (12-11-2019)
Unholy ‘collaboration’ between pathology laboratory and doctor: Recent reports describe an unholy ‘collaboration’ between a shady pathology laboratory employee and a private doctor who is perhaps deficient in ethics – medical or otherwise. The laboratory is in Vadu village of Padra taluka; it seems that it has three branches in Vadodara.  An audio clip has surfaced in which the laboratory employee offers a 40 % commission to the doctor, and even suggests that the pathology report can be tailored to the doctor’s desire – typhoid, malaria or any other ailment of the doctor’s choice. Vadodara district health officials have now of course sealed the laboratory. Not surprisingly, not too many people are surprised or excessively shocked by this story. It is a sad reflection of the times that most people feel that ‘such things happen quite frequently’. Perhaps the ‘ailment of choice’ pathology report may be a bit surprising, but the commission bit is nothing new. (12-11-2019)
MS University may hire a private agency to improve its ratings: MS University (MSU) has decided to float bids and hire a private professional agency for proper documentation in order to improve its National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) ranking and scores. MSU will soon have to go through the NAAC re-accreditation process. NAAC is the autonomous body of the University Grants Commission that accreditates all higher education institutes in India. MSU also wants to improve its scores in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) which is released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). MSU’s tender notice states that the purpose is to provide support for getting and improving NAAC accreditation and improving scores in various rating systems (NIRF, GSIRF, THE, QS, etc). (12-11-2019)
Fire breaks out at Centre Square Mall, controlled quickly: A fire broke out on Sunday evening at Centre Square Mall near the Rhino Circle (Genda Circle). The fire affected a fashion store on the mall’s ground floor. While the blaze was quickly contained and the mall was completely evacuated, smoke continued to come out of the shop. There were no injuries reported. All movie shows at the mall’s multiplex were cancelled and the cinema halls were urgently evacuated. The reason why the fire was controlled immediately was that the fire control system was fully functional and the water sprinklers did their job. The cause of the fire is not yet known. (11-11-2019)
Gujarat government wants to promote multidisciplinary courses: A five-member team of experts has suggested that Gujarat’s universities should also offer courses based on interdisciplinary subjects. Interdisciplinary studies involve the combining of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (for example, a research project). Such courses draw knowledge from several fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, etc. It is about creating something by thinking across boundaries. For instance, arts can be mixed with physics. The expert team had proposed an action plan for quality enhancement of the state’s universities. This recommendation is likely to be implemented from the 2020-21 academic year. The expert committee was headed by Mr. A.U. Patel, advisor, Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat. Students may also be allowed to tailor-make their own courses. Educational systems seem to serve students best if they enable and encourage students to build their own interdisciplinary pathways. A simple example would be where students have learned some statistical skills in mathematics and the geography teacher encourages them to apply this knowledge to their geography coursework. (11-11-2019)
MCQ based examinations proposed for state universities: The state government is looking at the possibility of having term-end MCQ based examinations in line with the National Competitive Tests. Evaluation should seek to assess the skills and knowledge of students instead of requiring them to memorise and reproduce information. Professional skills – ability to communicate, teamwork, lifelong learning – are now important for graduates to be employable. Written examinations assess a limited range of outcomes and cognitive levels. This is among the ideas proposed to reform the examination system of state universities. Other recommendations are a continuous evaluation system and limiting university examinations to a maximum of three weeks. There should be a wide range of assessment methods – term papers, open-ended problem-solving assignments, group discussions, paper submissions – to evaluate learning outcomes. (11-11-2019)
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Three schools asked to pay more rent to civic body: Three major Vadodara schools are facing a tough situation because the lease rents payable by them to Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) have been increased steeply. The schools are functioning on land leased to them by VMC, and the revised lease rates are very high. The schools are Tejas Vidyalaya (run by Uday Education Society), Maharani School (run by Kelavani Trust) and New Era Secondary School (run by Gujarat New Era Education Trust). They were given land for 30 years at a token lease amount. When the leases expired in 2008, the revised rates were apparently unaffordable. Tejas Vidyalaya will now have to pay Rs. 15.58 crore, including arrears, Maharani School Rs. 17.69 crore and New Era Secondary School Rs. 6.79 crore. Incidentally, a public interest litigation was filed in 2018 seeking higher lease amounts as per government rules. The schools have asked for some relief, but this has been denied by VMC. The civic body has decided not to charge any interest on the pending amounts. The schools will have to pay or vacate the premises. Tejas Vidyalaya has already decided to stop admitting new students in its nursery section. (10-11-2019)
Baroda Cricket T20 League proposed: The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) is taking a look at a proposal to stage a Baroda Premier League (BPL) in the city similar to the IPL T20 League. BCA is looking for a slot in the cricket calendar in consultation with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). In another development, BCA says it wants to host international matches again; the last one was the New Zealand-India one-day international match in 2010 at the city’s Reliance Stadium. BCA announced that it is working on the details of the proposed cricket stadium at Kotambi; help may be taken in this matter from the Gujarat Cricket Association stadium. (10-11-2019)
City’s high-rise fires may need borrowed equipment: Believe it or not, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) does not have a hydraulic elevated platform (HEP) to fight a fire in a high-rise building. In fact, it does have two HEPs – one can reach 30 metres and the other 44 metres – but both of them are currently not in working condition. Both of them have been rendered temporarily useless by rodents. The estimate for repairing is awaiting approval! It seems that some industries near Vadodara have HEPs, and these HEPs can be deployed by VMC in any emergency. (10-11-2019)
Customers permitted to check eatery kitchens: The Gujarat state Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA) has issued a notification to the effect that a customer should be allowed to enter the kitchen of a restaurant to check the quality of food ingredients and hygiene. The notification has been issued to all municipalities, municipal corporations and district-level food safety officers. The notification is applicable to all restaurants, hotels and canteens selling cooked food in Gujarat. Officials have been asked to remove notices such as ‘No admission without permission’. Also, the kitchen must have a glass door or window so that the customers can see the interior. The notification is a part of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. Gujarat may be the first state to take this step. Restaurants have been given two weeks to fall in line. The penalty for violating the rules is up to Rs. 1 lakh. While many restaurant owners appreciate the purpose behind this notification they are apprehensive about the implications. Unauthorised persons in the kitchen can at times prove to be a hygiene risk and also cause safety problems because of cramped kitchen spaces and burning stoves. A glass door may serve the same person and help the customer without inconveniencing the kitchen staff. (09-11-2019)
One more port at Bhavnagar: The Gujarat government has approved the construction of a Rs. 1,900-crore port adjacent to the Bhavnagar port. It will have a capacity of 6 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA). The existing port at Bhavnagar handles 3 MMTPA. The proposal by UK’s Foresight Group and Ahmedabad's Padmanabh Mafatlal group to set up a CNG and other terminals at the site was cleared by Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board (GIDB). The investment of Rs. 1,900 crore will be in two phases – Rs. 1,300 crore in the first phase and Rs. 600 crore in the second phase. (09-11-2019)
Poor pupil-teacher ratio in higher education in Gujarat: Gujarat’s higher education institutions do not have a very happy pupil-teacher ratio (PTR). PTR is the average number of students per teacher at a specific level of education in a given academic year. With a PTR of 24, the state ranks 26th among India’s 36 states and Union territories in the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19. There are only 10 states and Union territories which have a PTR worse than that of Gujarat. One reason for this is that there has not been any recruitment of lecturers and professors in the past three or four years. There are about 2,000 vacancies of professors and lecturers in grant-in-aid colleges. For instance, Shahjanand College in Ahmedabad had 46 professors a few years ago; today it has only 18 professors, and the number of students has gone up. (09-11-2019)
Not just phones, traffic police object to earphones too: Ahmedabad’s traffic cops say that even using earphones – not just phones – is not permissible while driving. They feel that using earphones while driving distracts the driver. A police officer explained that someone driving a two-wheeler with earphones on will not be able to sense vehicles outside his range of vision and will ignore horns resulting in accidents. The checking exercise continues vigorously in Ahmedabad; 1,300 traffic personnel and 1,200 traffic brigade jawans are manning over 200 traffic junctions. (08-11-2019)
Traffic offenders in Ahmedabad did not pay fines of about Rs. 60 crore: A study by students of the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Hyderabad has revealed that traffic offenders in Ahmedabad defaulted on penalties amounting to Rs. 60 crore between 2015 and 2019. This information was gathered from about three million e-challans issued by the Ahmedabad traffic police from 2015. The police department’s e-challan recovery wing recovers unpaid e-challans worth Rs. 3 lakh per day. The study – a course project by five students – found that 73 per cent of the e-challans were unpaid as of August 2019. Fines of lesser amounts (Rs. 100 and Rs. 50) were more likely to be paid as compared to those of higher amounts – 37.37 % of the Rs. 100 fines were paid compared to 15.44 % of the Rs. 2000 fines. The three million e-challans covered 11.77 lakh unique vehicles; RTO figures show that Ahmedabad has 40 lakh Ahmedabad-registered vehicles. E-challans for red-light violations (21 lakh) and riding without helmets (10 lakh) made up more than 87 % of the total e-challans. The study showed that 6 lakh individuals had more than two e-challans issued to them. (08-11-2019)
Global consultant roped in to sell Sabarmati riverfront land: International property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) has been selected by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to sell 500 acres of land reclaimed on the Sabarmati riverfront and thereby recover the Sabarmati riverfront development project cost of Rs. 1,400 crore. AMC also hopes to earn profits from the sale of land – it expects to earn about Rs. 3,500 crore. On sale are 51 plots totalling about 500 acres on both sides of the river. The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd. (SRFDCL) will use 86 % of the reclaimed land for public infrastructure, recreational parks, sports facilities and gardens; 14 % will be sold to private buyers to construct high-quality buildings. (08-11-2019)
VMC gets permission to cut illegal water connections: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation has decided to cut illegal water connections from all pipelines supplying water to the city from the Ajwa reservoir. Even the AATAPI Wonderland theme park has been issued a notice regarding the illegal connection from one such line. The subject of illegal connections from pipelines supplying water to the city from Ajwa was taken up by Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) with higher authorities at the state level. It seems that permission has been given to cut such illegal connections and initiate penal action against the lawbreakers. We fail to understand why any permission is required to cut any illegal connection and take the appropriate action. For instance, it was widely reported that the theme park had taken a six-inch diameter connection from a pipeline from Ajwa without getting permission from VMC. Then why should it be necessary for VMC to take permission to respond legally and appropriately? If A steals water from B, why should B need permission to act legally against A? (07-11-2019)
State government dignitaries get a new aircraft: The Gujarat government has bought a new Rs. 190-crore aircraft – a two-engine 'Bombardier Challenger 650' – for the chief minister and other VIPs such as the governor and deputy chief minister. To be delivered soon the 12-seater aircraft has a range of 7,000 km and can fly at 870 kmph; it can fly non-stop for 7.5 hours. It can begin operating after about two months – after clearances from Customs, DGCA and other authorities. The existing aircraft – a Beechcraft Super King turboprop – can take only nine passengers and has a shorter range, which is why a new aircraft was needed. (07-11-2019)
Centre asks Gujarat to speed up solar and wind park project in Kutch: New Delhi is actively prodding Gujarat to speed up the allocation of 60,000 hectares of land for the solar and wind park project in Kutch district. The park, which is expected to attract investment of about Rs. 1.35 lakh crore, is among the projects of national importance that are reviewed every month under the PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation) programme. Considering that the PRAGATI programme is monitored by the prime minister himself, Gujarat will have to act more quickly. The nodal agency for the implementation of the project is Gujarat Industries Power Company Ltd. (GIPCL). The park is expected to generate about 30,000 MW of solar and wind power. In addition to this, the state government also has a target of setting up renewable power generation capacity of 30,000 MW by 2022. (07-11-2019)
MS University completes green mapping of campus: MS University (MSU) has done green mapping of its 275-acre campus covering its 14 faculties in the city and its outskirts. The university campus was divided into 11 zones for the purpose. The exercise will help the university to plan its plantation drives and take up environmental conservation and anti-pollution activities. The mapping revealed that there are 4,338 individual trees – and 689 species – spread across the campus. GPS devices were used to record the location of each tree. Students and teachers of the Department of Botany and the Department of Environmental Studies participated in the survey. MSU is the first state university to carry out the green audit, an exercise which has now been made compulsory by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). The campus also has a nursery, an arboretum and a botanical garden. (06-11-2019)
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Get your FASTag latest by November 30 (22-11-2019)
Great Indian Bustard is critically endangered (22-11-2019)
Too many people use phones while driving (22-11-2019)
Drunken driving accidents have increased in Gujarat (21-11-2019)
State grants Rs. 40 crore for new MSU infrastructure (21-11-2019)
Plastic waste management centre to be set up at Surat (21-11-2019)
Roads are dangerous for pedestrians in Gujarat (20-11-2019)
Ahmedabad’s middle-class citizens avoid buses (20-11-2019)
Extended monsoon hits salt production in Gujarat (20-11-2019)
Food rates increased on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express trains (19-11-2019)
Andhra Pradesh seeks IIM’s help to curb corruption (19-11-2019)
Sewage treatment plants crippled by electricity costs (19-11-2019)
Insurance company rejects claim for restoknee surgery (18-11-2019)
GMB and GSFC form joint venture (18-11-2019)
Charotar University introduces paperless examination system (18-11-2019)
Unregistered association cannot make RERA complaint (17-11-2019)
Amusement park to pay VMC for improper use of water connection (17-11-2019)
Surat-Mumbai weekly ferry service starts operations (17-11-2019)
Plan for public toilet outside Jewish cemetery scrapped (16-11-2019)
Police imposters caught in Fatehgunj (16-11-2019)
Global convention on migratory species at Gandhinagar (16-11-2019)
Civic body measures air quality index in several areas (15-11-2019)
Ahmedabad continues drive against mosquito breeding sites (15-11-2019)
Maiden journey of cruise from Mumbai to Diu (15-11-2019)
Railway line to Statue of Unity will be ready soon (14-11-2019)
Vadodara People’s Heritage Festival begins on November 19 (14-11-2019)
Gujarat will close RTO border check-posts (14-11-2019)
Gujarat’s maternal mortality rate improved marginally (13-11-2019)
Scooter-sharing industry prospering in India (13-11-2019)
Hostel likely at Sama indoor sports complex (13-11-2019)
Gujarat will encourage international cruises (12-11-2019)
Unholy ‘collaboration’ between pathology laboratory and doctor (12-11-2019)
MS University may hire a private agency to improve its ratings (12-11-2019)
Fire breaks out at Centre Square Mall, controlled quickly (11-11-2019)
Gujarat government wants to promote multidisciplinary courses (11-11-2019)
MCQ based examinations proposed for state universities (11-11-2019)
Three schools asked to pay more rent to civic body (10-11-2019)
Baroda Cricket T20 League proposed (10-11-2019)
City’s high-rise fires may need borrowed equipment (10-11-2019)
Customers permitted to check eatery kitchens (09-11-2019)
One more port at Bhavnagar (09-11-2019)
Poor pupil-teacher ratio in higher education in Gujarat (09-11-2019)
Not just phones, traffic police object to earphones too (08-11-2019)
Traffic offenders in Ahmedabad did not pay fines of about Rs. 60 crore (08-11-2019)
Global consultant roped in to sell Sabarmati riverfront land (08-11-2019)
VMC gets permission to cut illegal water connections (07-11-2019)
State government dignitaries get a new aircraft (07-11-2019)
Centre asks Gujarat to speed up solar and wind park project in Kutch (07-11-2019)
MS University completes green mapping of campus (06-11-2019)
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