Karnataka issues – JUNE

Centre, state to spend Rs 575cr for Mahamastakabhisheka

  • The Karnataka government, with the assistance of the Centre, has decided to spend Rs 575 crore for organising the historical Mahamastakabhisheka of Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola, which is held once in 12 years
  • The Mahamastakabhisheka is scheduled to begin in the first week of February 2018 at Shravanabelagola, Hassan district. The events will last for 15 to 18 days.
  • This is going to be the 89th edition of the event.
  • The last Mahamastakabhisheka was held in 2006

Criteria for BPL cards to be relaxed

  • The State government has decided to simplify eligibility criteria for submitting applications as well as seeking below poverty line ration cards for households.
  • It also proposes to give bpl cards to cancer and dialysis patients owing to high cost of treatment of the diseases.
  • The parameters for identifying eligible bpl card families will be reduced from 14 criteria to just four so that ration cards will go to eligible beneficiaries without hassles and will weed out bogus ration cards by linking them with the aadhaar.
  • The government order issued in august 2013 lists 14 criteria to identify those ineligible under the scheme such as income tax payers, government employees, doctors, accountants, merchants or businessmen, those who possess three hectares of land, employees of aided and unaided schools, those paying electricity bills averaging rs. 450 a month, those who posses any vehicle with engine capacity of more than 100 cc, except autorickshaw.
  • Simplification of eligibility criteria would ease disposal of over 10 lakh pending applications.
  • There are 1.36 crore ration cardholders in the state and of them 27.15 lakh are apl cardholders.
  • After enactment of the national food security act, the centre has been releasing 2.17 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to the state every month.
  • It was decided to issue coupons to bpl cardholders at bangaloreone centres to procure kerosene and foodgrains from ration shops

NAAC grants ‘B’ grade to Gulbarga University

Gulbarga University has been granted ‘B’ grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)  the university got 2.91 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) and if it had got an overall 3 CGPA, it would have been awarded ‘A’ grade

Reasons behind the lacklustre performance by the university

  1. Shortage of teaching and non-teaching staff
  2. lack of collaboration with other universities
  3. low academic progress of students
  4. lack of required number of research works by the teaching staff
  • Steps had been initiated to overcome these shortcomings and the university had signed a memorandum of understanding with Azim Premji University and the University of Bolton in the United Kingdom for training teachers.
  • While Azim Premji University would provide academic training and upscale the teaching skills of postgraduate and undergraduate teaching staff in Bidar, Kalaburagi and Raichur districts, the University of Bolton would provide technical knowhow and training to upscale the teaching skills of D.Ed., B.Ed. and M.Ed. teaching staff at the university and affiliated colleges.
  • The Union government had released Rs. 10 crore as the first instalment of the Rs. 20 crore sanctioned under the Rashtriya Uchatar Shikshan Abhiyan (RUSA) and the balance was expected soon.
  • Apart from this, the university had submitted a fresh proposal for Rs. 40 crore under the RUSA under the science faculty for the development of state- of-the-art laboratory facilities through a research project titled ‘Studies on natural bio-molecules for human welfare’ undertaken by Prof. Niranjana.
  • The Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology services had granted a Rs. 1 crore for an interdisciplinary biotechnology finishing school

About NAAC:

  • The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an organisation that assesses and accredits institutions of higher education in India.
  • It is an autonomous body funded by University Grants Commission of Government of India headquartered in Bangalore.
  • NAAC was established in 1994 in response to recommendations of National Policy in Education (1986).
  • This policy was to “address the issues of deterioration in quality of education”, and the Plan of Action (POA-1992) laid out strategic plans for the policies including the establishment of an independent national accreditation body

The seven criteria based on which the grading is done are:

  1. Promotion of Research
  2. Resource Mobilization for Research
  3. Research Facilities
  4. Research Publications and Awards
  5. Consultancy
  6. Extension Activities and Institutional Social Responsibility
  7. Collaborations

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)

  • Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), launched in 2013 aims at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions.
  • The central funding (in the ratio of 60:40 for general category States, 90:10 for special category states and 100% for union territories) would be norm based and outcome dependent.
  • The funding would flow from the central ministry through the state governments/union territories to the State Higher Education Councils before reaching the identified institutions.
  • The funding to states would be made on the basis of critical appraisal of State Higher Education Plans, which would describe each state’s strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.

Objectives

  • Improve the overall quality of state institutions by ensuring conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adopt accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework.
  • Usher transformative reforms in the state higher education system by creating a facilitating institutional structure for planning and monitoring at the state level, promoting autonomy in State Universities and improving governance in institutions.
  • Ensure reforms in the affiliation, academic and examination systems.
  • Ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions and ensure capacity building at all levels of employment.
  • Create an enabling atmosphere in the higher educational institutions to devote themselves to research and innovations.
  • Expand the institutional base by creating additional capacity in existing institutions and establishing new institutions, in order to achieve enrolment targets.
  • Correct regional imbalances in access to higher education by setting up institutions in unserved & underserved areas.
  • Improve equity in higher education by providing adequate opportunities of higher education to SC/STs and socially and educationally backward classes; promote inclusion of women, minorities, and differently abled persons.

Mobile Matsyadarshini (fish canteen)

  • A mobile fish kiosk was inaugurated at Matsyadarshini in Cubbon Park by Fisheries Minister Pramod Madhwaraj
  • The Karnataka Fisheries Development Corporation Ltd launched the facility on an experimental basis under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana
  • The vehicle stores and sells different varieties of fish. The vehicle, a modified mini truck, is equipped with an overhead water tank, chiller and has space for dry and wet waste.
  • A similar mobile kiosk selling sea food called ‘Mobile Matsyadarshini’ was launched in Mangaluru during the Matsya Mela in March.
  • Mobile canteen will supply fresh and value added products of fish to customers.
  • The mobile vehicle has a refrigerator, equipment for fish storage, electric grills for frying the fish, overhead tank to supply water and facility to collect the fish waste and other necessities.
  • All the systems inside the vehicle are battery operated.

Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana

  • It is a State Plan Scheme of Additional Central Assistance launched in August 2007 as a part of the 11th Five Year Plan by the Government of India. Launched under the aegis of the National Development Council
  • It seeks to achieve 4% annual growth in agriculture through development of Agriculture and its allied sectors
  • This scheme is essentially a State Plan Scheme that seeks to provide the States and Territories of India with the autonomy to draw up plans for increased public investment in Agriculture by incorporating information on local requirements,geographical/climatic conditions, available natural resources/ technology and cropping patterns in their districts so as to significantly increase the productivity of Agriculture and its allied sectors and eventually maximize the returns of farmers in agriculture and its allied sectors.
  • Presently, six sub-schemes are being implemented as sub-schemes under RKVY during 2014-15. These sub-schemes and their allocations are:-
  1. Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern Region
  2. Initiative on Vegetable Clusters
  3. National Mission for Protein Supplements
  4. Saffron Mission
  5. Vidharbha Intensive Irrigation Development Programme
  6. Crop Diversification

Panel on crimes on women, kids seeks another extension

  • Despite missed deadlines and repeated extensions, the expert committee to prevent crimes on women and children constituted by the government, has failed to submit its final report.
  • The committee’s term came to an end and it has sought yet another extension. This is the fourth such extension sought by the committee, which was given a timeframe of six months to submit its report.
  • Several instances of rapes, especially on minors, prompted the government to set up the committee in October 2014.
  • Committee chairperson: MLC V S Ugrappa

Samrakshanesoftware for crop insurance

  • Samrakshane’, a software application for online registration of farmers for crop insurance scheme was launched by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
  • The software provides for online registration of farmers from the state for Karnataka Raita Suraksha Pradhana Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather-based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS).
  • This provides financial support to farmers suffering from crop loss or damage arising out of unforeseen events and disasters.
  • The state government has earmarked Rs 675.38 crore as the state’s share for the project launched recently by the Centre
  • The software has been developed by National Informatics Centre.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Objective: The scheme aims to bring 50% farmers under the scheme within next 2-3 years.

Scheme:

  • The scheme covers kharif, rabi crops as well as annual commercial and horticultural crops
  • There will be one insurance company for the whole state. Private insurance companies will be roped along with Agriculture Insurance Company of India Limited (AIC) to implement the scheme
  • New scheme will cover post-harvest losses apart from yield loss.
  • It will also provide farm level assessment for localised calamities including hailstorms, unseasonal rains, landslides and inundation.
  • The scheme proposes mandatory use of remote sensing, smart phones and drones for quick estimation of crop loss to speed up the claim process.
  • The settlement of claims will be fastened for the full sum assured. About 25% of the likely claim will be settled directly on farmers account. There will not be a cap on the premium and reduction of the sum insured.

What is new in this scheme?

  • It is open to all farmers but NOT mandatory to anyone.
  • It is optional for loanee as well as non-loanee farmers.
  • It has so far lowest premium. The existing premium rates vary between 2.5% and 3.5% for kharif crops and 1.5% for rabi crops—but the coverage was capped, meaning farmers could, at best, recover a fraction of their losses. The farmers’ premium has been kept at a maximum of 2 per cent for food grains and up to 5 per cent for annual commercial horticulture crops. For rabi crops, it is 1.5%. The balance premium will be paid by the government to provide full insured amount to the farmers. Since there is no upper cap on government subsidy, even if the balance premium is 90 percent, the government will bear it
  • This scheme provides full coverage of insurance. While NAIS had full coverage, it was capped in the modified- NAIS scheme.
  • It also covers the localized risks such as hailstorm, landslide, inundation etc. Earlier schemes did not cover inundation.
  • It provides post-harvest coverage. The NAIS did not cover while the modified NAIS covered only coastal regions.

Karnataka to buy 1,000 MW solar power from SECI

  • Amid worsening power situation, Karnataka is turning to solar power to bridge the shortage in its energy demand and supply.
  • Five state-run utility providers in Karnataka signed an agreement to purchase 1,000 megawatt (MW) of solar power from Union government’s Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI)
  • The solar power will be just enough to meet the gap between demand and supply of power in normal weather conditions in the state
  • The agreement will allow the state to get solar power at Rs.4.50 per unit, almost comparable to the rate at which the government buys power from other conventional sources
  • The move comes at a time when Karnataka, especially its capital city and India’s Silicon Valley Bengaluru, is reeling under severe power shortage
  • The state has been struggling to meet its total power demand of more than 12,000 MW, of which almost 25% is consumed by Bengaluru, as the supply from its 21 power-generation stations, primarily hydel and thermal plants, was fluctuating drastically with the onset of drought and with reservoirs going empty last year.
  • For instance, they were producing only 3,000 to 4,000 MW daily against a total capacity of 9,021 MW last October, according to the energy department.
  • As a result, the government had forced some industries to go for a one-day power holiday every week in Bengaluru until recently. The same period also saw long power outages becoming a new normal in Bengaluru, hurting start-ups and people alike
  • According to government estimates, power will start trickling in from SECI to local utilities within the next 18 months.
  • The 25-year purchase agreements show that SECI, which is dedicated to implement the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and encourage the use of solar energy across the country, has sub-contracted the generation and supply to 10 private companies, providing a viability gap funding of Rs.1 crore per MW.

Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI)

  • Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI) is a company under the administrative control of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), established on 20 September 2011 to facilitate the implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and the achievement of targets set therein.
  • It is the only CPSU dedicated to the solar energy sector.
  • The mandate of the company has also been broadened to cover the entire renewable energy domain
  • The company is responsible for implementation of a number of government schemes, major ones being the VGF schemes for large-scale grid-connected projects under JNNSM, solar park scheme and grid-connected solar rooftop scheme, along with a host of other specialised schemes such as defence scheme, canal-top scheme, Indo-Pak border scheme etc.
  • In addition, SECI has ventured into solar project development on turnkey basis for several PSUs.
  • The Union Cabinet gave its approval to renaming Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) as the Renewable Energy Corporation of India (RECI)
  • SECI will become RECI after change of its name and then will take up development of all segments of renewable energy namely, geo-thermal, off-shore wind, tidal etc. apart from solar energy

Karnataka-Comprehensive Area Scheme (CSA)

  • In an effort to help government-run transport entities, the Karnataka State Transport Authority (KSTU) has come out with a Comprehensive Area Scheme (CSA) for the entire state that bans new permits to private bus operators. 
  • This will help KSRTC, NWKRTC, NEKRTC to ply umpteen buses on any route
  • The move will help state transport undertakings, including the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), get an exclusive right to ply as many buses as they wish on as many routes as possible.
  • The decision to introduce the CSA is aimed at skirting the draft Road Transport Safety Bill, 2015, which provides for auctioning of routes to the highest bidder.
  • Once the CSA comes into force, state-run transport utilities will have monopoly before the enactment of the bill.
  • The draft bill states that even state transport undertakings must compete with private bus operators to get a route permit from the KSTU.
  • Why this move: Private operators have a strong lobby. It’s very difficult for the KSRTC, the NEKRTC and the NWKRTC to compete with them.  Section 343 (Repeal and Savings) of the proposed bill says that permits cannot be auctioned if the area is nationalised. Keeping this in mind, the government is introducing the CAS. When there are no routes available, there is no question of auction. It kills the competition and helps the KSRT
  • This decision has been taken to provide bus services to people in villages and save the public transport utilities. Only state-owned operators run buses on obligatory routes without taking profit into consideration.
  • Private operators protest : Expectedly, the move has triggered resentment among private operators who see it as an attempt to curb them in the name of law. They want the government to provide a level-playing field so that they can also serve the public. 
  • The Transport Department has invited objections from the stakeholders to the draft notification on nationalisation of area (Comprehensive Area Scheme) issued on June 10. 
    As per the draft notification, no fresh permits will be issued to private operators, though existing legal, valid permits in operation with private stage and contract carriages will be allowed to operate. Government-run transport undertakings of other states are also eligible to ply in Karnataka.
  • The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) operates under the area scheme. Once the city is brought under the area scheme, no private operator can operate under the fresh stage carriage permit. Hassan and some districts in North Karnataka also fall under the area scheme where no fresh stage carriage permits are issued to private operators. 

About Road Transport and Safety Bill:

  • It is a Bill which aims to provide a framework for safer, faster, cost effective and inclusive movement of passengers and freight in the country thus enabling the mission of ‘Make in India’.
  • It aims to save 2 lakhs lives in first 5 years due to reduction in road traffic accident deaths.
  • It also aims to improve GDP by 4% on account of increased efficiency and safety of road transport sector.
  • 10 lac Jobs will be created with increase in investment in the sector.

Salient Feature of the Bill:

The new Bill makes significant departures from the 1988 Motor Vehicle Act as it includes safety in construction, design, maintenance and use of motor vehicles and roads as a major component.

  • Provides for more stringent penalties to offenders. A graded penalty point system would now act as a deterrent and improve traffic condition whereas electronic detection and centralized information of offences would facilitate to identify repeat-offenders.
  • Proposes to introduce an independent agency called the National Road Safety Authority of India, which will be an independent, legally empowered and accountable expert lead agency. It shall be accountable to the Parliament and Central Government.
  • The establishment of State Safety Authorities which shall act in accordance with the directions issued by the National Authority.
  • unified driver licensing system in India which will be transparent. Such a system shall facilitate any time anywhere licence application mechanism in the country and mitigate duplication of licences from various regional transport offices.
  • There will be a unified vehicle registration system to enable electronic and online submission of applications for registration at any registering authority leading to real time interchange of data relating to such an activity.
  • Safety issues: Envisages for enforcement of modern safety technologies.
  • Creation of a motor vehicle accident fund for immediate relief to the accident victim. It gives special emphasis on safety of school children and security of women.
  • The setting up of a Highway Traffic Regulation and Protection Force (HTRPF).

Decision on Sadashiva recommendations only after socio-economic survey report

  • The State government would take a final decision on the A.J. Sadashiva Inquiry Commission report – that recommended reallocation of reservation among communities grouped under Scheduled Castes, only after going through the report of the socio-economic and cultural survey.
  • The survey will authentically reveal the numerical size of each community, along with their social, economic and educational conditions in relation to one another. This will enable the govt to look into the issue of reallocation of reservation among Scheduled Castes in a better way.

1,000-year-old inscription on Kapalikas found

  • A nearly 1,000-year-old rare stone inscription on Kapalikas has been discovered in Raichur district by a professor of Kannada University, Hampi.
  • This is the first time that we have an inscription that throws light on the presence of Kapalikas in South India, and in Karnataka in particular
  • Though there were references to Kapalikas in a few inscriptions found in northern India and Karnataka, there was no documentary evidence about their presence.

Kapalikas

  • Kapalikas were a mysterious cult who may have practised human sacrifice and immolation.
  • Worshippers of Bhairava, a manifestation of Shiva,
  • The inscription, found above a cave atop a hilly area, two kilometres from Maliyabad village in Raichur district, is undated.
  • However, based on the nature of the script, which is in ancient Kannada, it is presumed to be from mid 1,000 AD. The inscription also refers to a ‘Kankala Gorava’ who had mastered Soma Siddantha or Kapalika Siddantha.
  • It states that though Soma Siddanthis led a lavish life, they had a cordial relationship with the rest of society. It also claims that taking a dip in the pond and having a darshan of the deity in the cave would relieve one of sins.
  • The finding is significant especially because there is a lack of information about Kapalikas in any literature other than Sanskrit
  • a detailed study now be taken up to throw light on the presence of the Kapalika cult in various places, their culture, traditions, practices, their status in society, how they began to wane after the emergence of Veerashaivism

Derecognition of KSOU courses: NHRC seeks reports from state and UGC

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sought reports from the Karnataka government and the University Grants Commission over a decision to derecognise courses offered by the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU).
  • Intervening in the issue that could affect around nine lakh students, the NHRC asked the Karnataka Education Secretary and UGC officials to reply to its notice within four weeks about the issue involving the Mysuru-based KSOU.
  • The action came on a public grievance letter received at the Commission which claimed that the future of these students is at stake due to the UGC decision
  • In the letter, the NHRC said, it was argued that most of the poor students who could not afford to pursue courses from regular universities opted for distance learning programme offered by the KSOU.
  • “They are in a dilemma, as to what will happen if their courses are now derecognised,” the letter said.
  • About 40% candidates who have cleared an exam for the post of assistant professor, conducted by the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA), are also uncertain about their future as to what will happen if the KEA, in line with UGC guidelines, de-recognises their degrees from KSOU, Mysuru
  • The Commission observed that it is an “unfortunate situation” for the students who despite having degrees from a duly recognised university are, in a way, being subjected to cruelty due to want of clarity in the matter. “It amounts to violation of their Right to Education and Equality as their future is at stake due to the proposed derecognition of some KSOU courses by the UGC after 2012-13,” the Commission said.
  • University Grants Commission has de-recognized the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), Mysore, for offering programmes through distance learning mode by ‘blatantly flouting the norms’.
  • KSOU, in collaboration with private institutions/ entities/coaching centres spread all over the country and even abroad, has been offering programmes through distance learning mode by blatantly flouting the norms, guidelines and directives of UGC and erstwhile Distance Education Council (DEC) of Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi
  • The university remained undeterred and continued to offer programmes through distance learning mode in violation of the UGC policy on territorial jurisdiction vide UGC public notice dated 27 June 2013
  • It has also been offering professional/technical programmes in violation of the norms of the concerned regulatory bodies and without their approval.
  • The university has also started offering online programmes, which are not recognised by UGC, as an exclusive method of distance education

Karnataka State Open University

  • The Karnataka State Open University established in June 1996 is considered to be a reputed Open University amongst the open learning institutions in the country.
  • Karnataka State Open University was formally established on June 1, 1996 under the Karnataka State Open University Act of 1992, with the objectives of introducing and promoting the system of open university and distance learning in the state of Karnataka, and coordinating and determining the standard of such a system in the state.
  • The University has its headquarters in Mysore.
  • The objective is to provide education to people who cannot attend full-time or part-time educational courses offered by universities
  • The distance education programmes of Karnataka State Open University provide opportunities to working professionals who cannot afford full-time education to earn degrees or diplomas
  • The Karnataka State Open University originally started as the Institute of Correspondence Course and Continuing Education, a wing of University of Mysore.
  • The Karnataka State Open University is the 8th Open University to be established in India.
  • The university has initiated several ambitious programmes on its infrastructure front to facilitate rapid realization of its vision of a “virtual university”, including the recent launch of Web Virtual Classroom based MBA programs with a partner Institute.
  • It now offers wide-ranging programmes leading to degrees from the graduate level to the doctoral level and also offers a variety of diploma and certificate programmes
  • The university is now in the process of introducing multi-level, inter-linked programmes in information technology, apart from several specialized programmes in different areas of contemporary value and interest, in collaboration with the Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi..
  • Vice-Chancellor: Prof. D. Shivalingaiah

Frame guidelines for conferring Rajyotsava award: HC

  • The High Court on Thursday directed the state government to either frame guidelines for conferring Rajyotsava award or discontinue the award itself.
  • It expressed displeasure over government not framing guidelines for conferring the prestigious award over the past 60 years.
  • B V Satyanarayana Rao, a writer had approached the court seeking directions to the government to consider his application for the award.
  • Justice S Abdul Nazeer said the Rajyostava award is a prestigious state honour and if it is conferred without framing any guidelines, it is as good as any private award where anybody and everybody is felicitated.

Rajyotsava Prashasti

  • The Rajyotsava Awards, the second highest civilian honor of the Karnataka state are conferred annually by the Karnataka Government on the occasion of the birth of Karnataka State on November 1 celebrated as Kannada Rajyotsava.
  • The awards celebrate achievements by persons of eminence in their chosen fields.
  • The awardees are from the fields of literature, music, dance, theatre, journalism, sports, medicine, education, agriculture, Information Technology and Science.
  • Each award carries an amount of Rs. 100,000, a shawl, a citation and a memento. In addition to that, the government allots commercial land for eligible awardees.

Karnataka Ratna

  • Karnataka Ratna is the highest civilian honour of the State of Karnataka.
  • It is awarded to a person for his extraordinary contribution in any field. It was constituted in the year 1992
  • by the Government of Karnataka. There have been a total of 9 recipients of this award.
  • Kuvempu was the first recipient of this award for his contribution in the field of literature. Subsequently it has been awarded to Rajkumar, S. Nijalingappa, C. N. R. Rao, Bhimsen Joshi, Sree Sree Shivakumara Swamiji, Javare Gowda and Veerendra Heggade

Caste census to finish in another month

  • The extensive socio-economic survey (caste census) by Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission (KSBCC) will take another month to complete as the survey details from eight districts are yet to come.
  • H Kantharaja, chairman of KSBCC, said that survey figures are yet to be received from Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Ballari, Dharwad, Haveri, Chamarajanagar, Vijayapura, Bagalkot and Raichur
  • The department had earlier set April 30 as the deadline for completing the survey.
  • The survey’s main objective is to collect statistics on social, educational and occupational status of all classes/castes, validate with other databases like Aadhaar, electoral photo identity card (EPIC), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, ration cards and bringing out development schemes based on the results.
  • The last time such extensive survey was conducted was in 1931. The survey involves questionnaires with questions ranging on education, social status, occupational status and others.
  • Making the results of the survey public or not is for the government to decide

Yaduveer Wadiyar marries Trishika Kumari in Mysuru

  • Amid royal splendour, scion of Wodeyar royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar entered into a wedlock with Trishika Kumari Singh in a traditional ceremony at the iconic Amba Vilas Palace.
  • The wedding was officiated by a battery of priests in the presence of about 1,000 guests at the specially decorated ‘Kalyana Mantapa’ in the palace
  • Trishika is the daughter of Harshvardhan Singh and Maheshri Kumari from the Dungarpur royal family in Rajasthan.
  • Marriage rituals have been underway with the stamp of royal traditions. It began with Yaduveer performing ‘pada puja’ to ‘Rajaguru’ Bramhatantra Parakala mutt seer Abhinava Vageesha Brahmatantra Swatantra Swami.
  • 24-year-old Boston-educated Yaduveer, the 27th ‘King’ of Wodeyar dynasty tied the nuptial knot with Trishika in the auspicious ‘Karkataka lagna’
  • In a traditional ceremony on May 28 last year, Yaduveer was crowned as the titular head of the erstwhile Mysuru royal family. Later during Dasara he had ascended the golden throne to preside over the ‘khasa (private) durbar’, which is reminiscent of the bygone era.
  • Colourful royal head gears, both Rajput and Mysuru style, added charm to the wedding. A lavish spread of south Indian delicacies was served to the invitees.

Mysuru to have India’s first public bicycle sharing service

  • The Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) is all set to introduce public bicycle sharing service in and around the city’s tourist hot spots.
  • With this, Mysuru will be the first city in the country to have such a service.
  • The MCC is introducing bicycle service to ease visitors’ journey and check pollution.
  • the civic body will introduce the service by spending about Rs 20 crore under the World Bank’s Global Environmental Facility project.
  • Under this project, 450 normal bicycles will be stationed at 45 docking stations in the city and 10 stations on the outskirts.
  • The docking stations are planned near the railway and bus stations, Jaganmohan Palace, Mysuru Zoo, Amba Vilas Palace, Karanji Lake, Chamundi Hills, Airport, among other places.
  • The MCC will introduce a smart card system for cycle users. One can hire a cycle by swiping the card at any of the docking stations and leave it at another station after the ride.
  • As a security measure, each bicycle will be fitted with a radio frequency tag to trace it. City-based Green Wheel Ride, bicycle manufacturers, will provide the cycles.
  • A rent of Rs five and Rs 10 will be charged for the first one and two hours respectively

The World Bank Group-Global Environment Facility (GEF) Program

  • The World Bank Group-Global Environment Facility (GEF) Program is one of the institution’s largest and longest standing trust-funded programs
  • Since 1991, when the World Bank helped to establish the GEF, it has integrated global environmental benefits across the Bank programs through more than 790 investment projects and programs in 120 countries (pdf) spanning every region of the world.
  • GEF grants directly support actions to combat major environmental issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, polluted international waters, land degradation and desertification, and persistent organic pollutants, as well as stimulate green growth.
  • The World Bank Group program has collectively channeled over $4.8 billion (representing 38 percent of total GEF funding disbursed) in GEF grants to the private sector, NGOs, and client countries over the past two decades, and stands out among for its sustained track record in helping design and support implementation of innovative and tailored solutions to complex multi-sector challenges.
  • Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment.
  • The GEF also serves as financial mechanism for the following conventions:
  1. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  2. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  3. UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  4. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
  5. Minamata Convention on Mercury
  6. The GEF, although not linked formally to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MP), supports implementation of the Protocol in countries with economies in transition.

Excessive use of pesticide killing peacocks in Haveri

  • Excess use of pesticide has been posing a threat to the lives of peacocks in Haveri district as hundreds of birds have died in the recent past after farmers took up sowing operations.
  • Bird lovers have raised an alarm for the protection of peacocks after several birds died in Byadagi taluk by consuming seeds containing high amount of chemicals and fertilisers in the fields
  • Rising human interference and lack of adequate financial resources has jeopardised the prospects of the Peacock Conservation Reserve in Bankapur.
  • Poaching has also been posing a threat to the peacocks as a large number of birds roam in agricultural land outside the reserve.
  • The state government has declared 139-acres of forest land in Bankapur as a conservation reserve in 2006 after conducting a census. High mounds and deep trenches in the reserve has become an ideal location for peacock breeding.
  • Situated two km away from NH 4 in Shiggaon taluk, the animal husbandry department, that owns the entire land, has been extending assistance with its limited financial resources for conservation and breeding of the national bird
  • But, increase of people’s movement and infrastructure development near the conservation reserve has been causing disturbance to the peacocks. This has raised concern among bird lovers who are demanding adequate protection for the peacocks after several birds died due to pesticide poisoning.
  • Last year, Bombay Natural History Society had placed the peacock reserve among ten important habitats of birds in the country that are facing danger due to rapid urbanization and rising insensitivity towards nature

Bombay Natural History Society

  • The Bombay Natural History Society, founded on 15 September 1883, is one of the largest non-governmental organisations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research
  • It supports many research efforts through grants and publishes the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society.
  • The BNHS logo is the great hornbill, inspired by a great hornbill named William, who lived on the premises of the Society from 1894 until 1920

Community Reserves

  • Community Reserves can be declared by the State Government in any private or community land, not comprised within a National Park, Sanctuary or a Conservation Reserve, where an individual or a community has volunteered to conserve wildlife and its habitat.
  • As in the case of a Conservation Reserve, the rights of people living inside a Community Reserve are not affected.

Cabinet approves 4-laning of Hubli-Hospet section of NH-63 in Karnataka

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the development of four laning of Hubli-Hospet Section of NH-63 in Karnataka.
  • The cost is estimated to be Rs.2272.20 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 144 kms.
  • This work will be done under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-IV on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) basis.
  • The project will help in expediting the improvement of infrastructure in Karnataka and in reducing the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Hubli and Hospet section.
  • The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of this region in the state. It would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities.
  • The project was earlier approved on BOT (Toll). Bids were invited for the project three times and one more time with increased Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
  • However, no bids were received. As such, it was decided to implement the project through EPC mode.

Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC):

A contractual arrangement whereby the concessionaire undertakes the construction, including financing, of a given infrastructure facility, and the operation and maintenance thereof. The concessionaire operates the facility over a fixed term during which it is allowed to charge facility users appropriate tolls, fees, rentals, and charges not exceeding these proposed in its bid or as negotiated and incorporated in the contract to enable the concessionaire to recover its investment, and operating and maintenance expenses in the project. The concessionaire transfers the facility to the Government Agency or Local Government unit concerned at the end of the fixed term.

EPC mode of investment relies on assigning the responsibility for investigations, designs and construction to a private contractor for a lump sum money provided by the government via a competitive bidding. The objective is to ensure the implementation of the project with a certainty on cost and time while transferring the construction risk to the private contractor.

The National Highways Development Project

The National Highways Development Project is a project to upgrade, rehabilitate and widen major highways in India to a higher standard. The project was implemented in 1998 under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “National Highways” account for only about 2% of the total length of roads, but carry about 40% of the total traffic across the length and breadth of the country. This project is managed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) under the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways.

The project is composed of the following phases:

  1. Phase I: The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ; 5,846 km) connecting the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
  2. Phase II: North-South and East-West corridors comprising national highways connecting four extreme points of the country.
  3. Phase III: The government recently approved NHDP-III to upgrade 12,109 km (7,524 mi)of national highways on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis, which takes into account high-density traffic, connectivity of state capitals via NHDP Phase I and II, and connectivity to centres of economic importance
  4. Phase IV: The government is considering widening 20,000 km (12,000 mi) of highway that were not part of Phase I, II, or III. Phase IV will convert existing single lane highways into two lanes with paved shoulders.
  5. Phase V: As road traffic increases over time, a number of four lane highways will need to be upgraded/expanded to six lanes. The current plan calls for upgrade of about 5,000 km (3,100 mi) of four-lane roads
  6. Phase VI: The government is working on constructing expressways that would connect major commercial and industrial townships.
  7. Phase VII: This phase calls for improvements to city road networks by adding ring roads to enable easier connectivity with national highways to important cities.

Rare stone inscription on ‘Kapalikas’ found in Karnataka

  • A nearly 1,000-year-old rare stone inscription on Kapalikas (worshippers of Bhairava, a manifestation of Shiva) was found in Raichur district by a professor of Kannada University, Hampi.
  • This is the first time that we have got an inscription that throws light on the presence of Kapalikas in South India in general and Karnataka in particular
  • According to him, though there were references to Kapalikas in a very few inscriptions found in northern India as well as Karnataka, there were no documentary evidences about their presence.
  • Kapalika was a mysterious cult known for human sacrifice and immolation among other things
  • The inscription, found above a cave atop a hilly area, two km away from Maliyabad village in Raichur district, is undated. However, based on the nature of the script, which is in ancient Kannada, it is presumed to be from mid 1,000 AD
  • The finding assumes significance especially in the wake of the lack of information about Kapalikas in any literature in Indian language, except Sanskrit
  • With the help of the inscription a detailed study will throw light on the presence of Kapalika cult in various places, their culture, traditions, practises, issues related to their status in the society, how they began to wane after the emergence of Veerashaivism and the like

About Kapalika

  • The Kāpālika tradition was a non-Puranic, tantric form of Shaivism in India whose members wrote the Bhairava Tantras, including the subdivision called the Kaula Tantras.
  • These groups are generally known as Kāpālikas, the “skull-men,” so called because, like the Lākula Pāsupata, they carried a skull-topped staff (khatvanga) and cranium begging bowl
  • The Kapalikas means worshippers of Kapalin, the skull bearer, a name of Shiva

Mangaluru City airport to get advanced air navigation services equipment

  • Mangaluru International Airport under the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will provide air navigation services to aeroplanes with more sophisticated equipment.
  • Modern equipment being installed at the airport now would provide enhanced safe navigation services to flights.
  • The airport is in the process of replacing its three main navigation equipment. They are very high frequency omni directional radio range equipment, monopulse secondary surveillance radar and instrument landing system (ILS).

Karnataka bans sale of e-cigarettes

  • The State government imposed a ban on sale (including online) and use of e-cigarettes in the State, based on the recommendations of the State high powered committee on tobacco control. A notification in this regard has also been issued.
  • Battery-powered cartridges are used in e-cigarettes to produce a nicotine-laced vapour.
  • Two years ago, the State government had imposed a similar ban on sale and use of gutkha and paan masala.
  • According to a member of the high powered committee, Karnataka is the first State to impose such a ban. Punjab, Maharashtra and Chandigarh had earlier passed enforcement orders on unapproved sale of e-cigarettes
  • The sale of nicotine, apart from tobacco products under Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), is permitted only for tobacco cessation in accordance with the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. However, this clause is being misused by companies. It is unfortunate that e-cigarettes are sold in medical shops and even online
  • The decision has been taken on the recommendation of the committee on cancer prevention
  • Study was conducted by the committee with an NGO on e-cigarettes, which said large number of youngsters was getting addicted to it.
  • 2mg and 4 mg nicotine is allowed in chewables like nicotine gum for de-addiction purpose, but these e-cigarettes usage is leading to addiction towards it
  • E-cigarettes mimic the size and shape of cigarettes and contain a cartridge containing liquid, which includes nicotine (up to 36 mg/ML) among other chemicals (usually propylene glycol or glycerol).
  • The government, in a circular, said the state has knowledge that Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems or e-cigarette and other similar products have been sold illegally (including online sale), without a obtaining valid license from appropriate authority specified by law.
  • It also pointed out that the use of nicotine in food products and consumption by public is banned under Food Safety and Standard Act 2006 and Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulation 2011.
  • Nicotine is allowed as an aid for de-addiction in nicotine replacement therapy under Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, it is not allowed for any other purpose under law.
  • Therefore, the state government hereby prohibits the sale (including online sale), manufacture, distribution, trade, import and advertisement of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, its parts and components in any shape or size of cartridges containing nicotine in the interest of public
  • The Indian Medical Association had in January discouraged the use of electronic cigarettes to cut down on smoking as these disguised forms of tobacco can have “serious” long-term effects on health.
  • IMA believes that e-cigarettes, though not as harmful as normal cigarettes, are not healthy and their use should not be encouraged. Like hookahs, they are disguised forms of tobacco addiction and can have serious long-term effects on one’s health

What is an e-cigarette?main-qimg-7cc837c07ca73c4ff87aa202ba6adc42

An electronic cigarette (e cigarette or e-cig or ecig) is an electrical device that contains a cartridge with liquid (eliquid), heater (atomizer) and battery. These sub units collectively produce a vapor when inhaled. The battery supplies required power to the atomizer, which in turn heats eliquid in the cartridge to produce a vapor. The produced vapor has the sensation and appearance of real tobacco smoke which provides the feel of tobacco smoking to the users although there is NO TOBACCO in e-cigarettes. Vapors come with different flavors and nicotine strengths. Using an e-cigarette is called vaping. Vaping is allowed in public places in most countries.

Chief minister inducts new ministers into the government

  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah inducted 13 new faces into his council of ministers.
  • He also dropped 14 ministers, amid brewing dissidence in the Congress party.
  • Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers at the Raj Bhavan.
  • There are nine Cabinet-rank ministers and four ministers of state.
  • Prominent among the new ministers are former speakers Kagodu Thimmappa and K R Ramesh Kumar, known for their caustic remarks against the Siddaramaiah government.
  • Of the 13 new ministers, four belong to the erstwhile janata parivar – Ramesh Kumar, Santosh Lad, H Y Meti and Basavaraj Rayareddy. MLC M R Seetharam, whose family owns the M S Ramaiah group of educational institutions, has been inducted.

New ministers include Kagodu Thimmappa, H Y Meti, K R Ramesh Kumar, Basavaraj Rayareddy, M R Seetharam,Rudrappa M Lamani, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Priyank Kharge, Eshwar, heemanna Khandre, Tanveer Sait, Mallikarjun S S, Pramod Madhwara, and Santhosh S Lad,

‘Thithi’ shines at Shanghai film festival

  • Kannada film ‘Thithi’ won Asia New Talent Awards for best film and best script writer during the ongoing 19th Shanghai International Film Festival in China.
  • ‘Thithi’ is a light-hearted story about three generations of men reacting to the death of the family’s 101-year-old patriarch. The film’s cast were non-professional actors from Indian villages, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
  • The film, written by Raam Reddy and Ere Gowda, is directed by the former.
  • It is an Indian-American co-production, jointly produced by Pratap Reddy from Prspctvs Productions and Sunmin Park from Maxmedia.
  • The film premiered at the 68th Locarno International Film Festival on August 8, 2015.
  • It won the Golden Leopard in the Filmmakers of the Present category for Reddy and the Swatch First Feature award.
  • It received numerous other awards at film festivals held in Mumbai, Palm Springs, Marrakech and various other cities
  • It recently won three Karnataka state film awards in best film, best supporting actress and best dialogue category.
  • Thithi’ was adjusted as the best feature film in Kannada at the national level last year.

BMTF to be empowered to act tough on illegal hoardings

  • The Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) will be given more powers to check the menace of illegal hoardings.
  • It was decided that stringent action will be taken against those putting up illegal hoardings in the city.
  • Police protection will be provided while removing the advertisement boards and any attack on the staff will be dealt with strictly.
  • It was also decided that the government agencies should work in tandem to initiate action against illegal hoardings with the help of BMTF.
  • The police department has also decided to initiate legal action against those who print/publish the advertisements
  • Those indulging in such activities will face six months jail term.
  • An extensive drive will be launched with the help of police to remove illegal hoardings, banners, flexes and other display materials in the city.

Award for saviours of accident victims- Jeeva Rakshaka Award

  • The state government has decided to institute the ‘Jeeva Rakshaka’ award starting this year to those who save the lives of accident victims.
  • The move is aimed at implementing the Mukhyamantri Santwana – Harish Scheme that aims at providing immediate and instant medical treatment road accident victims during golden hour effectively.
  • The annual state level Jeeva Rakshak award will be decided considering the gravity of accident and the service rendered by the rescuers across the state
  • The department also chalking out plans to book criminal cases against those who videograph the plight of victims at the accident spots instead of taking initiatives to help the person

Now, baby food, hot milk available at 10 rail stations-Janani sewa scheme

  • Ten important railway stations in the Bengaluru division started serving baby food and hot milk under the ‘Janani Sewa’ scheme
  • Baby food will also be available at licensed milk parlours, pharmacy stores, cell kitchens and pantry cars.
  • Mothers can buy baby food at Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (Bengaluru City), Whitefield, Bengaluru Cantonment, Yeshwantpur, KR Puram, Baiyappanahalli, Ramanagaram, Mandya, Hosur and Bangarpet railway stations.
  • Hot water will also be available in pantry cars for mothers to prepare food for their babies. Tea will be served in kulhads (earthen pots) as an add-on option to the passengers.

Janani Sewa

  • In compliance of the Budget Announcement 2016-17, ’JANANI SEWA’ is being introduced on IR in order to mitigate the hardships of the mothers travelling with their infants.
  • Under this scheme, Railways shall ensure availability of essential y items like baby food, hot milk and hot water etc. at Railway Stations.

In a first, Mysuru zoo is Wi-Fi enabled

  • Now, visitors to Mysuru zoo can enjoy high-speed internet on the tap of their cellphones. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has introduced grade 5G Wi-Fi hotspots at five places inside the menagerie.
  • Nearly 1,000 users can avail Internet service simultaneously at any time, sharing the backhaul of 10 Mbps
  • For the first 30 minutes, users can acess the service for free, while they have to pay nominal fee later
  • The users can avail the service by getting one-time password provided by the operators
  • The public service provider in Karnataka is leading in carrier-grade Wi-Fi services. The services are now available at 548 hotspots in 215 locations covering 19 districts. In more than 90 villages, people are enjoying the high-speed net services made possible through National Optical Fibre Network.
  • The Karnataka circle is the first to launch mobile data service faster than 4G by Mobile Data Offloading (MDO) to Wi-Fi.
  • The MDO services are available in 102 locations with 157 access points in the state, including Mysuru zoo. BSNL has so far commissioned 67 Wi-Fi hotspots and it has planned to add nearly 1,400 hotspots during the current financial year in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar districts

 Tourist Mitras and Tourist Guides

  • The state tourism department issued licences and identity cards to the first batch of 111 tourist guides in Bengaluru
  • The first batch of 174 Tourist Mitras were inducted in November 2015
  • The department spent Rs 9 lakh on every 40 candidates to train them as guides. This included three months theory, one-month field training and foreign language courses.
  • They have been taught French and Russian languages. In the next batches, they will be taught Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.
  • The guides were trained in five universities- Visvesvaraya Technological University in Belagavi, University of Mysore, Mangalore University, Rani Channamma University in Vijayapura and Bangalore University.
  • Based on the recommendation of the Empowered Committee, the Karnataka Tourism Vision Group, 25 people from rural background were trained in English, knowledge of arts and crafts, cuisines and etiquette. Now known as tourism ambassadors, they have been employed at various hotels and travel agencies.

About Tourist Mitras and guides

  • Tourist Mitras are Home Guards who have been additionally trained to take care of tourists at 319 destinations.
  • They are being paid as per the Home Guard act, Rs 9,770 per month.
  • They have powers equivalent to a police constable. They have been given training in soft skills and the next batch will be trained to be life guards also.
  • To be tourist guides, candidates have to learn a licensed syllabus and write an examination
  • They are trained to be self-employed and can partner with travel agencies also
  • Each guide has a licensed code, to avoid duplication.
  • This will also save tourists from being misguided.

Pendency mounts as HC grapples with judges’ shortage

  • The Karnataka High Court has been functioning with less than half of the sanctioned strength of judges, leading to an increase in the pendency of litigations.
  • Of the total 62 sanctioned posts of judges in High Court, only 26 are functioning
  • Of these 26 judges, two will be retiring by the year-end leaving only 24 judges to sit in the High Court, including Dharwad and Kalaburagi benches.
  • The last appointments of judges to the High Court were made in December 2014.
  • The High Court has more than 2.50 lakh pending cases as in April 2016. The average number of days a case is pending before the court is 1,011 days.
  • Karnataka High Court ranks sixth on this count in the country, according to Bengaluru-based NGO Daksh India which analyses the functioning of the judiciary and political system.
  • According to sources, the High Court collegium had sent 18 names, 10 from the Bar and eight from the Bench for appointment as judges. The state government has not approved five names from the Bar

Digital India: villages in Mysuru now have high-speed Internet

  • Mysuru is among the five districts in the State where gram panchayats have got 100 per cent optical cable connectivity under the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN).
  • The Karnataka telecom circle of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) is commissioning the project, which ensures high-speed Internet in rural areas.
  • The project, launched under Digital India, aims to allow rural residents at speeds similar to their urban counterparts. The facility offers a bandwidth of 50 Mbps.
  • Out of the 6,954 GPs already being serviced across the country under NOFN, 2,986 are in Karnataka — the highest of any State.
  • In addition to Mysuru, the four other districts in the State where the project has been fully commissioned are Hassan, Chamarajanagar, Bengaluru North and Udupi.
  • The Karnataka circle is expected to complete the NOFN project in all the 5,631 GPs by the end of September.
  • With the project’s implementation, rural users will be able to access government services without having to go to the town or district headquarters.
  • The Karnataka circle serves 347 cities and towns and 21,992 villages in the State, with 13 lakh landline connections, five lakh broadband connections, 69 lakh mobile connections and 17,500 leased lines.
  • These connections include 23,712 numbers of high-speed Internet with optical fibre connectivity
  • BSNL said the minimum speed of most of the broadband plans has been increased to 2 Mbps since October last year.

Commission recommends safai karamchari development corporation in State

  • The Karnataka State Safai Karamchari Commission has recommended to the State government the establishment of a separate Safai Karamchari Development Corporation to extend financial assistance and take up welfare measures to the families of the safai karamcharis and pourakarmikas in the State
  • Such a corporation to provide financial help for the housing projects, extending education scholarship to the families of the purakarmikas using the funds available under the Special Component Plan and Sub Plan and also the funds provided by the commission.
  • The commission provided Rs. 6 lakh each as grant for the construction of the group housing schemes for the pourakarmikas and safai karamcharis and the remaining Rs. 1.5 lakh would be provided as loan for the construction of the houses, which the beneficiary pourakarmikas or safai karamcharis should have to pay in instalments

9 digits to better education

  • Keeping ‘vigil’ on a child’s academic performance, reducing dropouts and better management of teaching resources may soon become easier.
  • The Department of Primary and Secondary Education plans to allot a nine-digit exclusive code to each of the 1.01 crore students in classes one to ten in government, aided and unaided schools across the State. The number will be linked to several other parameters of the child.
  • Schools and Education Department officials have been asked to provide 42 parameters by the end of June. Officials say the system would facilitate tracking even if the child changes schools.

Lake revival by corporates

  • Striking up partnerships with corporate firms for rejuvenation of lakes, which the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) is now pushing for, with five firms already signing up, is a step conservationists are wary about.
  • The corporate push comes at a time a public interest litigation (PIL) by the Environment Support Group (ESG) on the privatisation of three lakes is pending before the Supreme Court.
  • The Lake Development Authority (LDA), which has now been replaced by KLCDA, has contested the second part of the Justice N.K. Patil Report that bars privatisation and commercialisation of lakes.
  • Most of the objections to the earlier model seem to have been accommodated now.
  • While LDA had leased out four lakes for 15 years without any checks on commercial exploitation, now the lakes will still be with the government agency, which will own and maintain them.
  • While LDA had leased out four lakes for 15 years without any checks on commercial exploitation, now the lakes will still be with the government agency, which will own and maintain them.
  • According to Ajay Mishra, chief executive officer of KLCDA, the MoUs include a ban on commercialisation of the lakes, putting up advertisements and collection of entry fee.
  • Each of these will have a project monitoring committee that will be set up with equal number of representatives from the contributing corporate firm, KLCDA and the custodian agency, which will monitor the spending.
  • On the day-to-day functioning of the lake, the decision of the custodian agency will be final.

Soon, UAVs to spray pesticides in arecanut plantations

  • The Central Plantation Crop Research Institute (CPCRI), Kasargod, has planned to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to ensure controlled and uniform spray of pesticides in arecanut plantations.
  • Arecanut farmers in Karnataka and Kerala are facing acute shortage of labour for activities like harvesting and for spraying pesticide . A major chunk of farmers in Malnad and coastal Karnataka region could not take up the second round of spraying copper sulphate and lime solution, commonly called mailututta in 2013, owing to incessant rain and shortage of labour.
  • This resulted in the outbreak of fruit rot disease, popularly known as koleroga, due to which there was a decline in the yield to the tune of 40 per cent.
  • The proposed UAV would provide solution to such problems by minimising the role of human labour in the operation of spraying pesticides
  • Farmers can purchase the vehicle through the village-level cooperative societies. The government can also purchase the vehicle for the custom hiring centres of agriculture equipment that it has established at hobli level and farmers can hire them on rent basis

Panel set up to study Yettinahole project

  • The State government has set up a five-member committee to study the implementation of the Yettinahole drinking water project and availability of other water resources to mitigate water woes in drought-prone Kolar and Chickballapur districts.
  • The committee, headed by A.K. Bajaj, former chairman, Central Water Commission, has been asked to submit a report within six months.
  • Besides the viability of water in the project, the committee will study the availability of water resources for drinking purposes in the Krishan valley, Mekedatu, Sharavati, Aghanashini, and supply of water by treating sewage from the Koramangala– Challaghatta valley to the two districts.
  • It will also study availability of other water resources to mitigate woes in Kolar, Chickballapur districts

South India can expect new heli-ambulance service from Oct.

  • Air-lifting critically ill patients in emergencies or organs for transplant will get extra support.
  • Starting early October, Bengaluru-based helicopter service Aviators Air Rescue plans to operate three helicopters as day-time ambulances.
  • The service includes stand-by pilots at a helicopter base, 24/7 call centre, tie-ups with hospitals and their ambulances on ground, and landing sites.
  • The chopper will take off within seven minutes of a call, cover 125 km in 30 minutes and can travel up to 400 km
  • It will be the first dedicated provider of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) in India
  • The service will be offered to State governments, rescue groups, hospitals, clinics, public and private companies; and through a subscription fee of Rs. 9,000 per individual or Rs. 18,000 for family and an insurance cover from United India Insurance.

State to announce M-sand policy soon

  • The Karnataka government would shortly announce an Manufactured sand (M-sand) policy
  • Owing to acute shortage of sand in the state, the government has decided to formulate a M-sand policy, which is the only alternative to meet the excessive demand
  • The government would aggressively promote production of manufactured sand.
  • Though M-sand is being produced, it is only available in urban centers and not in rural areas. Sand has become so scarce that constructing even small houses has become difficult. Several of the PWD works have been hit. There is a huge gap between demand and supply.
  • Hence, there is a need to promote M-Sand production
  • A total of 98 M-sand plants are operating in the state at present and 68 more plants would be started in two-three months. Meanwhile, the government would offer 10 acres of land to existing M-sand plants to double their production.
  • The price of M-sand would be 50% less compared to the price of river sand.
  • Instructions have been given to use maximum M-sand in government works
  • Quality testing laboratories would be strengthened to ensure the production of good quality M-sand and awareness programmes would also be organised to popularise its uses.

About M-Sand

  • Manufactured sand is a substitute of river for construction purposes sand produced from hard granite stone by crushing. The crushed sand is of cubical shape with grounded edges, washed and graded to as a construction material. The size of manufactured sand (M-Sand) is less than 4.75mm.
  • Manufactured sand is an alternative for river sand. Due to fast growing construction industry, the demand for sand has increased tremendously, causing deficiency of suitable river sand in most part of the word. Due to the depletion of good quality river sand for the use of construction, the use of manufactured sand has been increased.
  • Another reason for use of M-Sand is its availability and transportation cost. Since this sand can be crushed from hard granite rocks, it can be readily available at the nearby place, reducing the cost of transportation from far-off river sand bed.
  • Thus, the cost of construction can be controlled by the use of manufactured sand as an alternative material for construction. The other advantage of using M-Sand is, it can be dust free, the sizes of m-sand can be controlled easily so that it meets the required grading for the given construction.
  • Experts vouch that manufactured sand is not only a viable alternative to natural sand, but is superior in many ways. River sand is not graded properly and has excessive silt and organic impurities like coal, bones, shells, mica and silt and these can be detrimental to durability of steel and concrete, whereas manufactured sand has no silt or organic impurities.
  • Two factors determine the quality of manufactured sand; size and shape. The sand particles should not be flaky and elongated as that may make the mix weak and affect the durability and strength of the concrete.
  • Rocks with more mica content are considered not suitable for manufacturing sand.

How is it Manufactured?

  • M-Sand is cubical in shape and is manufactured using technology like High Carbon steel hit rock and then ROCK ON ROCK process which is synonymous to that of natural process undergoing in river sand information.
  • Manufacturing of sand involves three stages, crushing of stones into aggregates by VSI, which is fed into a rotopactor to crush aggregate into sand in required grain sizes. Screening is done to eliminate dust particles and washing of sand eliminates very fine particles present within. The end product will satisfy all the requirements of IS:383 Zone II and can be used in concrete and construction.
  • Only, sand manufactured by VSI crusher and rotopactor is cubical and angular in shape. Sand made by other types of machines is found to be flaky and contain higher percentage of dust. Generally, manufactured sand is classified as Zone I, Zone II, Zone III and Zone IV (i.e. coarser to finer). There is sieve designation for each zone. Gradation is made in accord with the usage of the sand. There are testing sieves, consists of 4.75mm, 2.36mm, 1.183mm, 600microns, 300 microns and 150 microns.
  • Zone I sand is used for concreting while sands Zone II to IV are used for plastering. Tests have revealed that the characteristics of mortars and concrete using M-sand as fine aggregate are superior when compared to the natural sand as fine aggregate.

Issue: It would be difficult for a layman to distinguish manufactured sand  from rock sand. Rock sand is the residue dust formed during the stone crushing. Chances of developing early cracks and weakening are more as it is devoid of required grades and not undergone adequate cleaning.

Advantages of Manufactured Sand (M-Sand) are:

  • It is well graded in the required proportion.
  • It does not contain organic and soluble compound that affects the setting time and properties of cement, thus the required strength of concrete can be maintained.
  • It does not have the presence of impurities such as clay, dust and silt coatings, increase water requirement as in the case of river sand which impair bond between cement paste and aggregate. Thus, increased quality and durability of concrete.
  • M-Sand is obtained from specific hard rock (granite) using the state-of-the-art International technology, thus the required property of sand is obtained.
  • Mortars with M-sand exhibit better workability and water retention characteristics, confirms a study held at IIS, Bangalore. For 1:4 cement mortar, to achieve 100 per cent flow the water cement ratio required is about 0.88 using M-sand whereas 1.20 using river sand. Lower water-cement ratio results in better characteristics of mortars in hardened state.

Did you know?

Pune-Mumbai expressway was completely built using manufactured sand. Runway of Thiruvananthapuram International airport, new flyover at Thakaraparambu and Palayam underpass at Thiruvananthapuram are also learnt to have constructed using M-sand.

Rajya Sabha elections: Nirmala Seetharaman, Jairam Ramesh win from Karnataka

Union Minister Nirmala Seetharaman and Congress’ Jairam Ramesh, Oscar Fernandes and K C Ramamurthy won Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka in the biennial elections highlighted by cross voting from JDS and votes for cash controversy.

Dissidence-hit JD(S) suffered a humiliating blow with eight of its MLAs cross voting in favour of Congress, with the party admitting it even before the polling deadline ended

Congress’ candidate, former IPS official K C Ramamurthy pulled off a resounding victory as he secured 52 votes, aided by the support of Independents and JDS rebel MLAs.

Congress with 122 members was assured of two seats for former Union ministers Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandes, but with a surplus of 33 votes, the party fielded Ramamurthy.

The required strength for victory is 45 votes. Nirmala Seetharaman secured 46 votes with BJP, which with 44 members was short of one vote, making up the shortfall comfortably.

A cloud of uncertainty had hung over the elections after allegations of vote for cash with “sting” operations by two TV channels, but it was ended with the Election Commission giving the go ahead, rejecting the demand for countermanding it.

About Rajya Sabha Elections

  • The Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the upper house of the Parliament of India. Membership of Rajya Sabha is limited by the Constitution to a maximum of 250 members, and current laws have provision for 245 members
  • Most of the members of the House are indirectly elected by state and territorial legislatures using single transferable votes, while the President can appoint 12 members for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services.
  • Members sit for staggered six-year terms, with one third of the members retiring every two years.
  • The Rajya Sabha seat quota for each state is fixed as per Schedule 4 of the constitution. Elections to 1/3 of these seats occur every 2 years. Let’s take an example of a state where there is Rajya Sabha election for 3 seats. Let there be only two parties in the legislative assembly. Party A has 100 seats and party B has 40 seats. Both parties can field three candidates each for the three rajya sabha seats.
  • To win a Rajya Sabha seat, a candidate should get a required number of votes. That number (quotient) is found out using the below formula.
  • Quotient = Total number of votes divided by (Number of Rajya Sabha seats + 1 ) + 1.
  • In the illustrated case, a candidate requires (140/4)+1, ie. 36 votes to win.
  • NB: Members don’t vote for each seat. If that had been the case then only the ruling party representatives would make it through. Rather, the members give preferences for each candidate (as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6). If 36 or more members choose a candidate as their first choice, he gets elected. So the Party B (opposition party in Loksabha assembly) with 40 seats can get one member elected, if the members give preference for a candidate as first preference. The ruling party (Party A) on the other hand can get 2 members elected (72 votes from their 100 members).

Renovated house of R K Narayan to open this month

  • The renovated house of Indian-English writer R K Narayan of ‘Malgudi Days’ fame, will be inaugurated as a heritage building this month end.
  • The monument would be a 110th birth anniversary gift for the writer, who made Mysuru his home, even though he was born in Tamil Nadu and died in Chennai.
  • The works on the house, which was partially demolished by a builder five years back, is almost over and needs finishing touches. The demolition was stalled by writers and activists of the city, who urged the Mysuru City Corporation and the state government to take over the structure and develop it into a memorial.
  • Even though the works were delayed for a long time, it was launched last December. Earlier, a compensation of Rs 2.4 crore was paid to Bhuvaneshwari, a granddaughter of Narayan, to part with the building.
  • The monument was being developed on the lines of Shakespeare’s memorial in the United Kingdom.
  • Narayan’s father Krishnaswamy migrated to Mysuru and thus Narayan completed his degree from Maharaja’s College in 1930. Then, he took to writing, and went on to become a celebrated writer.

After 50 years, state railway police to get more staff

  • The Karnataka government is all set to approve the State Government Railway Police’s (SGRP) major proposal of creating 1,037 posts of various ranks.
  • The proposal assumes significance as it is for the first time in the last 50 years that a recommendation is made on increasing the strength of the state’s railway police force.
  • The Police Act came into force in the country in 1861, while the Railway Police was formed in 1881.
  • The Railway Board and state government equally share the expenditure made on the railway police establishment, including recruitment and salaries.
  • At present, of the 900 sanctioned posts, 299 are vacant. Prevention and detection crimes, recovery of stolen properties and passengers’ safety at railway properties have taken a back seat in the state due to staff shortage.
  • The SGRP had discussed staff shortage with the Railway Board officers in New Delhi and the latter had asked SGRP to send a proposal for recruitment. The approval, once passed by the Finance Department, would be sent to Railway Board for final approval through general managers of zones that operate in the state

Colonial practice bites the dust; no more police orderlies

  • The State government has decided to scrap the archaic system of orderlies, where nearly 3,000 trained police constables and head constables are working as domestic help at the residences of police officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above.
  • The Home Department has decided to post orderlies as constables for regular police duty.
  • As these constables have undergone rigorous training,  steps will be taken to give them right postings. The transition would happen in a phased manner.
  • Scrapping this system was one of the main demands put forth by the constabulary that threatened “mass leave” strike last week, which eventually fizzled out.
  • However, the discontent appears to have pushed the Home Ministry into scrapping the system.
  • But given the fact that most senior officers are so used to having a 24/7 attendant, the idea of an orderly will be replaced by a group ‘D’ employee and not a trained constable as in the present system.
  • Newly appointed personnel would be called “dalayats” or “followers”.
  • These personnel would be used as domestic help for cooking, receiving telephone calls and so on. A proposal would be submitted to the Finance Department for recruitment of group ‘D’ personnel
  • Three years ago, an RTI application revealed that the State government incurs expenditure of nearly Rs. 80 crore a year for providing orderlies to police officers. Average salary, including all benefits, of a police constable and head constable is about Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh a year.
  • The Mahiti Hakku Adhyayana Kendra, Vijayanagar, Bengaluru, conducted the social audit on orderlies and it said many of them were even working for retired senior police officers illegally. Orderlies are asked to do tasks such as washing clothes, mopping floor, gardening, shopping, and taking care of dogs.

Showcasing Belagavi’s potential for IT and electronics

  • A one-day conference on “IT and Electronics” aimed at showcasing the potential of Belagavi for the promotion of IT and Electronics Clusters on the theme, “Buzzing Belagavi-The Next Global Technology Hub”, has come as a fresh initiative to attract global investments in these two specific sectors in this tier two city of North Karnataka.
  • The conference will be held at the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha
  • The event is being hosted by the Department of IT, BT and Science & Technology, and supported by Karnataka State Small Industries Development Corporation Limited, along with the Belagavi district administration, Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (KEONICS) and National Small Scale Industries Association (NSIC).
  • Leading industry associations such as NASSCOM, FICCI, IESA, CLIK, FKCCI, the Belgaum Chamber of Commerce and Industries, NKSSIA, TiE–Hubbali, KCC&I, BITA and Deshpande Foundation are also among the organisers.
  • The Department of IT, BT and S&T had taken several initiatives to promote and nurture Tier-II/III cities as the next destination for investments, where Belagavi was the most ideally located with salubrious weather conditions, infrastructure, educated and skilled human resources and is well connected by air, rail and national and State highways.
  • The Union government has selected the city for its Smart City Project, the plans of which were ready for implementation over a period of five years.

Now, corporates pitch in for Bengaluru lakes

  • The newly formed Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA), which in its earlier avatar as the Lake Development Authority (LDA) landed in a soup for leasing out four lakes in the city, repitched for contributions from the corporate sector to conserve and rejuvenate lakes.
  • In response, five firms — Biocon Ltd., Wipro Ltd, the UB Group, Mphasis India, and Sensara Engineering — signed the Expression of Interest (EoI) with KLCDA on Monday.
  • The authority would now work with corporate companies and the civic agencies to draw up detailed project reports (DPRs) for works to be taken up in the lakes. However, commercial activity, advertisements and charging any entry fee were prohibited.
  • KLCDA, which will be the custodian of lakes, will henceforth be the single window clearance agency for communities, corporates and NGOs to work for the city’s lakes.
  • Forest Department, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, and Bangalore Development Authority, made a presentation of rejuvenation works under progress and those yet to be taken up, seeking funds for projects.
  • A single corporate firm might be unable to fund the entire rejuvenation project for large lakes, which may in some cases run up to several hundred crores. To fund such projects, special purpose vehicles would be formed within the KLCDA. SPVs are likely to be floated soon for Bellandur and Varthur lakes.
  • Biocon, Wipro, & the UB Group are among the firms which have evinced interest in the initiative

Karnataka to set up food commission

  • Third State to set up a regulatory panel for food
  • Karnataka has cleared the decks for setting up the State Food Commission
    • a State-level quasi judicial regulatory body
    • to monitor issues related to the public distribution system,
    • such as the Anna Bhagya scheme of supplying foodgrains at nominal cost and supply of food to anganwadis under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
    • The chairman and members will be chosen by a committee headed by the Chief Minister.
    • The selection committee will comprise presiding officers and leaders of the Opposition of both Houses of the State legislature, and the Food Minister as its members.
    • The general public can take up any issue or grievance related to food in the public sector with the proposed commission
  • Karnataka was the third State in the country, after Bihar and Haryana, to set up such a commission under the provisions of the National Food Security Act.

Soya cultivation increases in Bidar

  • Crop like maize and soya replacing pulses seems to be the trend in many States. Pulses are slowly shifting to rabi due to the growing influence of soya and maize.
  • In Karnataka, Bidar has a larger crop area compared to Belagavi and Dharwad, the other two soya growing districts
  • Bidar has emerged as a front-runner among soya-producing districts in the State.
  • Soya bean, which covered just around 20 per cent of the cropping area five years ago, has jumped up to acquire half of the 3.4 lakh hectares (ha) of the cultivated area in the district in the kharif season.

Reasons- In brief

  • hardy crop that can survive in scarce or excess rainfall
  • qualities of ease of harvest,
  • higher yields,
  • stable prices and
  • relatively high disease resistance

Details- The change in cropping pattern-

  • Bidar has been a traditional green gram and black gram growing area. But soya is slowly replacing them for reasons ranging from climatic conditions to perceived ease of cultivation. In the last few years, we are witnessing heavy rainfall at the time of harvest of green gram and black gram, which is 60-70 days after sowing. Such showers can damage the crop, apart from making harvesting difficult. However, soya takes 110 days to mature and is not damaged by rain. In fact, it can be stored in hay stacks and thrashed a month later, to take out the pods. This is the prime reason for its popularity
  • Farmers are inter-cropping soya with red gram, to ensure ease of cultivation.
  • Soya is a rain fed crop and does not need protective irrigation.
  • An acre of soya yields 8-10 quintals while the yield of green gram and black gram are around 4-7 quintals per acre.
  • Soya is also relatively disease and pest free
  • Soya has been getting a stable price at the whole sale markets for some years now. Soya is selling at Rs. 4,000 per quintal and farmers are happy to get a return of Rs. 30,000-Rs. 35,000 per acre
  • This is partly because of the soya-based industries in neighbouring Maharashtra that need a constant supply of the crop. The Agriculture Department has sought 86,000 quintal soya seeds from the State government.

All Muzrai temples in State to get basic facilities

  • All temples in the State coming under the Muzrai Department will be provided with basic facilities, such as drinking water, toilets, and shelter. The temple authorities concerned have been asked to prepare a plan and send it to the government. The authorities could also seek kitchen and dining hall if the temples provide ‘prasada’ to devotees.
  • Executive officers of temples have been directed  to prepare a plan for development of temples. According to the directions, the Mysuru district administration issued a circular to all the temple executive officers and temple officials in Mysuru to prepare a comprehensive development plan and submit them to the administration, which in turn would send it to the government. After receiving the plans from all the temples, the Minister is expected to hold another round of meetings with officials before allocating funds for the development of the temples
  • There are 1,289 temples coming under the Muzrai Department in Mysuru. Of them, five temples are grouped under ‘A’ category while four are placed under ‘B’ category; the remaining 1,280 temples are grouped under ‘C’ category.
  • Temples that have an annual income of more than Rs. 25 lakh are classified under ‘A’ category and temples having an annual income in the range of Rs. 5 lakh to Rs.25 lakh are under ‘B’ category. Temples having an annual income of less than Rs. 5 lakh are placed under ‘C’ category.
  • The Chamundeshwari temple atop Chamundi hills, Nanjundeshwara temple in Nanjangud, the temple in Talakad, and Marinakamma temple in Periyapatna town, are placed under ‘A’ category, while Sri Rama temple in Chuchanakatte, Chikkadevamma Kunduru temple in H.D. Kote, Muguru Tripura Sundari temple and Gunjal Narasimhaswamy temple in T.Narsipur taluk are placed under ‘B’ category.
  • The State government has earmarked Rs. 150 crore for the proposed development of temples

Weather-based farm advisory system to reach taluks now

  • The country’s flagship programme of the weather forecast-based agricultural advisory system is set to become more focussed by moving to the taluk level from the present district level for greater accuracy and efficiency.
  • To begin with, the system will be implemented on a pilot basis in 100 taluks chosen from different States, of which five are from Karnataka
  • The pilot project would commence in about six months from now
  • While the weather forecast for taluk level is already available, the data related to its interpretation and farm advisory system is being put in place
  • Based on the performance of the pilot scheme, the system will be extended to all the 6,650 taluks in the country
  • The ultimate goal is to treat villages as primary units when there is adequate technical infrastructure.

Aout: The weather forecast-based advisory system

  • The weather forecast-based advisory system was launched about three years ago on a low-key basis, with only 500 farmers opting for its services.
  • In the system, the registered farmers will get two advisories a week in the form of SMSes on their mobile phones on the dos and don’ts on farming operations based on the weather forecast.
  • While each SMS costs around 75 paise, the Centre bears the entire cost of the system.
  • 1.5 crore farmers registering for the services.
  • Under Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa project (GKMS), India Meteorological Department, Ministry of Earth Science in collaboration with State Agricultural Universities /Indian Council of Agricultural Research etc. is issuing crop and location specific weather based agro advisories for the benefit of farming community on every Tuesday and Friday and occurrence of extreme weather
  • They have been successful in providing the crop specific advisories to the farmers at the district level through different media like print/visual/Radio/ IT based including short message service (SMS) and Integrated Voice Response System (IVRS) for a wider dissemination.

Fact Box:Did you know?

For the benefit of fisherman community, a satellite-based application for the fishermen community of the country, called “Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) Advisories“, is being generated and provided on using the satellite data and Geographic Information System (GIS) tools since 1999 useful for location of fish grounds/aggregation .

In addition, the Ocean State Forecast (OSF) (wave height and direction, wind speed and direction, ocean currents, sea surface temperature, depth of mixed layer and thermo cline, sea level at major and minor ports, etc. is also being provided to fisherman.

National framework for malaria elimination launched in Karnataka 7-Tips-for-Malaria-Prevention

  • The Health Department launched the National Framework for Malaria Elimination in India programme in Karnataka
  • The World Health Organisation is committed to eradicating malaria by 2030.
  • Keeping this as the target, the Union government has taken a decision to work towards eliminating malaria in the whole country by 2025.
  • All the States are formulating a framework to meet this
  • Under the programme, States have been classified into various categories based on disease prevalence.
  • Karnataka falls into medium transmission category because of high number of cases reported from the two districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.
  • The Karnataka Health Department is trying to go to category 1 (low transmission) by next year
  • As many as 11,341 cases of malaria were reported in the State in 2015.
  • For districts where more cases are reported, a two-pronged strategy is adopted—implementing a strong surveillance mechanism and controlling breeding of mosquitoes, through biological controls using gambusia fish in waterbodies such as ponds or chemicals for small containers.

All about The National Framework for MalariaElimination (NFME) 2016-2030

The National Framework for MalariaElimination (NFME) 2016-2030, which outlines India’s strategy for elimination of the disease by 2030.

This framework has been developed with a vision to eliminate malaria from the country and contribute to improved health and quality of life and alleviation of poverty10bg_bgcta_mala_11_2890554f

The NFME document clearly defines goals, objectives, strategies, targets and timelines and will serve as a roadmap for advocating and planning malaria elimination in the country in a phased manner

In line with the WHO Global Technical Strategy (GTS) for Malaria 2016-2030 and Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) Malaria Elimination Roadmap for the Asia Pacific, the goals of the National Framework for Malaria Elimination in India are to:

  1. Eliminate malaria (zero indigenous cases) throughout the entire country by 2030; and
  2. Maintain malaria free status in areas where malaria transmission has been interrupted and prevent re-introduction of malaria

Necessary guidance is expressed for rolling out the strategies and related interventions in each State/UT as per respective epidemiological situation.

Eliminating Malaria will result in cutting down on expenditure on diseases control programme, and will help in reducing out-of-pocket expenditure too

The objectives of the NFMEare to:

  1. eliminate malaria from all low (Category 1) and moderate (Category 2) endemic states/uts (26) by 2022
  2. Reduce incidence of malaria to less than 1 case per 1000 population in all States/uts and the districts and malaria elimination in 31 states/uts by 2024;
  3. Interrupt indigenous transmission of malaria in all States/ uts (Category 3) by 2027
  4. Prevent re-establishment of local transmission of malaria in areas where it has been eliminated and to maintain malaria-free status of the country by 2030
  • The milestones and targets are set for 2016, 2020, 2022, 2024, 2027 and 2030 by when the entire country has sustained zero indigenous cases and deaths due to malaria for 3 years and initiated the processes for certification of malaria elimination status to the country.
  • The NFME 2016-2030 also defines key strategic approaches such as programme phasing considering the varying malaria endemicity in the country; classification of States/UTs based on API as
  • Primary criterion (Category 0: Prevention of re- introduction phase
  • Category 1: Elimination phase
  • Category 2: Pre-elimination phase
  • Category 3: Intensified control phase

District will be the unit of planning and implementation; and special focus will be on high endemic areas; and special strategy for P. vivax elimination.

In the short-term, i.e. by end of 2016, all states/UTs are expected to include malaria elimination in their broader health policies and planning framework; by end of 2017, all states are expected to bring down API to less than 1 per thousand population; and by end of 2020, 15 states/UTs under category 1 (elimination phase) are expected to interrupt transmission of malaria and achieve zero indigenous cases and deaths due to malaria.

It is also envisaged that in states with relatively good capacity and health infrastructure, such as, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra, accelerated efforts may usher malaria elimination sooner – within two to three years.

As per the targets under the 12th Five Year Plan, the country is to achieve API<1 at state and district level by 2017 and pave way to malaria elimination in subsequent years.

Mysuru’s tryst with radio predates AIR

  • Even as India’s public broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) celebrated the 80th year of its naming on, its synonym, Akashvani, owes its origin to a house at Vani Vilas Mohalla in Mysusru where its owner, M.V. Gopalaswamy, began a radio broadcasting station.
  • A professor in psychology in Maharaja’s College, Gopalaswamy was a radio enthusiast. He set up an experimental radio station with a low-power transmitter (about 30 W), which he had procured from London, on September 10, 1935 in his house, ‘Vittal Vihar’.
  • Thus, Mysuru’s tryst with radio began with poet laureate Kuvempu rendering his poetry more than eight decades ago. Soon, well-known composer Mysore Vasudevacharya’s music programmes too came to be transmitted on radio along with other music, education, literature, and theatre-related programmes, spawning a new generation of creative and talented artistes.
  • According to a souvenir brought out by Akashvani Mysore to celebrate its platinum jubilee in 2010, the radio station shifted from ‘Vittal Vihar’ to the first floor of the Dasara Exhibition buildings, now housing Mysore Medical College and Research Institute, in 1939. After running the radio station single-handedly from his own funds for six years, Gopalaswamy handed over its administration to the Mysore City Municipality before the then government of Mysore Maharaja took it over on January 1, 1942.
  • Gopalaswamy, however, was retained the director of the radio station till August 2, 1943. Later, his colleague N. Kasthuri was appointed a full-time chief executive of the station. It was around this time that the radio station was named Akashvani
  • The radio station started operations from its present and own building at V.V. Mohalla from February 1944 while the transfer of the State broadcasting station to All India Radio network took place on April 1, 1950.

Wanted: lake wardens

  • Bengaluru is enrolling wardens to save its threatened water bodies. That is the offer made to Bengaluru residents by the newly formed Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority. The agency has invited applications to appoint wardens on Lake Watch Committees.
  • Committees with wardens — described as models of participative governance — have been in the pipeline for years, but are only now taking shape.
  • With each lake having a designated committee, the panels promise to be the fulcrum of community ownership for rejuvenation and management. Citizens can apply to either the Bangalore Development Authority or the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, depending on who is in charge of a particular wetland.

Responsibilities

  • Selected wardens will assist authorities to
    • check prohibited activities,
    • remove encroachments and
    • perform other allied duties.
  • While lake conservation activists have welcomed the move, they would have preferred more clarity about rules on meetings and powers of the panels.
  • The newly formed Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority has asked citizens to enrol in lake committees, which will be spearheaded by the civic agency responsible for that lake. But the Authority will only be a nodal agency; volunteers will have to enrol with either the BBMP or the BDA. Giving such a role for these agencies, under whose watch the lakes have been encroached upon, has not gone down well with many citizens.

State sees a rise in number of foreign students

  • The number of foreign students registering for courses in the State has increased by 26 per cent in the last eight months, a study by the Overseas Centre for Foreign Students (OCFS) has shown. The data was compiled from several universities, the Foreigner Regional Registration Office and various other sources.
  • This figure constitutes 36.7 per cent of the total number of foreign students in the country.
  • Karnataka attracts the maximum number of foreign students in the country based on this data and ranks fourth among all the States and Union Territories in terms of the total number of universities with 50.
  • Besides students, there is also an upward trend in the number of foreign faculty members who visit the State to teach, the study has shown.
  1. Foreign students in State in 2016
  2. Universities: 9,200
  3. Private institutions: 1,600
  4. Affiliated colleges in Bengaluru: 3,100
  5. Total: 13,900

Farm land coming under organic certification

  • The Karnataka State Organic Certification Agency is in the process of inspecting and certifying 6,240 hectares of farm land owned by 4,512 farmers in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikkamagaluru districts. The inspection will be over by March, 2017
  • Farmers whose land had been chosen for organic certification should not use chemicals for three years. The certificate would be issued later.
  • 4,512 farmers in the three districts had formed a regional federation called the Federation of Organic Growers in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikkamagaluru. It comprised 44 societies of organic growers in 44 villages.

Human digestive system inspires idea for in-flight waste management

  • This process is being likened to the human digestive system, where the intestines assimilate energy from food before throwing out waste in solid and gaseous form.— Photo: Special ArrangementThree long-haul flights of approximately 10 hours each can generate up to one tonne of waste. And this is only organic waste comprising food and toilet waste – both of which are degradable. Add to this an unspecified amount of non-biodegradable waste such as plastic.
  • Much of this waste ends up in a landfill, with airlines paying huge sums of money to contractors to collect and transport it to landfills.
  • Environmental hazard apart, researchers say potential energy is wasted by the unprocessed waste.
  • But things are about to change, thanks to two alumni of Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), who were part of the team that won the recent Innovation Showdown 2016.

waste gasification’.

  • A gasification plant is installed onboard for a small cost. It breaks down solid waste into small chunks. These particles are converted into electrical energy that can be stored in batteries. This can used to power entertainment systems on the flight. As of now, batteries are being charged by the engine
  • This process is being likened to the human digestive system, where the intestines assimilate energy from food before throwing out waste in solid and gaseous form.
  • Advantages- environmental impact, and savings on fuel and the fee to the contractor

Bio-coupons save 50 per cent of PDS kerosene

  • The Food Department has taken up an initiative to prevent diversion of kerosene given to BPL card-holders to the black market in Bengaluru. From June, all ration card holders will have to get ‘bio-coupons’ to avail their monthly quota of kerosene.
  • This comes in the wake of its bio-coupon experiment, taken up in 50 Public Distribution System (PDS) outlets, resulting in nearly 50 per cent saving of kerosene.
  • A large quantum of keresone supplied through the PDS is being diverted for industrial and commercial use, either through bogus cards or by the PDS outlets through fictitious accounts.
  • This system has also been taken up on an experimental basis in 10 shops in each district centre.
  • The annual subsidy on the kerosene being supplied in the State works out to about Rs. 2,000 crore
  • As per the new system, ration card holders who have linked their cards with Aadhar cards can visit the local food department office/photo bio-centre/village panchayat or Bengaluru One/Karnataka One centres to avail printed kerosene coupons by matching their fingerprints or iris.
  • Those who have linked their mobile phones with Aadhar cards could get bio-coupon on their phones using a One-Time-Password by visiting the department’s website, he said.
  • Those who have linked their ration cards with mobile numbers have the option of getting the coupon on their mobile phones by messaging RCKERO to 9731979899.
  • The bio-coupon codes will have to be shown to the PDS outlets to avail kerosene

Konkan Railway goes green, Udupi becomes solar-powered railway station

  • The Konkan Railways is making all possible attempts to tread the path of being eco-friendly division of the railways and in this direction, it has made Udupi Railway Station solar powered station.
  • The roof top of the station has been embedded with solar panels and the total power generation capacity of this system is 7 kw.
  • The station’s power requirement is about 48 kw. After using the power produced at the station, the remaining power is being procured from the Mescom
  • the station has adequate land to install the panels so as to be self-sufficient in power generation, but the Mescom rule that solar panels must be installed only on roof tops has posed an impediment for augmenting power generation
  • The station has already put in place Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU), which aims at cutting down fuel consumption and soon the same system will be extended
  • Soon, the Konkan Railway will introduce Rain Water Harvesting technique in all the new buildings of the division, following the success of the system in Murudeshwar Railway Station
  • Concept of Bio Toilets are being introduced in every station in phases
  • Further, over 40,000 saplings have been planted all along the track of Konkan railways.
  • All in all the Konkan Railways is leading the way in green initiatives

About Konkan Railways:

  • The Konkan Railway was the missing link between Maharashtra capital, Mumbai, and Mangalore. The 741-kilometre line connects Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka
  • KR does not have divisions like the other Indian Railways; however, it has two regions with headquarters at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and Karwar in Karnataka.
  • The route is a single-line track, and is not electrified. The total length of the line is about 738 kilometres (459 mi). Although it has been designed for high-speed traffic of 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph), the fastest train on the route, the Trivandrum Rajdhani Express, at present runs at a maximum speed of 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph).
  • The route is open to both freight and passenger traffic.
  • The line, which runs parallel to the Arabian Sea coastline, offers some of the most spectacular views of any Indian rail journey.
  • The Konkan railway route intersects national highway NH-66 at many places
  • There are fifty-six stations on the entire line. Although the route is currently a single line, KR and South Western Railway lines run parallel from Majorda to Margao in Goa, making that section a double line

HAL-built HTT-40’s first flight successful

  • The home-grown Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) from the hangars of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) had its first flight in Bengaluru
  • The Hindustan Turbo Trainer (HTT-40) was piloted by Group Capt Subramaniam (Retd), Chief Test Pilot, HAL. According to sources, the flight lasted for about 30 minutesHAL_HTT-40_model

About HAL HTT-40 Aircraft

  • The HAL HTT-40 aircraft project is a Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) proposal for an indigenous replacement for the Indian Air Force’s retired HPT-32 Deepak as a basic trainer
  • The HTT-40 will be an all-metal tandem seat aircraft powered by a 1,100 hp (820 kW) turboprop engine.
  • On 28 February 2015, it was reported that Indian defense ministry has selected 68 HAL HTT-40 trainers and 38 Pilatus trainers to replace its current trainer aircraft fleet stating that this move was “commercially viable”.
  • On 21 June 2015, HAL chose the Honeywell Garrett TPE331-12B turboprop to power the trainer.
  • HAL rolled out the first prototype on 2 February 2016

State fixes foodgrain production at 130 lakh tonnes for 2016-17

  • Expecting normal monsoon during the Kharif season, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, launched a Krishi Abhiyan and set a target foodgrain production at 130 lakh tonnes in 2016-17.
  • Krishi Melas would be organised at the hobli-level to create awareness among the farmers on the availability of new technologies.
  • The government has extended input subsides, and 9.75 lakh quintal of seeds would be procured during the 2016 Kharif season

About Krishi Abhiyan

  • The State Government’s ambitious ‘Krishi Abhiyan’ programme, an extensive awareness campaign that will take agricultural experts to farmers’ fields
  • Scientists and agricultural experts would visit the different hoblis centres across the district to provide consultation to farmers.
  • The experts will interact with the farmers and provide guidance pertaining to cropping plans/resolving agricultural related issues
  • The officials will also explain the importance of various issues including soil testing and the mechanised farming during the campaign.

Cashless treatment helps 6,100 accident victims in Karnataka

  • The Mukhyamantri Santwana Harish Yojana (MSHS), providing cashless treatment in the crucial hours after an accident, has catered to 6,100 cases across Karnataka and provided treatment of up to Rs. 13 lakh in the three months after its launch.
  • At the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) office in Shanthinagar, a unit of the Health Department which administers the scheme, the number of beneficiaries under MSHS is updated in real time.
  • Lists are generated daily to find out beneficiaries in each district and the process of how an accident victim receives treatment during the golden hour is studied on a case-by-case basis, with the aim of plugging loopholes in the system.

About the scheme:

  • Under the scheme, launched on March 9, victims are given cashless medical treatment for the first 48 hours at any registered hospital, up to Rs. 25,000.
  • The scheme was named after Harish Nanjappa, a Bengaluru-based youth who donated his eyes moments before his death.
  • Currently, 430 hospitals across Karnataka are part of the scheme, of which 37 are in Bengaluru.
  • The speciality of the scheme is that any one is eligible for it, irrespective of their financial ability
  • Any amount less than Rs. 5,000 is auto-approved.

Apps within wheels

  • Karnataka’s face-off with new taxi companies shows how State governments continue to be behind the curve on utilising technology to fix public transport
  • The rapid spread of new mobility services such as Uber and Ola taxis presents a regulatory dilemma for transport administrators. Should they embrace the popular new entrants, or should they try to box them in with regulation, partly to favour traditional operators?
  • Karnataka’s face-off with the new taxi companies shows that a transparent model of regulation can be difficult to arrive at without a sound assessment of mobility trends.

Arguments “for” these operators

  • Globally, app-based taxi services, under the broad category of Commercial Transport Applications, are being accepted by governments as a technology-led disruption that should be mainstreamed to meet the needs of the travelling public.
  • These services have been able to fill some gaps that governments could not — such as providing access to reliable travel at night.
  • They have been able to generate clear insights into what people want in terms of mobility.

Problems with traditional mode

  • Transport departments in India, as in most other countries, and traditional operators, are apprehensive about the new entrants who have the unique benefit of data insight. Governments have so far made policy “blind”, that is, without the benefit of real-time data on demand for buses, urban rail and feeder services.
  • Government-run services have no concept of “on demand” travel.
  • In India, the problem is particularly complex. Unlike cities in Europe and the U.K., State governments here failed to invest in modern bus and urban rail systems during the entire period of two decades of economic growth that produced a sharp increase in travel demand.
  • Autorickshaws and old taxis faced severe disruption, since the “bottleneck” benefit which they got from a limited number of transport permits disappeared. Their experience is not unique. In London, there are now over 90,000 Uber cabs, while the iconic and expensive black cabs number 25,000, and unlicensed taxis an estimated 30,000.

What needs to be done?

  • When it comes to providing people mobility, governments should be concerned about the fulfilment of public policy objectives — equity, safety, consumer welfare and sustainability. The regulation of new-technology taxi services must meet such policy objectives, rather than be trapped in ideology.
  • Karnataka should be concerned whether the new services are providing more and better connections to protected consumers, and adding jobs.
  • A regulation-lite approach to new taxi services could create a pool of drivers who have been vetted and verified by the government and issued a nationally portable identification card. Such identification would add to employment flexibility for the individual, and help governments assess whether proper working conditions are being ensured.
  • Moreover, there is a continuous stream of data put out by the taxi driver and the user, and it is thus possible to ensure accountability. Karnataka’s approach to restrict employment by prescribing a two-year residence requirement for a taxi driver obviously fails the test of flexibility.
  • Transport departments in several States have, ironically, favoured informal employment in the sector for many years, giving regulation less importance. Shared vehicles are thus operated “off the record” by hundreds of operators with no restrictions, competing with government-run transport networks even in some metropolitan cities such as Chennai. They do fulfil a critical role in transporting people, and fill a gap created by failing or absent bus systems. Yet, they are beyond the pale of serious regulation, and governments have little idea of how many people actually use them on a daily basis, since there is no data gathered or shared.
  • What governments need to recognise is that the transport landscape is today shaped by access to information on real travel needs. Anyone carrying a smartphone can potentially aid the process by passively providing data, if authorities are willing to listen. A transport app for a bus network, for instance, can inform travellers about services in real time, and simultaneously tell the administrators where and when people are going, and where they would like to go. Bengaluru rolled out such an app recently, but stands out as an exception..
  • Uber and Ola have similar insights to offer, which State regulators could get in anonymised form, to understand urban travel trends.
  • San Francisco is a city that listened to data from various sources, and found that it was spending $4.5 billion in a year to enable passenger car trips, but only $1.5 billion for collective trips. It became easier to set a policy priority to spend more money on collective, shared travel options, potentially cutting congestion and reducing parking problems. The Chief Innovation Officer at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Timothy Papandreou, told the ITF conference that there are “more shared mobility solutions in San Francisco than probably anywhere else in the world”.
  • The era of State governments using transport departments merely to collect rent, with little insight into demand and supply, and certainly no accountability for public service has been upended by technology. The smart option would be to understand the change, harness the data, and help cities grow around modern bus, rail and taxi networks.

School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) Forum

  • A list of 16 recommendations have been put forth by the committee
  • School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) Forum has made 16 recommendations including that CCTV cameras be installed in all government schools keeping the interest of students in mind.
  • They have sought that the government take back the circular that was issued on May 21 pertaining to the closure of government schools.
  • They have also recommended that lower primary schools be protected at the ward-level and pre-primary schools be started on the lower primary school campus.
  • To ensure quality education to students, they have sought that the head master, craft teacher, music and physical education teachers not be counted as actual teaching faculty.

Karnataka’s only 1947 model passenger bus to go on public display

  • A 1947-model ‘Banashankari’ bus, the oldest pre-Independence era public transport vehicle in Karnataka, has been brought back from oblivion and restored to its previous glory.
  • Manufactured under the Bedford brand by a Canadian firm, the bus was used to ferry devotees to the famous Banashankari Devi fair in Badami, Bagalkot district, and the Yellamma fair in Saundatti, Belagavi district, and that is how it got its name
  • It remained with the Bombay State Road Transport Corporation until the unification of Karnataka in 1956.
  • During the Raj, Bijapur and Belgaum districts were part of the Bombay Presidency.
  • Later, the Bedford bus became a property of the Mysore State Road Transport Corporation.
  • It was used as a passenger vehicle till 1968, after which the operations were withdrawn.
  • The bus remained dumped in the KSRTC’s Kengeri depot, with few officials being aware of its vintage value. KSRTC managing director Rajendra Kumar Kataria spotted it during a recent inspection of the depot. He learnt that the bus was the last passenger vehicle from the pre-Independence era in Karnataka. He decided to get it restored and put it on public display at the corporation’s central office in Shanthinagar.

Govt proposes to merge 731 schools with fewer than 10 students

  • The Department of Public Instruction has proposed that a staggering 731 schools with less than 10 enrolments in the state be merged with the schools that have a good number of admissions.
  • The department has sought that students who are presently enrolled in schools that have reported less than ten admissions be transfered to other government, aided or unaided schools, which have a strength of over 31 students.
  • The schools to which the children are being transfered ought to be within one kilometer radius from the present schools where they are admitted. If the student does not get admission in a nearby government schools for any reason, they ought to be given a seat under the RTE quota in aided or unaided schools.
  • As many as 731 schools have less than 10 admissions in the state while 3,005 schools have 10 and 30 enrolments. Mandya has the most number of schools with less than ten admissions, this year. There are 191 such schools in the district.

Financial aid for Kailash Manasarovar pilgrims

  • The state government has proposed to provide financial assistance to pilgrims from Karnataka who are visiting Kailash Manasarovar for the first time this year.
  • Only permanent residents of Karnataka are eligible to get the benefit of this scheme.
  • The address mentioned in the passport will be taken as proof for considering the pilgrims as the residents of the state of Karnataka.
  • Those who have already availed the benefit of this scheme are not entitled to it for the second time.

Biopic on former Karnataka CM Devaraj Urs

  • Karnataka government plans to produce a biopic on former chief minister Devaraj Urs, who is credited with ushering in a silent social revolution in the state and undertaking land reforms during his eight year reign from 1972.
  • The film on Urs, the eighth chief minister of the state, would be made at a budget of Rs three crore
  • The biopic will be directed by T S Nagabharana, Kannada film director and one of the pioneers of parallel cinema, and will be completed in a year’s time
  • The biopic will showcase Urs’ political accomplishments, including the ushering in of a silent social revolution in Karnataka.
  • The film will also highlight the stress Urs laid on education of people belonging to backward classes, and most notably being abolishment of carrying night soil by Dalits and bonded labour
  • The biopic will also depict Urs as one of the greatest social reformers Karnataka
  • The land reforms spearheaded by him, in which the tiller of the land became the owner, was exemplary. It had reduced the chasm between the rich and the poor, doing away with social inequality

Bidar’s drought-proof action: a model for others to follow

  • Faced with worst ever drought, the district in Karnataka has desilted historical wells and tanks for the first time in last five decades with minimum investment and created an extra water storage of over 10 tmc while setting an example for other 250-odd drought-hit districts in India.
  • With desilting work to continue till arrival of monsoon next week, the district administration plans to add another 10 tmc (thousand million cubic) storage space in tanks and wells, taking the total extra storage capacity to 20 tmc.
  • The good work being done in the district prompted the state government to announce last month a ‘Kere Sanjivini’ scheme to clean/dredge tanks and wells in all drought-hit districts in the state but funds have not yet reached them
  • The ‘Bidar model’ is unique in the sense that the district administration started work in March itself and spent about Rs 2.5 crore to remove 26 lakh cubic meter of silt, which otherwise would have cost not less than Rs 100 crore.
  • So far, the district has completed desilting in 200 open wells out of 1,000; 100 tanks out of 120 in five taluks, 20 temple tanks out of 400 and the work is being carried to add another 10 tmc extra storage before arrival of monsoon rains
  • The water from these desilted open wells has been tested and being supplied through tankers for drinking water purpose.
  • Major intervention in water conservation was that the district initiated for the fist time in last many years the desilting of ancient underground water tunnels called ‘Karez’ system that originated in Iran
  • The Bidar Karez, built in the 15th century, is more than 3 km long with 21 air vents. There are 12 water network lines in the district and desilting of each line is estimated to cost Rs 2 crore. Desilting work has begun in one line already.
  • All these efforts coupled with reforestation program of planting one crore trees in the district and promotion of rainwater and micro irrigation have saved the district from drought in the next ten years
  • Unlike neighbouring states Maharashtra and Telangana, the district administration did not focus on digging new open wells, instead it rejuvenated historical wells which were constructed way back in 12th century.
  • The taluk faced severe drinking water crisis in March due to drying up of ‘Chulkinaala tank’ for the first time this year due to drought. But the district administration desilted 2 lakh cubic meters of water here and this will recharge open wells, borewells and groundwater in this taluk.
  • Black-topped fields are making an appearance in most parts of the district as farmers have already spread desilted soil in over 50,000 acres out of total farm land of 9.14 lakh acres in the district.
  • Drought-hit farmers are now pinning hopes on black rich soil and good monsoon to reap record harvest this year even as the government has announced a substantial hike in the minimum support price of kharif crops.

State not keen on Centre’s pulses offer

  • The state government is not likely to accept the centre’s offer to make tur and urad dal available to people at Rs 120 per kg – a measure aimed at helping people cope with rise in prices of essential commodities.
  • Sources in the state Food and Civil Supplies department said the government is reluctant to take the responsibility of supplying the pulses to people, as offered by the centre.
  • One of the main reasons is the fear of incurring huge financial losses in the event of a price crash. Moreover, lack of clarity on the centre’s part has also discouraged the state from accepting the
  • The centre recently offered to supply unmilled tur and urad dals to the state at Rs 66 and Rs 82 per kg, respectively, and asked to ensure availability of the pulses to people at not more than Rs 120 a kg. The centre made this offer in view of the rising prices.
  • The state has to work out the cost of processing (milling), packing and transportation and distribution in such a way that the price (consumer price) of the pulses does not exceed Rs 120 per kg.
  • Currently, urad dal and tur dal cost about Rs 185 and Rs 155 per kg, respectively, in the open market. There are indications of the prices coming down by Rs 10 to Rs 15 per kg in the coming days. The centre recently announced that it has a stock of 10,000 metric tonnes of urad dal and tur dal, which will be distributed among all states.
  • The department has in a proposal submitted to the government recently, estimated an expenditure of Rs 50 to Rs 60 crore per month to supply urad dal and tur dal to people in major cities and towns, including Bengaluru. This includes cost of lifting from the centre’s godowns, milling, packing, transportation and sale.
  • The plan is to sell these pulses at janata bazaars and outlets of Hopcoms and Karnataka State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation. T
  • he estimated expenditure for supplying these pulses to all BPL families through the public distribution system is Rs 120 crore per month. But the government has chosen not to take any decision in a hurry, the sources said.

Soon, passports will be issued in Kalaburagi, too

  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has decided to upgrade the Passport Application Processing Centre (PAPC) in Kalaburagi into a full-fledged Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in order to reduce the workload on the Regional Passport Office in Bengaluru and to ensure transparency in administration.
  • With the conversion of the Kalaburagi PAPC into a passport seva kendra, the number of PSKs in Karnataka will go up to five
  • Bengaluru has two PSKs (Lalbagh Road and Marathahalli) and Hubballi and Mangaluru have one each.
  • Presently, the Kalaburagi PAPC serves as a virtual PSK. All front operations to generate a passport, such as submission of applications, digitisation of files, taking of pictures and biometrics and verification of documents, have been completed. The last stage of granting of passports is done by the Regional Passport Office in Bengaluru. This will happen in Kalaburagi once the PSK begins its operations
  • The PAPC in Kalaburagi was commissioned in 2015 to help passport seekers in the region. It has handled over 25,000 applications so far. It receives about 100 applications a day. The facility will function five days a week and will be dependent on the RPO in Bengaluru for crucial issues

Bird festival in Gadag district

  • Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology B Ramanath Rai announced that this year’s bird festival would be held at the Magadi lake in Shirahatti taluk of the district.
  • More than 70 species of birds from countries like China and Mongolia migrate to the lake during winter every year.
  • The bird festival was organised at Ranganathittu in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district and Dandeli in Uttara Kannada district in the past

Boats anchor off harbours for breeding-season break

  • Hundreds of mechanised boats anchored off the fishing harbour following the annual ban on fishing to facilitate breeding.
  • Boats were stationed across all fishing harbours along the state’s coast, including Mangaluru.
  • The ban will be in place between June 1 and July 31. The ban which was for 45 days earlier has been in place for 61 days since last year.
  • This gives the fishermen community a break from their routine and an opportunity to visit their native places.
  • Fish usually are on the shores in June to lay eggs. It is also the season when the fish get abundant food in the sea. The advantage for the fishermen is that they will have a sizeable catch when they get back to the sea after the two-month ban.
  • Only traditional boats involve in fishing and those with a motor capacity of up to 10 horsepower (HP) are allowed into the sea for travelling purposes during the period.
  • Action is taken as per the provisions of the Karnataka Coastal Fishing (Regulation) Act if the fishermen are found to be involved in fishing during the said period.
  • They will also become ineligible to get cess-free diesel for their boats and for availing the refund of the central excise tax levied on the diesel
  • Figures available with the department of fisheries show that there has been an year-on-year increase in the availability of fish in the sea. But fishermen do not agree with the figures. They say that there has been a shortage of fish.
  • As per the figures with the department, 3.89 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of fish were produced during 2014-15.
  • The production was 4.11 MT in 2015-16, worth Rs 3,424 crore.

Plan to replace Keonics with Infy as industry partner of IIIT, Dharwad

  • The state government wants to replace state-run PSU Keonics with Infosys as its industry partner, at the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Dharwad, set up under public private partnership last year.
  • The government has sent a proposal to the centre, seeking approval to induct Infosys as the industry partner.
  • Sudha Murty Neralu, who is the chairperson of IIIT’s board of governors, has proposed to make Infosys the industry partner of the institute, requesting that the buildings on the campus be named after Infosys
  • The institute became operational from a temporary campus in Dharwad last year after the signing of a tripartite memorandum of understanding by the central government, state government and Keonics (Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd).
  • The institute was set up under a UPA tenure plan to open 20 IIITs in the country in partnership with the industry.
  • The share in the cost of running the institutes is in the ratio of 50:35:15 among the central government, state government and the industry partner.
  • The centre has so far approved setting up of 19 IIITs in partnership with the industry, with most of them being public sector units (PSUs). As many as 12 of these IIITs are already functioning.
  • None of these institutes has its buildings named after the industry partners