State news

Strong objections to power tariff hike plan

  • Domestic and commercial electricity consumers raised the issue of load-shedding at a public hearing on a proposed tariff hike by the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company on Friday and told the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission to reject the proposal till the time that Bescom improves service quality and ensured uninterrupted power.
  • The proposed tariff hike of Rs. 1.02 per unit was cited as essential to cover a revenue gap of Rs. 2,810 cr. for the financial year 2016-17. The company is also owed Rs. 524 cr. from the government as subsidy towards power supplied to irrigation pumpsets for financial year 2013-14. Around 60 objections were heard from trade bodies such as the FKCCI and the KASSIA and industries, farmers, domestic consumers and civic agencies.

State misses revenue targets

  • Ahead of the annual budget and with just one month to go for end of the financial year, the government falls short of realising the target it set for major revenue-earning departments such as commercial taxes, forest, transportation, mines and geology, revenue. The departments did not fare well if the figures are any indication.

LHB coaches on Chennai Express

  • Soon, those travelling between Mangaluru and Chennai can travel in comfort with the Southern Railway introducing LHB (Linke-Hofmann-Busch) coaches on Chennai Central-Mangaluru Central-Chennai Central Superfast Express.
  • LHB coaches are passenger coaches being used by the Indian Railways which have been developed by Linke-Hofmann-Bush of Germany, which was renamed Alstom LHB GmbH after it was taken over by Alstom.
  • The coaches are being produced at Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala.
  • The coaches are designed for operating speeds up to 160 kmph and are said to be anti-telescopic.
  • These coaches weigh relatively lighter, enabling the train to attain more speed.
  • They also have the advantage of providing more safety and better travelling comfort to passengers through improved cushioning effect.
  • The superfast express leaving Chennai Central would be equipped with LHB coaches on February 29, while its pairing train from Mangaluru would run with LHB coaches from March 1

Budget gives Bangalore short shrift

  • The city was a footnote in Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s budget that was presented .
  • While he acknowledged that the IT hub of the country was in need of a commuter rail system, there was little information on how it would be implemented apart from promises of ‘discussions with the State government’.
  • Prominent citizens and groups that were campaigning for a mass transport system termed the budget ‘disappointing’.
  • With a 19 per cent increase over the total outlay for Karnataka over last year, the Minister has allotted Rs. 2,779 crore to the State this year. Projects that will be taken up include doubling of the Netravati-Mangalore Central line as well as seven road-over-bridge and five road-under-bridge or subways.
  • For the city, the budget has sanctioned Rs 3 crore to set up Byappanahalli terminal and approved the launch of a pilot project for automatic signalling between Cantonment and Whitefield.

Mysuru’s rail infrastructure all set to get a push

  • Six of the nine major projects for the State approved in the Railway Budget are in Mysuru division, which is all set to give a fillip to rail infrastructure in the long run.
  • The new works for the Mysuru division include track-doubling of the 60-km Birur–Shivamogga stretch for Rs. 500 crore; a 236-km new line linking Nanjangud–Nilambur (in Kerala) at an estimated cost of Rs. 6,000 crore; Mysuru–Kushalnagar new line (Rs. 667 crore); new line between Talaguppa–Siddapura (Rs. 320 crore); another line linking Sakleshpur with Subramanya (Rs. 500 crore), and the Talaguppa–Honnavar stretch at an estimated cost of Rs. 2,500 crore.

STP a must even for small apartment complexes

  • Can sewage treatment plants (STPs) at almost every corner make a difference to a city overrun by sewage, and facing a shortage of water?
  • The State government has notified that every new apartment complex with more than 20 housing units, or commercial spaces above 2,000 sqm, should have an STP and must reuse the treated water.
  • Furthermore, any officer or civic authority found to have given permission to construct without an STP in their plans will be penalised, warns the Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment that has issued the gazette notification.

Snag forces two RTPS units to shut down

  • Units V and VI of Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS), with an installed capacity of 210 MW each, stopped power generation after they developed technical problem.
  • Leakage in boiler tubes of both the units forced them to stop operation.
  • With Unit VIII (with an installed capacity of 250 MW) also taken up for annual overhauling, only five of the eight units of the power station functioned.
  • While Units II, III, IV and VII were functioning normally with each generating around 180 MW power against their installed capacity of 210 MW, Unit I was generating only around 90 MW against its installed capacity of 210 MW.
  • Six functioning units of the power station added 28.64 million units of power to the State grid.

Stay on bigger pictorial warnings on tobacco packs lifted

  • The Karnataka High Court lifted the stay on enforcement of Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014 that was notified on October 15, 2014
  • The new rules enhanced the area for displaying health warning to 85 per cent from 50 per cent of the principal area on the packs of tobacco products.
  • Earlier the High Court had stayed the rules on a petition filed by the Karnataka Beedi Industry Association, which had questioned the legality of the rules.
  • However a direction had been issued by the Apex Court in 2009 asking the High Courts not to interfere in the implementation of Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008, and the matter is still pending before the Supreme Court.

Japan worried about safety of its students in Bangalore

  • The Head of the Consulate of Japan in Bengaluru has expressed concern about the safety of Japanese students in India. It is one of the reasons why they do not pursue their higher studies here
  • He did, however, say that Bengaluru was safer than most other cities in India, including Delhi.
  • The Head of the Consulate of Japan said on the sidelines of the Japan Habba, 2016 organised by the Japan Habba Trust in association with Bangalore University.
  • Recent events such as the attacks on international students and the violence against women had created a lot of buzz in Japan.

Fire in Bandipur tiger reserve

  • A large swathe of Bandipur Tiger Reserve was ravaged by a fire that raged for two days but has been stomped out by the Forest Department.The fire was seen in Kembepurahaadi in the Moleyuru range of the tiger reserve.
  • A departmental inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire and fix responsibility.
  • It is suspected that about 350 to 500 acres of forest land may have been burnt.
  • This is the first major fire reported from Bandipur, which has a history of fires ravaging forests, this year. The vegetation is bone-dry, water holes have dried up and there was very little moisture here
  • The extent of devastation is speculative and will be known only after conducting a GPS survey.
  • A similar survey had been conducted in 2013, when 1,500 hectares of forest were ravaged.
  • The Forest Department has begun steps to rope in villagers to keep an eye on those who may be causing these fires.
  • Most forest fires are man-made, and often, the forest becomes the focal point of a grudge against the State government

Karnataka women break into another male bastion

  • With the Karnataka Janapada Academy (KJA) set to launch 60 all-woman folk teams representing signature arts of the State, Women’s Day will see hundreds of women artists making waves.
  • On the day of launch on March 8, 60 troupes from 30 districts (two each) will present spectacular performances in Dollu Kunita, Veeragase, Kamsale, Tammate, Patakunita, Venu Kunita, Chittimela, Puja Kunita, Jaggalige Kunita, and other important folk forms.
  • Considering the demand performances of artistes like Durgamma of Ballari (Dollu Kunita), Savitha Chirukunaiah of Mandya (Puja Kunita), Yashoda of Tumakuru (Tammate) and Shweta of Chikkamagaluru (Veeragase) have generated at national and international events, including at the Indian Premier League, there is hope of commercial gain as well.
  • Though women have contributed significantly to enrich the folk culture, patriarchal society has limited their role to singing ‘Sobane’, ‘Beesukallu pada’ and devotional songs during marriages and other social gatherings. But, of late, some women artists have showed that conquering folk forms essentially dominated by men can have positive results. They have made a mark in art forms like ‘Dollu Kunita’ and ‘Veeragase’, which are widely considered a male bastion.
  • KJA’s plan is being executed with a government funding of Rs. 1.3 crore. Training is on in five revenue divisions. Artists selected for training are being paid a stipend of Rs. 500 per day, besides being provided boarding facilities.

First blackbuck sighting in Cauvery wildlife sanctuary

The blackbuck was spotted in the Mambetta Reserve Forest area of Hannur wildlife range, in Kollegal on February 8.
  • The Forest Department has reported the first-ever sighting and recording of the blackbuck, or Indian Antelope, in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollegal.
  • It was recorded from Mambetta Reserve Forest area of the Hannur Wildlife Range, Hannur, on February 8. It was photographed by the field staff during their regular patrolling duty.
  • This reporting of the blackbuck in the Cauvery wildlife sanctuary will add cheer to the conservation efforts of the Forest Department in the backdrop of the possible declaration of Cauvery wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve in the near future
  • The blackbuck is a new addition to the existing list of ungulates in the Cauvery wildlife sanctuary and it definitely becomes an additional prey base to the top predators such as the tiger and leopard.
  • The species has so far not been sighted and documented in the Cauvery-MM.Hills-BRT Sanctuary belt.
  • Incidentally, there is a proposal before the government to develop about 1,504.39 acres of land at Ummathur and Bagli villages in Chamarajanagar district to sustain the blackbuck population.
  • At present, the blackbuck conservation reserves in the State are at Ranebennur in Haveri and Jayamanagali in Tumakuru.

All district hospitals to have hearse van services from next month

  • Shradhhanjali hearse van services will be provided in each one of the 30 district hospitals in the State from next month.
  • The first such hearse van was sanctioned for the Government Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru in March 2015. Similar hearse vans would be provided for the remaining 30 district hospitals in the State.
  • While a nominal fee would be charged for transporting bodies, the fee would be borne by the district hospital if the family was not in a position to bear the cost.

First phase electrification of Konkan Railway route to start soon

  • The project for electrification of the Roha-Thokur railway line on Konkan Railway had already been sanctioned and the first phase electrification work of 330 kilometres from Thokur to Verna will commence soon.
  • On the Mangaluru end, the Southern Railway would be completing electrification up to Panambur. Hence electrification would have to begin from there as train locomotives would have to be changed.
  • The cost of electrification from Thokur to Roha had been estimated at Rs. 709 crore. It would take over three years to complete the electrification this 740 kilometre stretch. In the first phase only 330 kilometres of electrification would be done. The doubling of railway line from Roha to Thokur would take more time. The first phase of doubling work of the 47-kilometre railway line from Roha to Veer had begun in November last year at a cost of Rs. 300 crore.
  • In order to increase profits, the KRCL had already started the work of construction for siding for Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL). This will give the railways new business and more revenue.

Mysuru gets global attention

  • After bagging the cleanest city tag for the second time in a row, Mysuru has drawn global attention with France and Singapore showing interest in funding development projects in the city.
  • France has offered Rs. 19 crore for the solar energy project, road infrastructure, improvement of bus stands/stops, and traffic junctions.
  • A Singapore agency has come forward to offer financial assistance to five Indian cities, including Mysuru, which have been selected for a pilot project. Vijayawada, Guntur, Jaipur, and Bhopal are the others identified under the programme for turning them into ‘sustainable cities’.
  • Under the development of sustainable cities, initiatives will be launched in Mysuru with funding from Singapore.

Delay in clearing NIMZ proposal in kalburgi

  • Inordinate delay of the State government to clear a proposal on establishing the National Investment Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) in Chittapur taluk of Kalaburgi district and send to the Union government is causing consternation.
  • The previous government had given an in-principle approval to set up NIMZ in Chittapur. But after nearly two years, the proposal is yet to take off.
  • The only thing that was done by the State government was to sanction Rs. 45 lakh to the Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IIDC) to conduct a techno-feasibility report of the proposed NIMZ. According to official sources, the IIDC submitted its report to the government long back.
  • All that is required now is to place the report before the Cabinet and clear it to enable the Industries Department to place the proposal before the Union government.

Karnataka garners Rs. 9,700 crore investment during the Make in India Week

  • The State government received investment intentions of about Rs. 9,700 crore during the Make in India Week organised by the Union government in Mumbai.
  • The announcement is the latest investment proposal received by the State after the success of ‘Invest Karnataka 2016’ where it attracted investments of around Rs. 1.33 lakh crore.
  • As part of the event, the State government had organised a seminar to showcase potential offered by various sectors, including manufacturing, aerospace and defence, agri-business and food processing, biotechnology, and IT.

Councillors elected for BMPC

  • The first step to realising a longstanding demand for a functional Bengaluru Metropolitan Planning Committee (BMPC) was taken with the election of 18 councillors from Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) as members.
  • The last time councillors were elected to the BMPC was just over six months before the term of the last BBMP council came to an end in April 2015, rendering it a non-starter.
  • The BMPC, chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, is not yet met once
  • However, there is a lot riding on the current BMPC, as it will have a longer tenure of four-and-a-half years till August 2020, co-terminus with the term of the present BBMP council.
  • Ideally, BMPC will have to now take over the larger planning of the city, including the Revised Master Plan 2031, that the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is engaged in.
  • However, civic activists have been resisting this approach from day one. A public hearing conducted by the BDA for the master plan last year ended up being a stormy affair, with activists questioning the locus standi of BDA to go ahead with the process.
  • The activists have been arguing that the Master Plan, a blueprint for the city’s development over the next 15 years, cannot be drawn up by bureaucrats without the involvement of elected representatives.

Panel visits Hampi’s heritage tank

  • The controversial 2-km stretch of road being laid along the ancient Kamalapur tank near Hampi is back in the news with the committee constituted to advise the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority on implementing the Integrated Site Management Plan for Hampi visiting the place
  • The visit assumes significance in the wake of serious concerns expressed by the officials of the ASI that the new road being laid would severely threaten and distort the character of the ancient tank built by the Vijayanagar emperors. The tank falls within the core zone of Hampi World Heritage Site.

Board to buy excess tobacco from growers

  • Tobacco growers in Mysuru and Hassan districts, the key growing areas in the State, can exult as the Tobacco Board will soon start purchasing excess Flue Cured Virginia tobacco for the 2015-16 season.
  • Each registered grower has to pay Rs. 2 a kg and 7.5 per cent of the proceeds of the sale to the tobacco fund for the excess FCV produced by him or her to the extent of 10 per cent of the quota authorised for the crop season. Likewise, Rs. 2 a kg and 15 per cent of the proceeds of the sale should be contributed to the fund by an unregistered grower.
  • All the auction superintendents have been directed to allow the sale and purchase of excess tobacco with immediate effect if growers agree to comply with the conditions.
  • Importantly, registered and unregistered growers have been asked to file an application-cum-undertaking with details of stocks of the excess or unauthorised production and declare that they will not resort to excess/unauthorised cultivation and operation of their unregistered/unauthorised barns in future.
  • The quota for sale of excess tobacco should be allowed only to growers whose stocks have been certified by the field staff concerned. The auction superintendents shall ensure sale of tobacco with 5 per cent variation as far as possible.
  • Sale of unauthorised tobacco as excess tobacco by grower to avoid penalties shall not be allowed. Any major variations, resulting in financial loss to the government, will be viewed seriously

RTE seats: Karnataka schools want hike in fee reimbursed by govt.

  • The High Court of Karnataka asked the State government to respond to a plea by the non-minority private unaided schools seeking an increase in the fee to be paid by the government to them for 25 per cent of the seats filled up under the Right to Education (RTE) Act quota.
  • In its plea, the association pointed out that the government, on May 8, 2012, issued a notification stating that it would reimburse a fee of Rs. 11,848 for primary education (from Class 1 onwards) per child every year, and Rs. 5,924 for pre-school sections.
  • The government had not increased the fee from the past four consecutive academic years even though private school managements had given representations seeking an increase, and added that it would be difficult to run the schools as the government had failed to reimburse the fee in full as per the 2012 notification.
  • They questioned the rationale of fixing a “meagre” fee of Rs. 11,848 for primary section when the government recently published a draft fee of Rs. 11,500 for reimbursement for admissions under the RTE quota to pre-schools in Bengaluru city limits.

Arogya Bandhu scheme scrapped

  • The Health Department has decided to do away with the Arogya Bandhu scheme
  • The govt under the scheme had partnered with NGOs, charitable trusts and private medical colleges to run 52 PHCs.
  • It has decided to take the PHCs back into its fold. This follows a series of complaints of non-compliance of rules, misuse of funds, and failure to provide quality service to patients by the organisations running these PHCs.

Surveillance cameras at traffic signals in Mysuru

  • Forty surveillance cameras will be installed at traffic signals in different parts of the city under M-TRAC, a Mysuru Traffic Improvement Project.
  • The surveillance cameras, which would be installed at vantage locations, would not only help the police detect traffic violations, including jumping the signal, helmetless driving and other offences, but also capture live feed that would be passed on to the Traffic Management Centre.
  • The cameras would be installed at most of the traffic signals in the heart of the city. The cameras were being positioned strategically to capture violations by motorists, who often stop their vehicles on pedestrian crossings, obstructing the pedestrian’s path.
  • Traffic police officials said the cameras, which rotate 180 degrees, could also be controlled from the Traffic Management Centre situated in the city Police Commissioner’s office.
  • The surveillance cameras would also be used for law and order purpose and crowd control, whenever the need arose.
  • However, the basic purpose of the cameras remained detection of traffic offences. Also, motorists, whose traffic offences were captured on cameras, would be sent a notice for payment of penalty by collecting their address from the Transport Department.
  • Meanwhile, more than 35 cameras installed by the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) about four years ago remain non-functional. The private agency entrusted with the annual maintenance contract of the cameras was apparently not responding to the complaint lodged by the MCC.

Helicopter tourism launched in Udupi

  • Tourism in Udupi district, dotted with pristine beaches and pilgrim centres, is all set to get a major push with the launch of the helicopter tourism facility at Adi Udupi helipad  The service, currently available for two weeks, could get extended if it becomes a hit. Tourists, VVIPs or businessmen wanting to visit Udupi or Kollur can hop into the chopper from Mangaluru and reach the pilgrim centres.
  • The facility will also be available for the tourist destinations of Murudeshwar and Gokarna from Udupi. The helicopter can carry a maximum of six passengers apart from the pilot.
  • The Delhi-based chartered service provider Chipsan Aviation began its heli-tourism services here after getting the nod from the District Administration, which gets a request every week or 10 days for a helicopter landing.
  • There are separate guidelines by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for aviation service. Presently, the administration provides police security and a fire tender at the Adi Udupi helipad.

CII introduces ‘GreenCo’ rating for companies based on environmental performances

  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has initiated the ‘GreenCo’ rating for companies based on their environmental performance across nine parameters, including energy efficiency, water conservation, use of renewable energy and waste management.
  • Experts say it is a more advanced certification. Going green makes strong business sense. It is encouraging to note how Indian industry is gearing up to address ecological issues and concerns and in turn offering vibrant and robust solutions to the global community
  • Adding increased impetus to this paradigm shift is the ‘Make in India’ campaign of the Union government, which intrinsically focuses on encouraging ‘green’ growth models and innovations

HC quashed Education department rules

  • Uncertainty looms large over continuation of service of nearly 4,000 assistant high school teachers, who have diploma course certificates in English. The High Court of Karnataka had squashed the appointment of teachers in 1993-94.
  • The High Court, Dharwad Bench, passed an order on July 30, 2015, quashing the Karnataka Education Department Services (Department of Public Instructions) (Recruitment) (Amendment) Rules, 2002. The rules allowed the department to recruit English teachers, who acquired the nine-month diploma course certificate.
  • These teachers were recruited in 1993-94 under special rules. At the time, there were very few candidates who had passed English as major subject

Bengaluru suburban rail may soon be a reality

  • The State government has proposed a Bengaluru suburban railway system connecting Mandya and Kengeri, Tumakuru and Yeshwantapur, and Whitefield and Byappanahalli (in Bengaluru) in the first phase.
  • The estimated cost of the entire project is Rs. 9,000 crore. The State has requested the Centre to take up first phase of the project, which would cost Rs. 1,000 crore.
  • This would help ease traffic congestion in Bengaluru city, which has emerged as the country’s technology capital apart from being the leading IT hub.
  • The State government had discussed the suburban railway project in the Invest-Karnataka meet held recently. The project requires minimal intervention; it only needs upgrading of existing facilities and negates building from scratch.
  • The State is ready to take up the suburban railway project under cost-sharing formula with the Centre. Mr. Prabhu has suggested formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to execute the project,” Mr. George replied to a question.

Jayashree refuses State film award

  • Noted theatre and cine personality B. Jayashree has “refused to accept” the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Supporting Actor given for her performance in Koudhi .
  • Ms. Jayashree, a Rajya Sabha member, told that “receiving Best Supporting Actor award for Koudhi is nothing but doing injustice to the Ambavva, the protagonist of the film.”
  • “The film revolves around the central character Ambavva and accepting the Best Supporting Actor Award for the role is like denying the Best Supporting Actor Award to somebody in some other film. Ambavva is the main character, not the supportive character in the film,” Ms. Jayashree clarified.

National Green Tribunal clears decks for Hubballi-Ankola rail line

  • Decks have been cleared for the controversial Hubballi-Ankola railway line, cutting across the eco-sensitive Western Ghats in Karnataka, with the National Green Tribunal giving its nod to Railways to approach the State government.
  • The project was conceived in 1998 primarily to transport iron ore from the Ballari-Hospet mines

Background

  • The controversy in the present case relates to conversion of forest land to a non-forest activity (construction of broad gauge railway line) for which total land of 965 hectares falling in Dharwad, Yellapur and Karwar forest divisions in Karnataka was required.
  • Under the provision of Section 2 of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 the State government has to issue an order permitting such conversion with prior approval of the Central government that is MoEF.
  • In 2006, two Karnataka-based NGOs — Parisara Sanmrakshana Kendra and Wilderness Club — filed a petition in Supreme Court against the diversion of forest land for this project.
  • Later, the apex court halted the construction. The apex court on October 5 last year transferred bunch of cases involving forest clearances and the CEC’s views on it to the green panel while asking it to decide them expeditiously.
  • The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) last year had disapproved the 168-km rail link project and said that it would have “huge and irreparable” ecological impact on the forests, wildlife and biodiversity of the Western Ghats.

The order

  • The green panel said that to apply for conversion of forest land to a non-forest activity was a right available to the project proponent and the State government which has to be dealt with in accordance with law
  • The tribunal further said that if such an application is moved the State government shall deal with it expeditiously and they would seek prior approval of the Environment Ministry in accordance with law.

Menace of solid waste in the city 

  • Nearly five years after segregation at source was made compulsory by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), more than half the city’s garbage remains un-segregated.
  • Only around 40 per cent of waste in the city is being segregated. The most important element for successful implementation of waste segregation is the cooperation of the citizens and the councillor, and the BBMP’s willingness to act and penalise
  • Commercial areas in and around the centre of the city such as Kalasipalya, Chickpet and K.R. Market continue to grapple with segregation issues, with houses atop shops posing the most problems.
  • From March onwards, pourakarmikas have been instructed to not collect any mixed waste. There will be fining for non segregation too.
  • After the closure of garbage landfills in Mandur and Mavallipura, the new processing plants are only designed for segregated garbage. Composting is also only reserved for wet waste. This leaves the BBMP with no choice but to reject mixed waste.

Bandipur and Nagarahole house half of state’s tigers

  • Just over half of Karnataka’s tigers roam amid the woods and shrubs of Bandipur and Nagarahole.
  • The tiger census report, released early last year, showed the State topping the charts with the presence of 406 tigers. However, the yet-to-be-released reserve-wise list shows that 1,517 sq km of forest patches of Bandipur — which now houses the second largest population of tigers in the world — and Nagarahole Tiger Reserve have 221 tigers in their confines.
  • In all, the enumeration of tigers in reserves where Project Tiger has been implemented shows that more than three-fourth of the State’s big cat population resides in the nearly 3,500 sq km area encompassed by the five reserves.
  • There is a need to focus on tiger corridors to ensure that the forests do not reach a saturation point.
  • Nagarahole and Bandipur are doing very well in terms of protection of tigers. But if saturation is reached, tigers will need corridors to move to other areas. The Nilgiri biosphere can absorb some of these tigers, but the key is to establish corridors northwards towards Bhadra and M.M. Hills.
  • The need is already seen in the Nagarahole tiger reserve, where tiger sightings in coffee plantations near Madikeri have increased..
  • On the flipside, the presence of a relatively-verdant corridor between the BRT Reserve and M.M. Hills has seen migration between the reserves. Officials estimate that many of the 14 tigers in the M.M. Hills and Cauvery originated from Biligiri Ranganatha Temple.
  • The more impressive increase has been seen at the BRT Reserve at Chamarajanagar, which now houses 68 tigers.
  • Activists have pointed out that the encouraging tiger populations in BRT and other areas will need declaration of more tiger reserves to sustain the populations — primarily M.M. Hills, Cauvery Wildlife sanctuaries and Kudremukh.

NIMHANS to unveil Urban Mental Health Plan

  • With heightened concern over the impact of excessive use of technology — especially social media addiction — on mental health in our cities, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) is planning to come up with an Urban Mental Health Plan.
  • The current district mental health plan largely catered to issues of people in rural areas.
  • Unlike in rural areas, the nature of life and addictions are different in urban areas. Apart from technology addiction, urban population has to deal with traffic jams, pollution, competition, and consumerism. The impact of these stress factors on the mental health of people need to be looked at
  • Also, unlike in rural areas, the family support system is poor in urban areas. A different plan is needed to ensure that people who need care are not left alone
  • The final report of the National Mental Health Survey, which is under way, would give a clear picture on the varying stress factors in urban and rural settings. The report would help NIMHANS in preparing an exclusive plan of action for mental health issues of people in urban areas.

Prepaid meters for temporary connections by BESCOM

  • Bescom has given out more than 53,000 temporary connections, including for new constructions, exhibitions, cinema tent houses and hoardings. Close to 3,000 connections are serviced every month.
  • Consumers taking temporary connections from the power utility have been drawing power over the sanctioned load, causing losses to Bescom. While Bescom has not been able to quantify the losses, officials admit to a strain on the power supply mechanism.
  • In the case of regular meters for temporary connections, this goes unrecorded, leading to monetary losses for Bescom. Sometimes, even the owner/builder won’t know what the required load is

The solution

  • One of the solutions to this problem is installation of prepaid meters, which Bescom has successfully piloted in East Bengaluru, including areas like Indiranagar, Marathahalli and Whitefield. These meters record the over-shooting of sanctioned load.
  • While the utility has been mulling extending these to ‘high-growth’ areas in South and North Bengaluru (including areas like Yelahanka which see a lot of construction activity), the high cost of prepaid meters is turning out to be a hindrance.
  • In a bid to tackle this issue, Bescom has filed a petition with the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) seeking permission to get consumers to bear part of the cost. With a difference of Rs. 9,000 between a prepaid meter and a regular one, Bescom wants consumers to pay a monthly rental on prepaid meters.
  • A regular meter would cost Rs. 930 for single phase and Rs. 1,900 for three phase. But the investment for prepaid meters is higher. A single-phase meter costs Rs. 10,000, while a three-phase meter costs Rs. 12,000. For the pilot, Bescom purchased the meters. In the case of regular meters, consumers buy them on their own after getting permission from Bescom

Annual State film awards

Various state awards bagged
  • The selection committee that chose film awards for 2014, seems to have tried to strike a balance between mainstream and independent film makers.
  • Mainstream films like Gaja Kesari andAbhimanyu have made it to the awards list, just as independent films like Harivu and Naanu Avanalla Avalu too have.
  • Basant Kumar Patil, who won the Dr. Rajkumar Award, has bagged a national award for all the seven films produced by him in recent years. His award winning spree commenced from Gulabi Talikies, produced by Girish Kasaravalli. Besides, Mr. Patil has acted in hundreds of films and headed the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce.
  • Suresh Urs, recipient of Dr. Vishnuvardhan Award, has edited over 500 films and 50 documentaries. Besides Kannada directors, Mr. Urs has worked with directors such as Mani Ratnam. He was awarded the National Film Award for Best Editing for Bombay .
  • The Puttanna Kanagal Award this time has gone to Baragur Ramachandrappa, who has made a name for himself in the literary world. He has produced over 17 films and bagged 10 awards.
  • Harivu , chosen as the best film, is the debut movie by visual artist-turned director Manjunatha Somashekara Reddy (Mansore).Abhimanyu directed by Arjun Sarja, which deals with crass commercialisation of education, has been adjudged as the second best film. Haggada Kone, directed by Dayal Padmanabhan, got the third best film.
  • Actor Sanchari Vijay, who also secured the national award as best actor for his brilliant performance inNaanu Avanalla Avalu, directed by B.S. Lingadevaru, got the best actor award for the same film at the State level. In what is being described as the first complete film on transgenders in Kannada, Sanchari Vijay essays the role of Madesha, who later transforms as Vidya. The film, which was screened at the 8th BIFFes got second prize in the Kannada competition section.
  • Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, actor and classical dancer, secured best female actor award for her performance in Vidaaya directed by P. Sheshadri. The film is set against the backdrop of the issue of passive euthanasia.
  • Ulidavaru Kandante, the most discussed film last year, directed by Rakshit Shetty, got the best debut film of a director award. Mr. Shetty -actually managed to deliver a good instance of the Rashomon effect (a film directed by Akira Kurosawa).Besides these films , Brahmashree Narayana Gurusway by Shekar Kotyan (Special Social Concern film), Gajakesari starring Yash directed by Krishna (Best popular entertainment film), Banadi directed by Nagaraja Kote (Best Children Film) and Vishada Maleby Atmashree (Best Karnataka Regional Language Award film) have bagged various awards for the year 2014
  • An eight-member selection committee, headed by K. Shivarudraiah, selected the films and personalities for awards

Mega solar credit camp on Feb. 17

  • The Dakshina Kannada district administration in association with NABARD, banks and Mescom, has organised a mega solar credit camp to finance solar roof-tops, starting with Mangaluru taluk in the city on February 17.
  • The target is to finance at least 5,000 installations and every bank branch is given the target of Rs. 1 crore. The camp is aimed at encouraging individuals in the taluk to opt for solar roof top panels to conserve conventional energy as the district has very high potential to produce solar power.
  • The cost of solar power production has reduced drastically over the years due to improved technology, and it costs about Rs. 5 crore to Rs. 6 crore to produce 1 MW of power against Rs. 15 crore a couple years ago. Similarly, the cost of producing one KW rooftop power ranges from Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 1 lakh.
  • Target to finance at least 5,000 installations in Mangaluru urban area
  • Mescom buys power at Rs. 9.56 a unit without subsidy and Rs. 7.20 a unit with subsidy
  • Quantum of subsidy hiked from 15 per cent to 30 per cent of the project cost

Easier way to talk the Kodava ‘takk’

  • A minority language unfamiliar to many in the State will finally have a comprehensive dictionary of its own with meanings in Kannada and English. Kodava vocabulary will be captured in Kodava Arivole, which will be published by Mangalore University in March.
  • Boverianda C. Uthaiah (77) and wife B.U. Thangamma (66) joined forces and compiled the Kodava-Kodava-Kannada-English, which has about 11,000 words.
  • According to the UNESCO, Kodava is a ‘vulnerable’ language. Though the latest statistics on how many speak Kodava takk is not available, according to the 2001 census, only 92,193 people speak the language.
  • I.M. Muthanna’s Kodava Nudi Artha Kosha, the first dictionary published in 1988, gave the meanings of Kodava words in Kannada. In addition, Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy brought out a handbook Kodava-Kannada-English Kaipudi in 1988.

Startups to get a slot in nanotech meet

  • Bangalore India Nano-2016, Karnataka’s annual nanotechnology showpiece, will be held from March 3 to 5.
  • The eighth edition of the event, which was started in 2007, will have a new feature called Nano Sparks to showcase path-breaking ideas of startups and young researchers.
  • Forty-five exhibitors and 500 industry and academia delegates from nine countries are expected to participate
  • Nano India will discuss the latest trends in nanotechnology and their uses in healthcare, clean water, energy and manufacturing.

The Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016.

  • The new rules for taxi aggregators issued by the government will mean that they will have to toe the line on passenger safety.KPSC exams
  • But, for the moment, they have been given some leeway in pricing.
  • However, this is likely to change at the end of the 30-day window for people to voice their objections to The Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016.

What are the rules?

  1. Police verification mandatory
  2. Aggregators will have to ensure that all their taxis display a board showing the permit and details of the driver, such as photo, name, licence and badge number along with an ID card issued by the police.
  3. Each cab must have a panic button, which can be used by the passenger without any interference by the driver.
  4. In a bid to regulate the men at the wheel, the rules state that no driver can have a drunk driving violation or any other cognisable offence under the Criminal Procedure Code for a period of seven years before joining the aggregator.
  5. Drivers will need a minimum experience of two years. In addition, they will have to prove that they have been staying in the State for a minimum of five years and can speak Kannada and another language, preferably English.
  6. Aggregators will have to maintain exhaustive records for a period of one year of trips operated. This will include customer details and complaints, which will have to be made accessible to authorities, if necessary
  7. A grievance redressal officer will have to be appointed for dealing with customer complaints.
  8. Under the current rates fixed by the government, surge pricing, which pushes the rates to more than Rs. 19.5/km will not be possible. Under the new rules, the fare cannot cross the fare fixed by the government.
  9. Driver details will have to be displayed in the taxi after approval by police authorities.
  10. Aggregators will have to immediately suspend the access of a driver to the platform on receipt of a complaint that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The suspension cannot be lifted till an enquiry into the matter is completed by the aggregator.
  11. Cabs will be fitted with a yellow-colour display board with the word ‘Taxi’ visible both from the front and the rear
  12. Vehicles have to be less than 6 years old at the time a driver signs up with an aggregator
  13. Fare shall be charged only from the point of boarding to the point of exit.
  14. No passenger shall be charged for dead mileage
  15. Permit holder can operate with multiple aggregators simultaneously
  16. Aggregator to send photo of driver along with vehicle registration number and other details to customer’s mobile before boarding
  17. Aggregator must publish policy on taxi fare, registration of taxis and drivers on its platform or app

No surge pricing?

While government officials had previously stated their opposition to the ‘surge pricing’ model adopted by aggregators, the rules simply state that the fare collected shall be as per the digital meter and cannot be more than the fares fixed by the government. Currently, the city taxi rules permit cab operators to charge up to Rs. 19.5 per km for an air-conditioned taxi. This means that for some aggregators, who charge up to Rs 9.75 per km, surge pricing is possible.

Karnataka MobileOne bags award

  • Karnataka MobileOne, the flagship application launched by the State government in 2014, bagged the Gold award at the World Governance Summit in Dubai
  • Secretary, Department of e-Governance, Srivatsa Krishna, received the award on behalf of the State from Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdam bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
  • MobileOne was adjudged the best m-government service in the world at the fourth edition of the summit attended by 125 countries
  • The other shortlisted nominees were ‘UK.Gov’ and ‘Kazakhstan.gov.’
  • MobileOne was selected through online voting and the jury comprised experts from the United Nations, World Economic Forum and World Bank.

About Karnataka MobileOne platform

  • It is a multi-modal e-governance platform through which citizens can access as many as 4,500 services on a mobile phone
  • This is the first such initiative in the country and among one of the world’s largest mobile governance platforms.
  • Called the Karnataka MobileOne platform, the facility can be used to pay utility bills, property tax, book railway and bus tickets or file income tax returns.
  • Significantly, it has been designed to also cater to low-end phones as well.
  • MobileOne also plans to integrate digital media and advertising in the future in order to enable a self-sustaining model through advertising revenue, user fees and subscription models.
  • The MobileOne platform was developed in a public-private partnership mode with mobile value-added services provider IMI Mobile
  • As many as 500 government-to-citizen services and over 4,000 business-to-consumer services have been integrated into the MobileOne platform.
  • Besides, it will also employ geo-tagging for a government-citizen engagement initiative through which users can notify authorities of non-functioning public services through photographs.

Consortium of public institutes to focus on non-GM biotechnology research

  • Following lack of consensus on technology related to genetically modified (GM) crops, the Karnataka government is not only trying to aggressively push for research into non-GM biotechnology, but has also formed a consortium of reputed public institutions to take up this research.
  • Announcing this at Bangalore India Bio 2016 here, Minister of State for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda said the consortium comprised all the agricultural universities, National Centre for Biological Sciences, and the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics.
  • The consortium would take up research through non-GM biotechnology (marker-assisted breeding) on developing drought-resistant and higher-yielding varieties in the crops of groundnut, pigeon pea, ragi, and jowar.
  • The research would be completely funded by the State government

Karanth’s house being restored09mn_mnrmm1_INT_11_2731993f

  • Restoration of the 80-year-old house in which Jnanpith Award winner K. Shivaram Karanth spent most of his life has begun at Balavana in Puttur, 90 km from Mangaluru.
  • The work is being undertaken by the Bengaluru chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
  • This hilly area surrounded by trees had inspired Karanth to write many of his works.
  • Following his death, the whole area, including his house, was named Balavana.
  • The house is now a museum displaying rare photographs, articles of Karanth and his Jnanpith Award.
  • As the house started showing signs of dilapidation, the district administration planned to renovate it. Karanth’s daughter and danseuse Kshama Rao had insisted that the structure built by her father should be retained and had asked the government to assign the task of restoration to INTACH.
  • The district administration has moved valuable articles from the museum to a treasury. The Jnanpith Award, the Vagdevi statue, preserved in a bulletproof casing in the house, is now in the treasury. Among other articles are the Dadabhai Naoroji medal and Karanth’s walking stick, besides many photographs.

Trial run of YTPS unit I successful

  • The trial run first unit of the Yeramarus Thermal Power Plant (YTPS) near Raichur was successful
  • The operation of the unit began at 2.59 pm and stopped at 4.01 pm. A total of 121 MW of power was generated during the 62-minute trial run.
  • The trial run was taken up on February 1 using light diesel oil and heavy fuel oil. However, it was not successful due to technical snags.
  • Sources at the YTPS said that they would soon conduct a test using coal as a fuel and the actual power generation would commence by March-end.
  • The YTPS has been set up at a cost of Rs 9,000 crore by Karnataka Power Corporation and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL). It comprises two thermal power units, each of 800-MW capacity

Crop failure: Central team to visit State

  • With Karnataka being the first state to declare failure of winter crop this year, the Centre decided to send a high-level team there to assess the situation caused due to dry, warm winter.
  • Karnataka has requested central assistance of Rs 1,417 crore after damage to rabi crops worth Rs 7,209 crore.
  • The State sought Rs 1,290 crore for crop failure, Rs 74.67 crore for animal husbandry losses and Rs 52 crore to provide drinking water in rural areas
  • The State – in its memorandum submitted to the ministry – said rabi crops sown in more than 24.64 lakh hectares mainly in 12 districts (Dharwad, Haveri, Vijayapura, Gadag, Bidar, Belagavi, Bagalkot, Ballari, Koppal, Raichur, Kalaburagi and Yadgir) had suffered damaged.
  • Winter crops – jowar, sunflower, chickpea and linseed – suffered heavy losses while wheat, cotton and rice are partially affected.
  • Rabi crops depend on moisture and Karnataka witnessed warm and dry weather this year

‘Minority’ schools will be asked to furnish certificate

  • With many private schools claiming to have ‘self-styled’ minority status to wriggle out of providing seats under the RTE quota, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has for the first time asked managements to produce the relevant certificate
  • Since 2012 when the RTE Act was implemented in the State, many leading schools in the city were refusing admissions under the quota by claiming to have minority status, depriving many students of seats even after the selection process.
  • Schools having minority status are exempted from providing 25 per cent reservation in private unaided schools.
  • While around 1,900 schools have minority status, several others too had illegally claimed to have minority status, but produced a fake certificate, attracting the ire of Department of Public Instruction, which issued notices to over a dozen schools.
  • However, the Department of Primary and Secondary Education on Monday issued an order asking schools to submit their certificates, which would be verified by the Director (Urdu and other minority language).
  • As expected, the department revised the age criteria for admissions under RTE.
  • The entry level for children at LKG will be between 3 years 10 months and 4 years 10 months, and between 5 years 10 months and 6 years 10 months for entry into class one, as of June 1.Also, unlike last year when the department allowed parents to apply for an RTE seat in adjoining wards, this year they will be allowed to apply only in their wards.
  • In rural areas, parents should apply for seats in schools within a one kilometre radius of their residence.

Ancient water supply system in Karnataka being mapped09TH-NATION-Fir_10_2730716e

  • The innovative concept of underground water supply built centuries ago in Vijayapura city during the Adil Shahi regime is now being mapped with a view to restoring this ancient system.
  • The dynasty that ruled between 1490 and 1686 constructed the complex and extensive subterranean tunnels to supply water to this ancient city.
  • The tunnels, which pass through most part of the old city of Vijayapura, are now being mapped by the Indian Heritage Cities Network (IHCN), an agency hired by the district administration.

With onset of summer, annual elephant migration begins

  • The annual migration of elephants from the Bandipur-Nagarahole landscape to the Kabini backwaters has commenced with the onset of summer and the forest fire season.
  • Parts of Bandipur and Nagarahole, which are replete with elephants, are bereft of these gentler giants, as they have started their movement to the Kabini reservoir in search of water and fodder.
  • This is an annual phenomena and India’s equivalent to the great migration of animals at Serengeti and Masai Mara in Africa.
  • The elephants are in transit and a large number of the jumbos can be sighted at N. Begur, Kalkere, Moolehole ranges and other places which are on the forest route to Kabini backwaters, he added.
  • With backwaters being a source of perennial water, elephant herds from Bandipur, Nagarahole, Mudumalai and Wayanad are known to congregate there during summer, when water holes and fodder dry up in the national parks.
  • Bandipur and Nagarahole national parks harbour around 2,500 to 3000 elephants between them.

 ‘Sakala awareness in State low even after four years’

  • A status paper on Sakala, the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act, 2011 brought out by the Karnataka Sakala Watch, a group of citizens’ organisations monitoring the implementation of the programme, says that citizens’ hope of availing government services within a time frame remains a dream. Even after four years, more than 60 per cent of the citizens, particularly in rural areas, are not even aware of Sakala.06bg_bgtmi_Saka_07_2727310f
  • The report mentions that although the government has estimated that over 3,000 services could be brought under Sakala, only 725 were offered by the end of 2015. Only 135 services were being offered online, the report adds.
  • The pendency of overdue applications had risen to nearly 15,300 by the end of 2015.
  • Not a single disciplinary action has been initiated under the Act so far.
  • The report also states that citizens are entitled to demand compensation for defaulted service delivery. However, there was a steep fall in the number of cases in which compensatory costs were awarded — from over 250 in 2013 and 2014, to a mere 55 in 2015. Only Rs. 68,000 has been paid as compensation in four years, against the corpus fund of Rs. 5 crore.

Nada Kusti makes it to cover page of international book

  • A slice of Mysuru’s heritage — Nada Kusti (wrestling) — has made it to the cover page of an international publication, ‘Beyond the Body’, with 183 black-and-white pictures by renowned Polish photographer Tomasz Gudzowaty that document traditional games that are fading into oblivion.
  • The cover page features two Mysuru-based wrestlers preparing for a bout, covered in mud, and taken in Mysuru under low-light conditions inside a garadi (traditional gym).
  • The book has been edited by Nan Goldin, a well-known American photo journalist.

Who are the wrestlers?

The wrestlers featured are Shankar Chakravarthy (winner of the former Dasara Kesari State-level competition for three successive years, who is now employed with the City Armed Reserve Police) and Vinod (a former Mysore University wrestler now pursuing master’s in Physical Education.)

  • Incidentally, the photography series on Nada Kusti was featured in the sports category of the World Press Contest in Amsterdam, and won the 3rd prize.

Other projects

The other projects done in coordination with Mr. Muralidharan and featured in the book include Kalaripayattu and women’s boxing shot in Kerala, Yoga (with Mysore Yoga practitioners shot in Varanasi), Urban Golf in India (shot with caddies in Mumbai and in other countries.)

State needs 1,725 new liquor stores

  • Based on the 2011 census, the Excise department has estimated that 1,725 new liquor retail shops (CL-2) are required in the State
  • The new licences would generate more revenue for the State exchequer and will also help curb the illegal sale of liquor.
  • Previously, the CL-2 estimation was done based on the norms of the Excise Act, which permits one liquor shop for every 15,000 persons in rural areas and one shop for every 7,500 persons in urban areas.
  • The government had granted more arrack shops in rural areas before 2007 (sale of arrack was banned that year). As there were more arrack shops the number of CL-2 lincences in rural areas was confined.
  • The State issued 3,935 licences (CL-2) in 1992 based on the population data released in 1991. Though it has been two-and-half decades since then, the government has not issued any new licences in this category or for bar and restaurants (CL-9).
  • On the other hand, the government has been issuing new licences in the categories of CL-4 (clubs), CL-6A (star hotels), CL-7 (hotels and boarding houses), CL-7D (hotels and boardings houses owned by SC and ST), CL-8 (military canteen stores) and CL-8A (bonded warehouse). It had put a ban on CL-2 and CL-9.
  • A total of 9,871 liquor licences in various categories bring the State a good revenue. Increase in sales every year and additional tax impositions are also helping the government double liquor revenue.

Lok Adalat from Feb 13

  • The Karnataka State Legal Services Authority will organise monthly National Lok Adalats from February to September 2016 across the State.
  • The adalat will be held in 15 districts – Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Ramanagara, Chitradurga, Davangere, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Shivamogga, Tumakuru, Belagavi, Haveri, Bagalakot, Uttara Kannada, Dharwad and Gadag on February 21 and on February 13 in the remaining districts.

Lemon grass oil for pregnant women to fight Zika virus

  • The State Health and Family Welfare department is making preparations to distribute lemon grass oil to poor pregnant women, to help prevent them from getting bitten by mosquitoes
  • Lemon grass oil, a natural extract, acts as a mosquito/insect repellent. The department aims to provide the repellent to the beneficiaries in the next 10 to 15 days.
  • This is one of the few measures the department has initiated after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an ‘emergency’ over the explosive pandemic of Zika virus, which has put over 22 countries in the Americas on red alert.
  • Also, the Centre too has issued guidelines to all the State governments to control the spread of the virus, which is especially dangerous to pregnant women.
  • Mosquito repellent will be part of Madilu kit

‘Madilu’ kit

  • The department has held talks with the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd (KS&DL) to distribute lemon grass oil, along with the 19 other products in the ‘Madilu’ kit, a scheme which was launched by the government in 2008 to provide postnatal care for poor pregnant mothers, and the child.
  • The BPL card holders would be eligible for the oil.

Pregnant women infected by the virus in the first trimester carry the risk of giving birth to children with a severe birth defect called microcephaly, who are born with abnormally small heads, underdeveloped brains and reduced life expectancy.

  • Though there are several repellents available in form of oils or ointments in the market, the department has approached KS&DL to avoid any procedural delays

Fruit of 2 days’ work: Rs 3L cr worth of biz proposals

The two-day Invest Karnataka -2016 Summit attracted investment proposals totalling Rs 3.08 lakh crore with a potential to create 6.7 lakh jobs.

Invest Karnataka-2016: Proposed projects can create 6.7 lakh jobs in Karnataka

  • Speaking at the valedictory of the summit attended by top industrial captains of the country and around 4,000 delegates, Industries Minister R V Deshpande said 56 per cent of the investment (Rs 1.75 lakh crore) has already been cleared by State high power clearance committee and single window agencies of various departments during the last one year.
  • At the same time, the meet witnessed the State government and entrepreneurs signing 121 new memoranda of understanding (MoU) and expressions of interest (EoI) entailing investment to the tune of Rs 1.33 lakh crore.
  • The top investor in this edition of the investment summit turned out to be Adani Green Energy Limited, which pledged to invest Rs 18,000 crore for expanding its power station and and set up a solar project for renewable energy.
  • Second in the list is JSW Steel which has agreed to invest Rs 12,396 crore for expanding its steel plant in the State.
  • The Energy sector topped the list with an investment flow of Rs 26,456 crore followed by chemicals (Rs 23,961 crore) and iron and steel (Rs 20,459 crore). Interestingly, the information technology and biotechnology sector drew investment to the tune of only Rs 3,166 crore.
  • Deshpande said the government would soon set up an agency comprising representatives from the industry and government officials to exclusively monitor and follow-up investments in the State.
  • At the same time, a top-ranking official will be appointed to follow-up the new MoUs and EoIs and ensure that the projects are placed before various clearance committees by May 15 this year.
  • the investments had come across all focus sectors including manufacturing, pharma, bio-technology, urban infrastructure, tourism among others. The investments have not been confined to Bengaluru but spread across tier-two and three cities including Ramanagaram, Ballari, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada among others.
  • Invest Karnataka-2016 helped in establishing “new bridges, forge new partnerships” between the government and the industries.

Kannada films bag 5 awards at Biffes

  • Kannada films achieved a feat equal to other languages and international films, bagging five awards in the eighth edition of the Bengaluru International Film Festival (Biffes)
  • ‘Thithi’, a Kannada film, directed by Ram Reddy, shared best film prize with ‘Under Heaven’, a film from Kyrgyzstan in the Asian film category. A total of 12 films were in the race, according to jury and filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli. Film critic Antony and curator Barbara Lorey were the other juries.
  • Marathi film ‘The Silence’, directed by Gajendra Hadare was named the best in the Indian films category. The special jury awards were conferred on ‘The Eye’ in Malayalam, directed by Siddhartha Shiva and ‘Island City’ in Hindi, directed by Ruchika Oberoi.
  • A total of 14 films were vying for the honour in the category
  • In Kannada films category ‘Vidaya’, directed by P Sheshadri, and produced by Basanth Kumar Patil was adjudged the first best film, followed by ‘Naanu Avanalla Avalu’, directed by B S Lingadevaru, produced by Ravi Garani, as second best film.
  • ‘Puta Thirugisi Nodu’, directed by Sunil Raghavendra, was the third best film, according to jury head Shaji N Karun, who had to watch 15 films to decide the best of the three.
  • The net pack award for Kannada went to ‘Saalada Magu’, directed by Umashankar Swamy, said jury head K Y Narayan Swamy.

Governor okays additional chief secretary’s name as CIC

  • Governor Vajubhai Vala has given his assent to the appointment of the chief information commissioner and four information commissioners.
  • Accordingly, the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms notified the appointments.
  • The appointments were finalised by a select committee comprising Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra and Opposition leader in Assembly, Jagadish Shettar.
  • The chief information commissioner and information commissioners have a tenure of five years or have to retire on attaining 65 years of age.
  • They get salary and other facilities on a par with a high court judge.

Screening for Zika virus at B’luru, Mangaluru airports

  • Following the advisory from the Centre, the State Health department will intensify screening for Zika virus carriers at the Kempegowda International Airport and the Mangalore International Airport
  • The Health department, which is coordinating with the airport authorities, has decided to depute two doctors and paramedical staff each from Bengaluru Urban and Rural to the KIA to assist the airport doctors who are already on the job.
  • Screening is already on for the ‘yellow fever’, which is one of the five diseases spread from the ‘aedes aegypti’ mosquito. The others are dengue, chikungunya, West Nile fever and Zika.
  • The department has also asked the immigration officers to share details of all passengers who are coming into Bengaluru and Mangaluru from the 22 countries in the Americas where the virus has spread.
  • The passengers with any of the symptoms, including fever, headache, chills, joint and muscular pain and red eye, will be quarantined and taken to the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) for further medical investigation.
  • The department has identified RGICD as the nodal hospital for the purpose.
  • The passengers with symptoms will be kept under observation in mosquito-proof rooms, until they are certified to be free from infection
  • District health officers had been directed to strengthen IEC (information, education and communication) about the disease, in their respective districts. Focus will be on educating pregnant women, who are more at health risk, to protect themselves from mosquito bites. A decision will be also be taken to provide mosquito repellents to the beneficiaries of Thayi/Madilu schemes

MoU signed for new polymer research lab

  • A multi-functional centre with specialisation in product development in the polymer sector will soon come up in Bengaluru.
  • The centre is proposed to develop and conduct research in the areas of bio-polymers, bio-nano composites for packaging, bio-sensors for healthcare applications, natural fibre reinforced composites for automobile applications among others.
  • The Centre will come up under the aegis of the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology (CIPET), under the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, at a cost of Rs 87 crore with 50 per cent cost sharing by the State government.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up the research facility christened Advanced Polymer Design and Development Research Laboratory cum High Learning Centre was signed between Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology (CIPET) and the State government in the sidelines of the on-going Invest Karnataka, 2016 held in Bengaluru.

Cabinet extends panel’s term to identify deemed forest areas

  • The State Cabinet have decided to extend the term of a joint committee constituted to identify the total extent of deemed forest in the State by two months.
  • At the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, it was decided that the panel comprising members of the forest and revenue departments be given time till March 31 to provide clarifications and submit the final report.
  • An initial report prepared by an expert panel last year had categorised 9,94,881 hectares as deemed forest. However, a few departments, including the revenue, water resources and public works, did not agree with the parameters fixed by the expert panel to classify land as deemed forest.
  • Land which had no features of forest had been classified as deemed forest, it was felt. The government was also under pressure from the public and legislators, especially from the Malnad region, against evicting “encroachers” from the deemed forest areas.
  • A joint committee was then constituted to revisit the survey. The joint panel had recommended that the total extent of deemed forest in the State be reduced to 5,00,611 hectares. At the Cabinet meeting, it was decided that the joint panel should be given more time to clarify certain points.
  • The State government will also have to file a status report on deemed forest before the Supreme Court soon.

205 new courts

  • The Cabinet decided to establish 205 courts, including district, magistrate and civil courts, across the State at a cost of Rs 120.74 crore.
  • The State government will bear the full cost as a request to bear 50 per cent of the expenditure had been turned down by the Centre, sources added.

Survey of 1,000 madrasas from today

  • The Islamic Educational Board of India (IEBI), Karnataka chapter, will undertake a survey of madrasas in the State and bring out a detailed database to provide students the best of mainstream education and religious learning.
  • the board organised a special conference of ‘Ulema Mashaikh’ (Islamic spiritual scholars) from all districts of Karnataka, as a first step to compile the data.
  • The board is expecting no less than 1,000 madrasas in different districts of the State to come under its fold. It also plans to train a number of teachers with the help of district-level committees of Islamic scholars and mosque administrators.
  • In addition, there is a plan to offer online Islamic education to young students, housewives and all others who seek to obtain orderly and authentic sessions on the Qur’an and the Hadith.

Traffic police announce drive to evict transgenders

  • A. Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), had announced on a social networking site that the traffic police would remove transgenders begging at traffic signals after February 5.31bg_bgkcd_Tran_01_2719060f
  • Most transgenders are left with only two options to earn a living — begging or sex work
  • The LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) community has threatened an agitation against the move to evict transgenders from traffic junctions across the city even as the police are adamant about the decision that has drawn flak.
  • Other members also termed the proposed eviction drive as being directed towards marginalised communities and said they would organise protests in case such a drive was conducted.

Train seized on court order

  • In an unprecedented incident, the District Principal and Sessions Court ordered seizure of the Harihar–Chitradurga–Bengaluru Passenger (train no. 56520) for the failure of the Railways to pay Rs. 1 crore as compensation to 50 farmers for acquiring their land for a project.
  • There was much drama when, as per the court’s order, authorities came to the station and made alternative arrangements for more than 100 passengers to reach their destination before seizing the train.
  • Davangere Railway Protection Force inspector Gouram Gober and Railway Additional Divisional Engineer Ramesh Mallapur rushed to the spot and appealed to the authorities to release the train in the interest of passengers. They also approached the court seeking some more time to pay the compensation.

Timeline

  • The Railways acquired land for Chitradurga–Rayadurga railway line project in 1986
  • Farmers approached court demanding more compensation in 1991 than what was awarded
  • The court orders granting more compensation in November 2015, and asks the Railways to disburse money within two months
  • On compensation not being paid, the court orders seizure of the train on January 25, 2015
  • The court authorities seize Harihar–Chitradurga– Benguluru train on February 4, 2016
  • The court gives another 45 days’ time for final settlement following an appeal

Setting up additional special courts for graft cases

  • Expressing displeasure over delay on the part of the State government in setting up additional special courts for corruption cases in Bengaluru city and Tumakuru, the High Court of Karnataka asked the State to submit details on the Law Minister’s recent statement that 205 new courts would be set up in the State.
  • Justice A.N. Venugopala Gowda issued the direction on noticing that the government has not finalised the proposal sent by the High Court’s administrative wing for setting up additional special courts for corruption cases way back in 2013.
  • Earlier, the court noted that three corruption cases were pending for trial from more than 20 years in the State while 35 cases were awaiting trial from more than 10 years, based on the statement produced by the Lokayukta police.

Poet, writer, teacher Sa.Shi. Marulayya dead05bg_bgkpm_SA_S_06_2726063f

  • Noted Kannada writer and former president of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat Sa. Shi. Marulayya (85) died of cardiac arrest at Jayadeva Institute of Cardio Vascular Sciences and Research
  • The family will donate his body to JSS Medical College in Mysuru to fulfil the last wishes of the writer
  • Born in Sasalu village of Tumakuru taluk on January 28, 1931, Marulayya created a place for himself in Kannada literature. He has about 90 works to his credit in genres such as poetry, novels, play, short story, ballets, criticism and research, biographies, portraits and edited works. He taught Kannada literature in various colleges across the State.
  • He was honoured with several awards, including Karnataka Sahitya Academy and Rajyotsava awards. He headed Kannada Sahitya Parishat from 1995 to 1998.
  • He is remembered for his poem ‘Suma Sundara Tarulategala Brindavana Leele’ rendered by Jayalakshmi P. Rao

His important works

Poetry: Shivatandava, Brindavana Leele, Chaitra Jyothi, Kengana Kallu

Novels: Hemakoota, Mahaprasadi

Play: Vijaya Vatapi

Short story: Nelada Sogadu

Ballets: Yenu Cheluvina Haadu, Shiva Leele

Criticism: Vachana Vaibhava, Veerashaiva Katha Sahitya, Masti Kavya Ondu Sameekshe

Doctorate thesis: Keladi Arasaru Mattu Kannada Sahitya

Portraits: Jnanapeetha Prashasti Vijetaru

Edited works: Seetha Vanavasa Sangraha, Hariharana Hattu Ragalegalu, Aniketana

Others: Kannada Bhasheya Charitre

100 acres handed over in Mysuru village for Film City project

  • The long-cherished dream of Sandalwood — the Film City project — has cleared the first step with the State government handing over 100 acres of land at Immavu village, near Mysuru, to the Department of Information and Public Relations for establishing the facility.
  • Plans are afoot to rope in experts and talented designers, including those from Hollywood, to conceptualise the Film City proposed to be developed as a “one-stop destination” for the A to Z of film- making.

First-ever session on women entrepreneurship

  • With exclusive industrial parks, higher subsidies and even a guidance cell specifically for women, the Karnataka government has gone all out to woo women entrepreneurs to invest in the State.
  • At the first-ever session on women entrepreneurship, during the ‘Invest Karnataka 2016’ meet
  • The State government launched the ‘Women Entrepreneur’s Guidance Cell’ as well as announced that a 100-acre women-specific tech park at Harohalli would be inaugurated on March 8 — International Women’s Day.
  • Ratna Prabha, Additional Chief Secretary, Commerce and Industries, unveiling a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the “sister city” of San Francisco, U.S. to facilitate exchange of experiences of women entrepreneurs in the two IT-intensive cities as well as a more than 50 per cent subsidy for women seeking entrepreneurship certificates in the U.S.
  • According to the Industries Department, less than 10 per cent of businesspersons are women — a figure the government hopes will increase with the exclusive tech zones.
  • Before, in government schemes, women used to be clubbed with backward classes and the physically challenged.
  • While much has changed in the business world for women, finance continues to be a challenge
  • Though welcoming the two women-specific tech parks — which are a part of a larger industrial complex — Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw cautioned against the exclusive park planned in Mysuru which would disconnect these enterprises completely from those run by men.

Skill building programmes

  • Representatives of Walmart, which is setting up 10 cash-and-carry stores in the State, as well as the furniture giant IKEA committed to skill-building programmes with emphasis for women here.
  • Number of women-run enterprises in Karnataka: 1.03 lakh
  • This is 9.7 per cent of the total industries and enterprises in the State
  • Karnataka stands third in the country in terms of women-run enterprises
  • Results of ‘women initiatives’ in five-year industrial policy
  • Since 2014, aim was to establish 21,000 women enterprises
  • In two years, 17,080 enterprises have been set up
  • In the next three years, aim is to have 47,800 more enterprises
  • Women-specific technology park at Harohalli, near Kanakapura, to be opened on March 8. Another planned at Hubballi

Fear of forest fires as heat escalates

  • Nagarahole National Park reported its first fire of the current season, with a major incident reported at Veeranahosahalli range.
  • This suggests the onset of summer, a season of forest fires. Both Nagarahole and Bandipur — as also other national parks — have a history of such fires wreaking widespread devastation.
  • Nagarahole witnessed massive fires in 2014, 2012 and 2009, as also Bandipur, which witnessed major conflagration. Though controlled burning is carried out to remove weeds and clear the jungles of deadwood to pave way for new growth after the first flush of rain, wildfires tend to destroy the ecosystem.
  • A ground fire will destroy the reptilian creatures, which will perish in the heat, while the quality of top soil will degrade over a period of years
  • Repeated fires will result in the proliferation of non-palatable grass and weeds, which cannot be consumed by herbivores. A consequence of this is that the herbivore population will abandon the degraded habitat and move in search of greener pastures. Once the herbivore population depletes, it has a direct impact on the carnivore population too, and will have a negative bearing on their population.
  • Bandipur too has a history of severe fires and the threat has been exasperated by the proliferation of weeds like lantana, Eupatorium, Ageratum conyzoides, Parthenium etc. of which lantana has been identified as the most problematic as it not only proliferates fast, but is resistant to cutting and burning.
  • It has covered more than 50 per cent of the national park area. Omkara, Beguru, Himmavad Gopalswamy Betta, Hediyala are among the areas prone to fires.

Major mineral mines to be rated for eco-friendly measures

  • The Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) is set to bring in a system of star rating for all major mineral mines in the country as a gauge of the eco-friendly measures adopted by them.
  • Mines with low rating would face the music as they have to either improve the rating through effective environment-friendly measures within a stipulated time, or close down operations
  • The rating process would begin with self-certification under which the miners themselves would fill up the details with the help of a mobile app to be launched for rating purposes. IBM officials will then visit the mining area to crosscheck the data.
  • As the rating system would throw light on the status of eco-friendly measures taken up by each of the mines, those with low rating — such as one or two stars — would be told to either improve the rating by turning eco-friendly within a stipulated time or close down operations
  • Meanwhile, Donimalai Iron Ore Mine in Ballari became the first mine in south India and second in the country to abide by the SDF, for constructing check dams to prevent soil erosion, setting up of effluent treatment plants, and turning the mined area into a green carpet.

Proposals made by Karnataka’s Labour Department to amend the Factories Act

  • Among the several changes proposed through The Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2015, and submitted to the government are changes in the long-held rule that a labourer can work for a maximum of nine hours in a day on a factory floor. It is now modified to 10.
  • This, the department says in its note, would help industries, especially multi-national companies with a five-day schedule, “meet the production targets” and have “flexibility”. When working hours exceed 48 hours in a week, workers are eligible for double wages. The maximum number of overtime hours allowed in a quarter has doubled from the existing 50 to 100 so as to not affect the “continuous process of industries.”
  • While the old definition of a “factory” was a unit that employs over 10 people (with the aid of power) or 20 people (without the aid of power), the new definition proposes to replace them with 20 and 40, respectively. This, in effect, means that those falling below this will be deemed small manufacturing units.
  • One of the contentious sections deals with allowing women to work in night shifts. Subject to conditions, especially safety, the proposed amendments allow women to work on factory floors between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. While this is already allowed in some sectors, women were not allowed night shifts on factory floors.

Ministers to get 1,000 litres of petrol a month

  • Ministers in the State government are eligible for 1,000 litres of petrol a month from February. Earlier, they were eligible for 750 litres a month.
  • The legislature, just a year ago, passed the Karnataka Ministers Salaries and Allowances (Amendment) Bill, 2015, for doubling the price it paid elected representatives. It increased salaries, pensions, and perks of incumbent and past MLAs/MLCs.
  • The monthly salary of the Chief Minister, Speaker, and Council Chairman has been increased from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 and Cabinet Ministers from Rs. 25,000 Rs. 40,000.