KARNATAKA CURRENT AFFAIRS

HC stay on Bellandur

  • All issues from Karnataka have to be heard by the Southern Bench in Chennai as per the distribution of jurisdiction among various benches across the country under Section 4(3) of the NGT Act, 2010 and a notification issued by the Ministry of Environment in this regard in 2011, the petitioner claimed.
  • As the Principal Bench has no jurisdiction to hear issues related to Karnataka, its order on Bellandur lake is without jurisdiction, and hence cannot be given effect in law, the petitioner has claimed.
  • Questioning the legality of the order passed by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) on May 12, 2017 for closure of the unit solely based on the NGT’s April 19 direction and sans any prior notice or any complaint of pollution against the unit, the petitioner has pointed out that it is neither using water from Bellandur lake nor discharging any effluent, as it has set up its own sewerage treatment plant.
  • A joint inspection on May 16 by officials of the KSPCB and the Central Pollution Control Board indicated that the brewery is not letting any effluent into the water body, but the KSPCB did not act on a plea submitted by the petitioner on May 20 for revocation of the closure order, the petition stated.
  • The court stayed the May 12 order of KSPCB for closing the brewery.

KRCL to plant 1.5 lakh saplings this year

  • Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL) recently celebrated World Environment Day at its headquarters in Mumbai and across its network, including Karwar and Udupi, by arranging a host of activities.
  • The corporation planted about 1.12 lakh saplings along its network in 2016-17, and in 2017-18 it plans to plant another 1.5 lakh saplings.
  • As one of the oldest signatories of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), KRCL has taken several initiatives towards environment protection, including the unique Roll-On-Roll-Off service for trucks since 1999 which saves over 750 lakh litres of diesel, a release said.
  • On World Environment Day,planting of medicinal plants was arranged near Udupi Railway Station in association with SDM College of Ayurveda and Hospital. A drawing-cum-painting competition was held in Karwar.
  • KRCL’s indigenously designed Automatic Coach Washing Plant, which helps save 10 million litres of water a year in addition to effluent treatment and water recycling, is being emulated in other sectors of Indian Railways. The corporation has also undertaken rainwater harvesting activities and produces of solar and wind power.

Team inspects anti-dengue operations

  • A four-member team from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) visited many places in the city and K.R. Nagar, Berya, Adaguru, Yelwal, Ootagalli in the district on 15th June and supervised the work being done by the Health Department in creating awareness about dengue.
  • The team led by Sheriff, Research Officer, NVBDCP, along with Chidambara, District Vector Borne Diseases Officer, paid surprise visits to houses in Yelwal and K.R. Nagar and examined water containers.
  • They also educated people about dengue and directed them to keep changing the water in the containers frequently.
  • Residents, however, complained that they get water once in three to four days and it was inevitable for them to store it for a few days.
  • Later, the team suggested that ASHA workers could be given a chemical to apply it in water containers such as concrete tubs and ensure that mosquitoes do not breed there.
  • Hitherto, ASHA workers were not given the chemical for safety reasons. The team told Dr. Chidambara to educate ASHA workers about proper use of the chemical.
  • The team also enquired about the malaria eradication programme.
  • Sheriff told the officials that a team from World Health Organisation may visit Mysuru city in the next two months and assess the performance of the eradication programme.

ICAI sets up GST help desk

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) will set up a ‘GST Sahayata Desk’ at its office here to create awareness on the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • Rekha Devanand, chairperson of the Udupi branch of ICAI, said the help desk will explain the benefits of GST to small businessmen and answer their queries.
  • It will also guide them on migration and filing of GST returns.
  • The help desk will function at the office of ICAI at Mahalasa Damodar Towers on Kalsanka-Kadiyali Road.
  • It will be open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays till September 30. Businessmen and other stakeholders could also call 0820-2536603 with their queries, she said.
  • Devanand said Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, would inaugurate the help desk at the ICAI branch at noon on 16th June.
  • Members of chambers of trade and commerce, business associations and other stakeholders are expected to participate in the inaugural function
  • The GST combines all indirect taxes into one. Only the final customer will be taxed, and this eliminates the cascading of taxes.
  • The GST will be implemented from July 1. According to the directions of the Indirect Tax Committee of ICAI, steps have been being taken to open help desks at all the branches of ICAI to take queries from stakeholders, Ms. Devanand said.

Bill to bring all varsities under one umbrella tabled

  • The Karnataka State Universities Bill, 2017 — which seeks to bring all State universities under one umbrella — was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
  • The Bill ensures that all universities follow common rules in administration and functioning. At present, seven university Acts are in force, each differing in its functioning.

Other Bills tabled

  • The Assembly on 14th June also saw the tabling of The Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
  • It seeks to relax the norms related to compulsory rural service for doctors, confining the compulsory rural service norms to government quota students.
  • Also, it provides for lifting the ban on award of degrees by universities to non-government quota students who have not undergone rural service.
  • The Karnataka State Higher Education Council (Amendment) Bill seeks to remove ambiguity pertaining to certain provisions.
  • The Karnataka Rajya Dr. Gangubai Hangal Sangeetha Mattu Pradarshaka Kalegala Viswavidyalaya (Amendment) Bill tabled provides for increasing the age limit of the university’s V-C to 67 from 65.

Private hospitals up in arms against KPME Act amendment

  • Upset over the amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act, 2007, under which the government will fix rates for various procedures in private hospitals and penalise those flouting it, associations of private medical establishments and nursing homes in Karnataka have planned a ‘Bangalore Chalo’ on June 16.
  • The Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017, tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 13th June, has kept government hospitals out of the purview of the legislation, setting aside the recommendation of the Justice Vikramajit Sen committee.
  • The committee, appointed in July 2016 to draft amendments to regulate the healthcare system in the State, had said that there cannot be two sets of rules for private and government hospitals.
  • Terming the amended Bill as “draconian”, the associations have demanded that the amendments be dropped before it is approved in the legislature.
  • A team of doctors, who submitted a memorandum to Health Minister K.R. Ramesh Kumar on 14th June, have also planned to meet Governor Vajubhai R. Vala and seek his intervention.
  • “If the government does not agree to our demand, we will come out with a resolution on the future course of action on June 16,” said H.N. Ravindra, president-elect of the Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) State unit.
  • He said representatives of private medical establishments will assemble at the city railway station in Majestic on June 16 and march to Freedom Park in protest against the move.
  • The Bill, when passed by the legislature, will enable the government to regulate private hospitals in all aspects.
  • It envisages setting up of an expert committee that would classify private medical establishments and recommend the State government to fix the cost of treatment for different medical services.
  • “Every private medical establishment shall follow the rates as fixed by the government and this includes package rates for investigation, bed charges, operation theatre procedures, intensive care, ventilation, implants, consultation and any additional treatments,” the Bill stated.
  • Prohibiting private hospitals from imposing additional charges over and above the rates fixed by the government “unless explained to and consented to by the patient”, the Bill has mooted the setting up of a district and metropolitan grievance redressal committee to look into the complaints against or lapses on the part of the private hospitals.
  • The Bill mandates private hospitals to first hand over the dead body to a family and later collect the dues payable to it. It also prohibits private hospitals from demanding advance payments from patients or the family in case of emergency treatments.

Police to implement zero-waste initiative in quarters, colonies

  • After battling crime and keeping traffic snarls off the streets, it is now time for the city police to ensure that waste from their homes does not end up on Bengaluru’s roads.
  • Solid waste management (SWM) experts are now visiting the over 15 police colonies and quarters across the city to educate residents there about segregation of waste at source.
  • Over 7,500 families live in police colonies and quarters, and generate approximately 3.75 tonnes of waste every day.
  • This is after Police Commissioner Praveen Sood wrote to all the Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) and City Armed Reserve (CAR) officials directing them to cooperate with the initiative.
  • “During a recent inspection, I found that most of the colonies are in a pathetic condition. With Swachh Bharat Abhiyan also focussing on waste management, we have decided to implement it on all our campuses,” he said.
  • Sood also said that using the police benevolent funds, coloured bins would be distributed to residents of police colonies and quarters. “Wet waste will be composted and the compost will be used in-house for gardening. Dry waste can be recycled,” he added.
  • S. Ramakanth, SWM expert, who is spearheading the initiative, said police colonies are situated on huge campuses. However, most residents do not follow segregation rules.

How will it be done?

  • In the first phase, waste management volunteers will go to these colonies to educate the residents.
  • To eliminate the black spots, colour-coded community bins would be placed.
  • “Initially, these will be monitored and the segregated waste will be picked up from here. Hopefully, littering also will reduce with this move,” Mr. Ramakanth said, and added that jurisdictional health inspectors and environment officers of the BBMP have been asked to fine the violators.
  • Once segregation of waste at source is achieved, processing units, either compost or biogas, will be established within these colonies. “We have set a six-month deadline to get to this stage. The processing units would be set up by the BBMP. Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad has agreed to this proposal in principle,” he added.
  • The focus of the second phase will be on ensuring the 150-odd police stations are zero-waste. “For all the awareness activities, the police have assured us of providing logistical support. Mr. Sood and the DCPs have been positive and proactive to this initiative,” Mr. Ramakanth said.

Plans on to reinstall ‘onake’ at Kunti Betta

  • Unprotected monuments with historical and mythological significance in and around Kunti Betta, a rocky hill near Pandavapura, will soon get much-needed care.
  • The hillock is known for its serene ambience, thickly strewn boulders and important monuments.
  • Adventure enthusiasts always consider the place their favourite destination for trekking, hiking and rock-climbing.
  • According to mythology, the Pandavas camped there during their ‘ajnathavasa’ (exile).
  • The place, however, is losing sanctity owing to the absence of vigilant measures on visitors. While some trekkers allegedly damaged the “Bheemana onake” (pestle of Bheema), a free-standing stone structure, a few months back, many local residents are using the place for illegal activities.

Dept. writes to ASI

  • The Revenue Department has written to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage seeking reinstallation of the onake.
  • The structure was allegedly broken by some people, D. Hanumantharayappa, tahsildar of Pandavapura said
  • He underlined the need to provide protection to the monuments at the hillock
  • It is believed that the structure was used by Bheema to grind and mix grains for cooking. He has asked both the departments to reinstall & has also requested the police to intensify patrolling in the area

Stringent measures

  • A police officer said stringent measures will be taken against visitors/trekkers who indulge in illegal activities.
  • When contacted, an officer at the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage from Bengaluru said: “There are many important monuments in Kunti Betta. Some are under the purview of the ASI and many come under our department.”
  • Either one of the departments has to reinstall Bheemana onake. There is a plan to install CCTV cameras at entry points and vital places in the tourist spot, another Revenue officer said.
  • A large footprint mark on the rock, said to be that of Bheema; the Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple; stepped-pond (Kalyani); Nandi and Ganesha statues, and some mantaps are some of the monuments at the hillock.

100 BMTC passengers to get smart cards

  • The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has shortlisted hundred passengers to receive the first smart cards, on a trial basis, in the coming days.
  • The cards, to be launched on June 17 by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, will be provided to passengers who frequently travel on bus route 335, between Kempegowda bus station and Kadugodi.
  • “This is the first time in the country that smart cards are being issued in buses. We decided to try it on Volvo bus passengers first and later to other passengers. It will be sold for Rs. 25. Passengers can top up the card to Rs. 10,000,” said a BMTC official.

What is BMTC smart card?

  • Commuters who use BMTC services might soon be able to travel without tickets and passes, the travellers will use smart cards.
  • Smart cards will certainly be a great relief to passengers and conductors, who often fight over small change. Parvez said the smart cards would largely help middle and high-income groups.
  • The project includes providing smart cards, ticket vending machines, ticket value machines, top-up channels and e-payment services at bus stations.
  • There will be two types of smart cards — a rechargeable card that passengers can top-up when they travel, and a card that is valid for a month.
  • The minimum recharge will be `40 and each card will bear the passenger’s photo and address.
  • Commuters with smart cards will be asked to swipe the card instead of buying tickets. Once the commuter authenticates his card and enters the destination code, the specified fare is deducted from the card.
  • It will not only save a lot of time for the conductors, but will also bring down corruption among lower level staff. Besides, it is a modern way of handling activities. As of now, the cards will be applicable for BMTC buses only, but later it can be combined with Metro services

BDA to slash prices of its flats for the poor

  • Bangalore Development Authority has now decided to slash the prices of its flats for buyers from economically weaker sections and Dalit communities.
  • According to Bengaluru City Development Minister K.J. George, only 839 applications have been received for 3,512 apartments and villas built by the BDA.
  • The Minister said the prices of these apartments would be reduced by 25% for the economically weaker sections and 44% for people from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Minister blamed the drop in demand for these structures on the sales notification coinciding with the currency demonetisation period which saw a lull in the real estate sector.
  • To ensure that economically weaker sections in Bengaluru get affordable houses that have access to transport facilities, the BDA has decided to build apartment complexes for them in the areas connected by Namma Metro
  • This would be in addition to the ongoing scheme of building houses for the poor on government lands recovered from land sharks

Firms buy private land for afforestation

  • In a effort to take up compensatory afforestation, some companies are buying private land from farmers in Belagavi district to replace forestlands that they have used for industrial and other purposes.
  • Jindal Steel Works has informed the district administration that it will buy 878 acres of private land at Gavali village in Khanapur taluk.
  • It has issued advertisements in newspapers inviting objections, if any. According to the procedure, it should hand over that land to the Forest Department so that they take up afforestation at the earliest
  • They are hoping to get possession of the land before the monsoon so that the planting may start. But we may have to wait a few months. We will plan for the returning monsoons or wait till the next June rains,” the officer said.
  • EcoGen developers and consultants recently made an agreement with farmers to buy around 225 acres of land in Hulnad village in Belagavi district to compensate for the forestland diverted for a wind power project near Davangere.
  • One more company has initiated the process of buying around 50 acres of land in Onkara near the Bandipur tiger reserve to compensate for the land usage in north Karnataka.
  • Environment conservationist Giridhar Kulkarni calls it a good idea. The Ministry of Forests has made compensatory afforestation mandatory.
  • It has allowed firms to buy any kind of non-forest land and hand it over to the State government to conserve and develop forests.
  • The State government has advised firms to buy lands bordering forest areas so that wild animals are protected.
  • It also addresses issues such as human-animal conflict, crop loss, cattle kill, and human deaths. We are requesting the Forest Department not to disturb such habitats so that wildlife thrives, he added

BBMP to take over entire gamut of solid waste management

  • The State government and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike have assured pourakarmikas that their wages will be remitted directly to their bank accounts, the modalities are still to be finalised.
  • With this move, for the first time in 17 years, the civic body will take over the entire gamut of solid waste management (SWM) in the city: sweeping, collection, transportation, and disposal of garbage.
  • This overhaul of the existing system will take at least two to three months as the BBMP has to procure pick-up vehicles now being provided by contractors.
  • Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, said the role fulfilled by contractors — who supply the garbage-collection vehicles in the city — would now be taken over by the BBMP.
  • The civic body had been outsourcing collection and transportation of garbage to private contractors from the day the system was introduced in 2000.
  • Presently, contractors provide vehicles — 400 compactors and 8,000 autorickshwas in all — for garbage collection and disposal, along with acting as labour contractors for pourakarmikas.
  • Clifton D’Rozario, president of the BBMP Guttige Powrakarmikara Sangha, said the BBMP had already decided to invest in vehicles to provide them to the Pourakarmika Co-operative Societies that they intended to form.
  • The role of contractors in this new set-up will also have to be addressed. Mr. Khan added that following the government’s policy decision, the role of contractors would be eliminated.

‘Namma 100’ proving a boon to police

  • The recently launched ‘Namma 100’ seems to be a providing a modicum of peace not only to citizens but also to the city police. In the past, after failing to reach the helpline, people would directly call up the jurisdictional inspectors, assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners of police even in non-emergency situations.
  • But now, with all the calls being attended to by Namma 100 personnel, senior police officers are getting to focus on investigating their cases, said City Police Commissioner Praveen Sood. “The updated police control room is getting around 3,200 calls, most of which are not serious in nature. These are being resolved by the Hoysala staff,” he said.
  • The revamped police control room will soon be integrated with other helplines such as those for elders, women and children, as well as with emergency numbers for fire and ambulance.
  • According to the police chief, since the relaunch of Namma 100, which has a hundred telephone lines, the response time to distress calls has reduced to two seconds.
  • Control room staff are equipped to handle up to 8,000 calls a day.
  • Apart from receiving the calls and dispatching Hoysalas for help, the control room has a team for feedback.
  • The feedback staff will analyse the calls, response time and help provided to the caller. This analysis will not only help them enhance services, but will also keep the staff honest.

Proposed 18% GST on purchase of unmanufactured tobacco riles farmers

  • The proposed levy of 18% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on purchase of unmanufactured tobacco has become a source of concern to the tobacco farmers in Karnataka.
  • Hitherto, traders and manufacturers were exempted from paying any tax while purchasing tobacco from auction platforms.
  • The introduction of 18% GST on unmanufactured tobacco will indirectly hit farmers, said Javare Gowda, president, Virginia Flue Cured (VFC) Tobacco Growers’ Federation of Karnataka
  • Much of the tobacco grown in Mysuru and adjoining regions is exported. Traders purchasing tobacco for international markets will compare prices and tax with other regions in the world before coming to the market. If they get the commodity elsewhere on the globe for a lesser price, they will skip their markets
  • Even though farmers need not pay the tax, sources in the Tobacco Board said tobacco growers are worried about the impact of introduction of GST on their interests.
  • Tobacco farmers in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where auctions are under way, are already up in arms against the introduction of GST.
  • Farmers fear that the traders and manufacturers will bring down the purchase price when they have to pay GST, which will hit the farmers
  • Tobacco farmers in Karnataka, who defied the drought and reaped a rich harvest last year, had completed the plantation early this year and were looking forward to a good yield.
  • Despite an increase in output last year, tobacco fetched the farmers a good price of Rs. 134.58 per kg against the Rs. 135.24 the previous year.
  • In view of the good season last year, the Tobacco Board too increased the crop size from 95 million kg to 99 million kg for this year.
  • Hence, the area under tobacco cultivation has gone up marginally from 76,000 hectares last year to 81,000 hectares this year at the rate of 1.3 hectares per barn.
  • Even though the board has stopped issuing fresh licences for tobacco cultivation with a view to bring down its production in line with India’s commitment to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the number of licenced tobacco growers in the State has been hovering around 42,000 and the number of unlicenced growers around 30,000.
  • The farmers have resisted any move to abandon tobacco cultivation as there is no other alternative crop that is as remunerative as tobacco

Bengaluru will soon have 10 zones

  • The splitting of the clunky administration of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) took a step further with the State government initiating the process of increasing the number of zones within the civic body for better administration.
  • On 12th June, a gazette notification announced that the city would be administered through 10 zones.
  • At present, nearly 800 sq.km. of the city, with a population of one crore, is administered through eight zones that were demarcated in 2008, when the city corporation was expanded to include neighbouring villages.
  • Manjunath Prasad, BBMP Commissioner, said the process of increasing the number of zones to 10 would take three months.
  • Two officers will have to be appointed as Joint Commissioners. Existing staff will be reorganised. They have the physical infrastructure wherein two additional zonal offices can be created
  • However, with the BBMP itself seeing 50% vacancies in its sanctioned strength, eventually personnel would have to be hired to ensure all zones are effectively staffed.

Why was it needed?

  • The rationale behind the split finds roots in the BBMP Restructuring Report that had suggested the splitting of Bengaluru into five city corporations for better administration and management.
  • Currently, three zones of the city are relatively compact and cater to the needs of city within the Outer Ring Road.
  • However, high-growth zones such as Mahadevapura and R.R. Nagar, serve huge chunks of the population that nearly spans the North and South of the city. R.R. Nagar, for instance, spans across Mysuru Road till Tumakuru Road.
  • Under the new zones, the small Dasarahalli constituency is merged with Yeshvanthpur; while, the over-populated Bengaluru South and East zones are split.
  • The committee followed key criteria while deciding on the new zones: population, population growth, area and to ensure that Assembly constituencies fall entirely within one zone

Water level goes up in Kalaburagi reservoirs

  • Widespread rain in the last one week has helped increase water levels in all major reservoirs in Kalaburagi district.
  • All the reservoirs have reached full capacity, and the authorities have begun releasing water as a precautionary measure, considering the high inflow.
  • As against the full reservoir level of 438.89 metres, water level in the Bennethora in Chittapur taluk reached 438.32 metres on Monday.
  • The Lower Mullamari in Chincholli taluk stands at 488 metres against the full reservoir level of 491 metres.
  • Similarly, water level in the Gandorinala dam has reached 464 metres against the full reservoir level of 467 metres.
  • Water level in the Amarja dam stood at 458.69 metres against the full reservoir level of 461.50 metres.
  • The district received 27.4 mm of rainfall during the last 24 hours as per the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre reports till 8.30 a.m. on 12th June.
  • Between June 1 and June 12, the district recorded 111.4 mm of rainfall against a normal of 37.2 mm. Aland received the highest rainfall of 199.9 mm against a normal of 36.4 mm.
  • The following are the details of rainfall in the other taluks (normal rainfall is in bracket): Afzalpur 125.2 mm (37.7 mm), Kalaburagi 124.2 mm (41.8 mm), Chincholi 99.5 mm (43.2 mm), Chittapur 78.1 mm (32.1 mm), Jewargi 76 mm (37.6 mm) and Sedam taluk received 59.9 mm (28.3 mm) rainfall.

T.R. Suresh takes charge as Police Commissioner

  • R. Suresh on 12th June took charge as the Police Commissioner of Mangaluru. Incumbent M. Chandra Sekhar has been transferred as Inspector-General of Police, Criminal Investigation Department, Economic Offences.
  • Suresh, an MBA graduate from University of Mysore, was inducted into IPS in 2003 after serving in various positions in the police since 1991.

Earlier postings

  • Suresh served as In-charge Superintendent of Police in Kodagu and then served as Superintendent of Police in Bagalkot, Raichur and Tumakuru.
  • He was Deputy Commissioner of Police North East and North divisions, respectively in Benglauru.

Promotion

  • Six months ago, Mr. Suresh was promoted and he served as the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services.
  • Suresh hails from Shivamogga where he did his B.Com.
  • Since joining the police force in 1991, Mr. Suresh has served in various positions, including as Additional Superintendent of Police, Uttara Kannada, between 1997 and 1999.

Coastal Karnataka’s ‘first’ recharge wells are ready to tap rainwater

  • Considered the first-of-its-kind in coastal Karnataka, the recharge wells on the sprawling campus of an education institute at Vakvadi near Koteshwara in Udupi district are ready to harvest rainwater.
  • The two recharge wells built on the premises of Gurukula Public School are managed by Bandya Educational Trust .
  • Of the 40-acre campus of the school, the wells have been built to tap rainwater from about 20 acres now, they will be formally dedicated on 13th June to create an awareness among people to opt for such wells.
  • The government declared Udupi district drought-hit for the first time early this year owing to poor northeast monsoon.
  • But signs of groundwater table depleting was witnessed in the district much earlier.
  • Though they have two open wells on the campus, the groundwater table depleted to an extent that only two feet water was left in them in April-May last year. It is then that we thought of building the recharge wells seriously
  • Students, teachers, other staff members, and workers put together – from LKG to PU level – the school has about 1,400 persons and the requirement of water is huge as about 200 students stay in the hostel
  • Of the two recharge wells, roof water from a building has been let into one of them and run off water collected from about 20 acres has been diverted to another well with due filtration process.
  • The recharge wells have cost the school Rs. 80,000.
  • A team of skilled workers from Bengaluru completed the wells in three days under the guidance of S. Vishwanath, rainwater harvester from Bengaluru. The school already has some percolation pits to recharge groundwater and also has two borewells.
  • Shree Padre, rainwater harvest expert and a resource person on water harvesting, told that the school’s initiative should be an eye opener for all. Chennai was the pioneer in constructing recharge wells in the 1990s. Bengaluru could be having about 20,000 such wells now. It is one of the methods to recharge aquifer
  • The wells on the school premises are first-of-its-kind in the coastal belt of the State, he said, adding that rural and urban local bodies, apartments, and more education institutions should come forward to build such wells to recharge groundwater.

Centre urged to withdraw cattle law immediately

  • The new Act which bars cattle trade in the cattle market for slaughtering would prove draconian for the rural economy, Karnataka Pranta Raitha Sangha has demanded the withdrawal of the law.
  • The sangha said that the law brings all livestock, including chicken and camel, under its ambit which was grossly unscientific and anti-farmer.
  • Stating that agriculture, dairy farming and tannery industry were all inter-connected forming a part of rural economy, the release said that the law completely destroys this chain in the name of protecting animals from slaughter.
  • The release said that if the law was implemented, then farmers would not be in a position to sell their unproductive cattle which will help them get some money to buy new cattle.
  • Unproductive cattle were sold to slaughterhouses from where beef was sent to the retail market and hide supplied to the tannery industry which provides employment to many and also brings revenue to the government, it added.
  • The release said that farmers were in distress owing to natural calamities such as drought and floods, and cattle trade and dairy farming was the best alternative for them to survive during crises.
  • In such a situation, if the government comes up with a law that aims at killing this alternative earning, then the crises in the farming sector would only escalate.
  • The release said that if cattle were slaughtered, then it would create natural imbalance with the government having to manage them by spending tax payers money. The spending would neither bring any returns to farmers nor to the government, the release said.
  • The release said that many people who have not read the new Act clearly believe that it was aimed at only protecting cows, but in reality, the law would severely damage the rural economy which largely depends on cattle and their trade.
  • The release said that on the one hand the law would be an affront to the eating habits of a section of the people, while on the other it would create communal tension in the country.
  • The release demanded that the law be immediately withdrawn.

 

Karnataka to borrow $350 million from ADB for road development 

  • The government has decided to borrow $350 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for developing a core road network of 1,193 km in the State under the third phase of the Karnataka State Highway Improvement Project (KSHIP-III).
  • The process of acquiring over 1,000 acres has commenced. The road works are expected to commence by year end.
  • Land acquired for the project has been notified and land-losers will be paid compensation as per the amount fixed by a panel headed by Deputy Commissioners.
  • Officials in the Public Works Department (PWD) told that a total of 1,193 km of roads would be developed under the network at an estimated cost of Rs. 7,416 crore, including the ADB loan and State government funding.
  • In the first phase, the PWD has decided to develop 418 km of roads in three packages.
  • Roads between Kollegal-Hanur (23.8 km), Chintamani-Andhra Pradesh border (39.8 km) and Bengaluru (NICE Road)-Magadi (51 km) will be developed at an estimated cost of Rs. 671 crore.
  • In the second package, 166 km road between Magadi and Somavarpet in Kodagu will be developed for Rs. 691 crore, and in the third package, 139 km between Gadag and Honnali at an expenditure of Rs. 578 crore. After developing roads, toll will be collected from road users.

BOCI to host first national conclave of road passenger transport operators

  • The Bus Operators Confederation of India (BOCI) has organised a three-day event, Prawaas, in Mumbai from July 28.
  • BOCI intends to encompass operators of tourist buses, stage carriage buses, school buses, employee buses, maxi-cabs and tourist taxis under its ambit, said Prasanna Patwardhan, president of the confederation.

Unorganised Sector

  • The road passenger transport industry has been an unorganised sector though separate associations for respective categories of transport exist at district and State-levels
  • As such, the industry lacked the ability to bargain with the government and other agencies and also the powers to offer comfortable services to passengers.
  • The BOCI came into existence last year and has already made an impact. It was invited for discussions with the NITI Aayog. Individual associations limited their bargaining to respective fields and a majority of demands with the authorities were ‘don’ts’ rather than ‘dos’. As such, the confederation seeks to move forward with a positive approach to issues concerning the entire industry, he noted.

Initiatives

  • Prawaas intends to explore opportunities of growth in public-private partnerships in services and infrastructure development.
  • It would also bring in newer technologies, innovation, products, and services to stakeholders.
  • Experts in public transport from different countries would enlighten the participants with global best practices in public transportation.
  • Prawaas also aims to facilitate dialogue with State and Union government authorities for the harmonisation of a regulatory framework and to promote ease of doing business
  • The event would have delegates from all States in the country and 10 other countries, representatives of over 3,000 bus and car operators, more than 80 expert speakers, and about 150 exhibitors.
  • The BOCI would also confer awards on private sector operators, public sector operators, government special purpose vehicles, and others on the occasion.

Doraisanipalya— a butterfly reserve?

  • A large forest patch in Bengaluru was virtually abandoned by the Forest Department, and it could now become the country’s first Butterfly Conservation Reserve.
  • The lush green environs of the Doraisanipalya Jallary Reserve Forest off Bannerghatta Road have become a hot spot for butterfly diversity after it was ‘reclaimed’.
  • The 91-acre campus lies incongruously amidst towering IT offices and “forest view” apartments in a busy area. Inside, hundreds of butterflies flit about in their oasis, oblivious to the urban jungle.
  • There are 124 butterfly species in the reserve now – or, nearly 40 per cent of the 289 species that are found in Karnataka.

From lab to forest

  • The Reserve Forest houses the Forest Department’s research wing which had, for the past six decades, focused on growing forest trees for commercial use (trees for the Lac insect or Jallary in Kannada, for instance) and functioned as a trial bed for exotic and non-native species.

Studies end at site

  • Research work in Doraisanipalya ground to a halt in 2002-03, when its two borewells dried up. Without water, there could be no trials. The vast patch was then returned to nature.
  • Soon enough, shrubs and weeds proliferated, wild flowers bloomed, and the butterflies came home.
  • Relatively rare species for Bengaluru, like Spotted Angle, Anomalous Nawab, White-tipped Lineblue are now found here, says Rohit Girotra of the Bangalore Butterfly Club.
  • Plants and bushes that serve as larval hosts, such as curry leaf shrub, mango, guava, and Indian beech provide a natural environment for butterflies in this oasis.
  • As an observer of the colourful creatures for five years, Mr. Girotra says an enthusiast would have to travel to Savanadurga, nearly 75 km away, to find comparable forest diversity.
  • It is encouraging to see newer species in the Reserve Forest when the surrounding areas are being built over
  • Over 250 saplings have been planted this monsoon to attract more species.
  • bout three acres of the forest patch have been given to EMPRI research institute, and another two acres to house Central forest agencies.
  • Karanataka is the second state after Maharashtra to have a State butterfly, the Southern Bird Wing.

Silt from TB reservoir makes its way to brick factories nearby

  • The Tungabhadra reservoir site in Hosapete has seen a flurry of activity over the last 25 days, with farmers removing silt with heavy machinery as part of a symbolic movement to demand that the government either dredge the reservoir or come up with alternative plans to augment storage.
  • An unexpected beneficiary of this exercise, however, has been the brick industries nearby.
  • One could see a serpentine queue of lorries waiting for their turn to get the silt loaded.
  • These lorries have been making their way to the stockyards of brick factories at Mariyammanahalli and Kondanayakanahalli located nearby.
  • This has been a windfall of sorts for the factories since the silt comes for free.
  • Ranga Reddy, Secretary Tungabhadra Board, told that he learnt of silt being taken by brick industries. According to him, farmers could take the silt to be used in their lands for free. For commercial purposes, however, royalty of Rs. 6 per cubic metre has to be paid.
  • “The board had requested the Assistant Commissioner and the police to look into the matter and initiate action,” he said.
  • The storage capacity of the over six-decade-old reservoir has come down to around 100 tmcft from the original 133 tmcft owing to siltation over the years.
  • The reduced capacity has brought down the legitimate share of Tungabhadra waters of Karnataka and undivided Andhra Pradesh.
  • The reservoir did not get filled up owing to failure of rain during the past two years and as a result, water could not be released for the second crop.

Conservation reserve status eludes Hessarghatta grasslands

  • Its been more than four years since a proposal to declare nearly 5,000 acres of grasslands at Hessarghatta as a conservation reserve was made — which, if it comes, will make it the largest such protected site— in the city.
  • After years of meetings, the status of protection still eludes the site. At the time that two environment activists, Mahesh Bhat and Ramki Sreenivasan, submitted the proposal to the Forest Department, the State government was making plans for the allocation of Hessarghatta grasslands to numerous agencies, including a film city.
  • The conservation reserve status was to be taken up during a Wildlife Board meeting last year.
  • But, this did not happen. They have plan to aggressively take up the issue in the coming months
  • The issue remains that the grassland is home to numerous Central government agricultural and animal husbandry agencies.

What is Grassland?

  • Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae), however sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica.
  • Grasslands are found in most eco-regions of the Earth.
  • For example, there are five terrestrial ecoregion classifications (subdivisions) of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome (ecosystem), which is one of eight terrestrial ecozones of the Earth’s surface.

Evolution

  • Graminoids are among the most versatile life forms.
  • They became widespread toward the end of the Cretaceous period, and fossilized dinosaur feces (coprolites) have been found containing phytoliths of a variety of grasses that include grasses that are related to modern rice and bamboo.
  • The appearance of mountains in the western United States during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, a period of some 25 million years, created a continental climate favorable to the evolution of grasslands.
  • Existing forest biomes declined, and grasslands became much more widespread. Following the Pleistocene ice ages, grasslands expanded in range in the hotter, drier climates, and began to become the dominant land feature worldwide

100 to be relaunched with response time of 6 seconds

  • The police control room number ‘100’ is being relaunched under a new name ‘Namma-100’ with a promise that calls would be answered within six seconds, down from 15 seconds at present.
  • The service, which will also be available to people seeking help through social media platforms, is backed by new technology and aims to operate on the lines of 911 in the US and 999 in the UK, the police said.
  • ‘Namma-100’ will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on 10th June.
  • At present, the police control room staff answer calls within 15 seconds.
  • It can take up to two minutes to understand the complaint and 30 seconds to alert the nearest Hoysala patrol vehicle.
  • With the new technology, the staff will be able to identify the exact address from where the call originated.

Social Media

  • The city police’s social media wing receives hundreds of complaints every day.
  • To streamline these grievances, the police will integrate emergency and non-emergency messages with the Dial 100 control room.
  • Citizens will receive a unique ID once they file a complaint on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp.
  • The social media wing monitors posts on social media platforms and responds based on priority.
  • After collecting necessary details, the case will be sent to the dispatcher in the main control room who will forward it to the respective Hoysala vehicle nearest to the complainant

Govt to hold enquiry into ‘sale’ of plastic rice, sugar

  • Health and Family Welfare Minister K R Ramesh Kumar on 9th June announced in the Legislative Assembly a thorough enquiry would be conducted to check the veracity of entry of “plastic” rice, sugar and eggs into Karnataka market.
  • After getting the enquiry report, government would be able to confirm or deny by 12th June the reports in the media in this regard,the minister said.
  • Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar said there were reports that plastic sugar, plastic rice and plastic eggs were sold in four to five districts in the state.
  • The adulterated/fake edible items, it is said, were found to be sold in parts of Ramanagaram, Kanakapura, Arsikere and Gangavati. It was also reported that plastic rice was sold under the government sponsored Anna Bhagya scheme.
  • Joining the issue, his party colleague C T Ravi said it was reported that a ration shop in Sriramapura in Gangavati had sold plastic rice.
  • However, Food and Civil Supplies Minister U T Khader argued that there is no adulteration as reported.
  • It is the Food Corporation of India which is supplying rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme.

The Origin

  • The term ‘plastic rice’ first surfaced in China in 2010.
  • Dubbed the Wuchang rice scandal, Chinese officials unearthed a scam by companies who passed off ordinary rice as premium Wuchang rice by adding flavours to it.
  • The Wuchang rice, known for its unique aroma, is exported to various nations. Chinese traders are believed to have made a huge profit through this scam.
  • In 2011, a report by Korean Times said: “Some distributors are selling fake rice in Taiyuan, Shaanxi Province, and this rice is a mixture of potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic.” Needless to say, the report mentioned in detail the hazards of eating synthetic resin. Thus the term ‘plastic rice’ came into existence.
  • TheBBC, last December, reported that a huge shipment of ‘plastic rice’ was seized in Nigeria, making it the first major confiscation. Days later, Nigeria ruled out plastic in the confiscated shipment. “The rice was contaminated with bacteria,” Nigeria’s National Agency For Food and Drugs said.
  • Apart from these two reports, the mainstream media doesn’t have much information on ‘plastic rice’. But the web is flooded with information ranging from YouTube videos on how it is manufactured to “Ways to spot a fake rice.” And the social media too is cluttered with forwards on the “Chinese conspiracy” behind dumping ‘plastic rice’.

Fact Check

  • So is ‘plastic rice’ real? Unfortunately, there is no credible answer to this question.
  • As far as India is concerned, ‘plastic rice’ has never been seized so far, though time and again there have been reports of demonstrations against such rice. Fact verification website snopes.com said the claim stands “unproven”.
  • In a report, it said, “The plastic rice story [and its fellow counterfeit Chinese food export legends] resemble an internationally viral 2007 CCTV segment about pork buns purportedly made with scrap cardboard, for which an independent journalist was eventually detained and accused of faking the oft-referenced story.”

Uranium mining to move out of Gujanal to uninhabited areas

  • Uranium mining is being moved out of Gujanal village in Gokak taluk of Belagavi district after complaints from villagers that deep drilling was making borewell water smell foul.
  • Scientists from the central Atomic Minerals Directorate For Exploration And Research (AMDER) have confirmed that drilling would be moved out of inhabited areas in the village.
  • Officers on site have clarified, however, that it is not a case of leakage of radioactive material and there was no need for alarm.
  • The directorate has been doing a pilot study of uranium mining in Gujanal and two other villages in Belagavi district.
  • While mining in Deshnoor and Suladhal are far from inhabited areas, the drilling points in Gujanal are within settlements.
  • Gujanal residents have been complaining that the mining was polluting groundwater.
  • Water in around five wells in the village has a foul smell & are unable to drink it or use it for washing or bathing they said, in their complaint to the government.
  • They suspect that coolant and other chemicals used in drilling have seeped into the water.

Uranium Mining

  • Uranium miningis the process of extraction of uranium ore from the ground.
  • The worldwide production of uranium in 2015 amounted to 60,496 tonnes.
  • Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia are the top three producers and together account for 70% of world uranium production. Other important uranium producing countries in excess of 1,000 tons per year are Niger, Russia, Namibia, Uzbekistan, China, the United States and Ukraine.
  • Uranium from mining is used almost entirely as fuel for nuclear power plants.
  • Uranium ores are normally processed by grinding the ore materials to a uniform particle size and then treating the ore to extract the uranium by chemical leaching. The milling process commonly yields dry powder-form material consisting of natural uranium, “yellowcake,” which is sold on the uranium market as U3O8.

Health risks of uranium mining

  • Uranium ore emits radon gas. The health effects of high exposure to radon are a particular problem in the mining of uranium; significant excess lung cancer deaths have been identified in epidemiological studies of uranium miners employed in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • The first major studies with radon and health occurred in the context of uranium mining, first in the Joachimsthal region of Bohemia and then in the Southwestern United States during the early Cold War.
  • Because radon is a product of the radioactive decay of uranium, underground uranium mines may have high concentrations of radon. Many uranium miners in the Four Corners region contracted lung cancer and other pathologies as a result of high levels of exposure to radon in the mid-1950s.
  • The increased incidence of lung cancer was particularly pronounced among Native American and Mormon miners, because those groups normally have low rates of lung cancer.Safety standards requiring expensive ventilation were not widely implemented or policed during this period.
  • In studies of uranium miners, workers exposed to radon levels of 50 to 150 picocuries of radon per liter of air (2000–6000 Bq/m3) for about 10 years have shown an increased frequency of lung cancer.
  • Statistically significant excesses in lung cancer deaths were present after cumulative exposures of less than 50 WLM.
  • There is, however, unexplained heterogeneity in these results (whose confidence interval do not always overlap). The size of the radon-related increase in lung cancer risk varied by more than an order of magnitude between the different studies.
  • Since that time, ventilation and other measures have been used to reduce radon levels in most affected mines that continue to operate. In recent years, the average annual exposure of uranium miners has fallen to levels similar to the concentrations inhaled in some homes. This has reduced the risk of occupationally induced cancer from radon, although it still remains an issue both for those who are currently employed in affected mines and for those who have been employed in the past. The power to detect any excess risks in miners nowadays is likely to be small, exposures being much smaller than in the early years of mining.

FSSAI reminds TTD about licence for ‘laddu’

  • An RTI query has revealed that the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) is yet to respond to letters sent a year ago by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) asking why they had not taken a food licence or allowed authorities to inspect their kitchen.
  • Subsequently, the FSSAI sent two reminders on June 1, 2016 and on March 30 this year. After not getting any response, the FSSAI has asked the TDD to reply to its queries by June 15.
  • According to the FSSAI, TTD manufactures more than 20 tonnes of laddus per day, which are handed over to devotees as prasadam.
  • As per the Food Safety and Standards Act, this is considered a food business for which a licence should be obtained.
  • The letter states that obtaining a licence is mandatory.
  • The premises where the prasadam is prepared should be inspected by FSSAI officials as per instruction from the Regulatory Compliance Division wing, New Delhi.
  • Being a pilgrimage institution, this office is intending to inspect the premises at a convenient date, with the co-operation of the organisation. Hence, the TTD is requested to inform the date and time for inspection as early as possible
  • Narasimhamurthy, a resident of Bengaluru who had filed an RTI in this regard, wants the temple, one of the biggest pilgrim centres in the world, to comply with the law of the land.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India

  • FSSAI was established by Government of India on 5 September 2008 under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India. FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
  • The FSSAI is headed by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government, either holding or has held the position of not below the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. Ashish Bahuguna is the current Chairperson for FSSAI and Pawan Kumar Agarwal is the current Chief Executive Officer for FSSAI.
  • The FSSAI has its headquarters at New Delhi. The authority also has 6 regional offices located in Delhi, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kolkata, Cochin and Chennai.
  • 14 referral laboratories notified by FSSAI, 72 State/UT laboratories located throughout India and 112 laboratories are NABL accredited private laboratories notified by FSSAI.

Doctors Shortage: Rural service rule to be relaxed

  • The State government has decided to impose the rule only for those who have secured seats under the government quota.
  • This comes at a time when the Health Department is struggling to fill over 1,400 posts in its village health centres.
  • The proposal to amend the Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act, 2012, has been approved by the State Cabinet and is likely to be passed during the ongoing session of the State legislature.
  • Previously, this service rule applied to all medical graduates, including those who had obtained seats under NRI and management quotas. However, students approached the court and obtained a stay on it.
  • Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Shalini Rajneesh told that the changed rule would not come in the way of their efforts to recruit doctors for rural postings.
  • The vacancies are high in the specialists category. It will be a problem of plenty if all MBBS graduates are made to take up rural service. That is why they are amending the rule so that there will be a regular flow of doctors as government-quota students cannot forgo rural service
  • Meanwhile, the Health Department is also recruiting 1,430 doctors through the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC). According to a gazette notification issued on May 24, applications will be called for 1,065 specialist doctors and 365 general duty medical officers (GDMOs).
  • Despite enhanced salaries and incentives, there are not many takers for medical posts in the department.
  • The department’s previous recruitment drive conducted through the KPSC in 2015 validated this.
  • Of the 1,122 applicants, only 597 had reported for duty. In 2012, although applications had been called for 600 posts of specialist, a mere 75 joined duty.
  • After 2005, although the department has been recruiting through the KPSC once in two years, the response has always been poor. With low pay scale being a major grouse that have kept medical graduates from joining State-run hospitals, the department hiked the salaries in July 2015.
  • Doctors were ready to work for even lower salaries in a small hospital in urban areas rather than a taluk hospital or primary health centre.
  • Inadequate infrastructure in rural hospitals and specialists having to also function as casualty medical officers are the main reasons for the dismally poor response

Mansoor to be made ‘Seed Village’

  • Karnatak University, Dharwad, plans to convert Mansoor village, which it has adopted for ensuring development, into a “Seed Village” in the coming years.
  • Vice-Chancellor of Karnatak University Pramod Gai made the announcement here recently after inaugurating a programme organised to distribute seed packets and saplings to residents of Mansoor village in Dhawad taluk.
  • Addressing a gathering of farmers, Prof. Gai said that at a time when farmers would be beginning farm activities in view of a good rainfall expected, the university would educate them on the need to preserve native varieties.
  • Gai said that Dharwad-based Sarpan seeds had joined hands with the university in helping farmers.
  • Managing Director of Sarpan Seeds N.B. Gaddagimath spoke on how drip irrigation would help in retaining fertility of soil and in water management.
  • Joint Director of Agriculture T.S. Rudreshappa called upon farmers to construct Krishi Hondas (farm ponds) in their fields. President of Mansoor Gram Panchayat Rukmini Tegur and others spoke.

Greening of Chamundi Hills may prove an uphill battle

  • Increasing the green cover on Chamundi Hills may turn out to be a major challenge for the Forest Department, given the degraded top soil and diminished water holding capacity there.
  • According to officials, unless extra measures are in place to enrich the soil of Chamundi Hills, it will be difficult to install a green canopy as visualised.
  • Deputy Conservator of Forests V. Karikalan said the soil of Chamundi Hills is highly degraded and does not support much vegetation.
  • The top soil is eroded and a blueprint for greening Chamundi Hills was conceived, but it turned out to be very expensive,
  • But conservation of the hill and its environment is a must.
  • So they have to adopt other methods such as digging pits, covering the top layer with good soil procured from elsewhere, and enriching [the soil] with natural fertilizers
  • Because of the degradation, the soil’s natural water holding capacity is negligible and hence, soil enrichment will receive priority, the official said. But this is reckoned to be a long-term plan given the cost and scale of the regeneration programme.

Eye on Eucalyptus

  • The Forest Department also plans to take up systematic removal of eucalyptus plantation around Chamundi Hills.
  • If left unchecked, the eucalyptus could cover the entire hillock, resulting in loss of biodiversity besides increasing the rate of soil degradation and groundwater depletion
  • Eucalyptus and other exotic plant species will be supplanted by native and indigenous species including medicinal plants.
  • While the hill sports a green canopy during the rainy season, it turns bone dry during summer.
  • The 100-hectare Chamundi Devi Vana at the foothills, which acts as a buffer, is green and rich in vegetation because of the sustained effort of the Forest Department.
  • The saplings planted at Devi Vana and the nursery are enriched with nutrients and watered regularly, besides being accorded protection.
  • Hence, they have survived. But under natural conditions, the success rate of saplings planted will not be as high
  • Chamundi Hills has a rocky terrain with dry and deciduous tree cover, but despite the degraded soil it is a treasure trove of biodiversity, supporting over 150 bird species and 400 plant species.

Union govt. to approve Rs. 1,400 cr. for two projects under UKP

  • Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Balyan has said that the Union government would soon approve Rs. 1,400 crore for two projects submitted by the State government under the Upper Krishna Project (UKP).
  • The projects include the installation of gates at the left bank canals of Narayanpur.
  • 70 crore had been released by the Union government and his ministry was collecting details on the utilisation of the funds.
  • Most North-Indian States already have irrigation facilities and therefore did not require much irrigation funds as compared to South-Indian States where large tracts of lands remained to be irrigated.
  • States such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra require better irrigation facilities. Thus, the Union government is focussing more on these States

River-linking project

  • As part of the ambitious river-linking project, in the first phase, the decision had been taken to link the Ken of Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa of Uttar Pradesh and added that the project would be implemented beginning September this year.
  • With regard to inter-State water disputes in the country, the Minister made it clear that the Union government would not intervene in these matters.
  • Already tribunals had been functioning to address such issues.

Upper Krishna Project

  • The Upper Krishna Project consists of construction of two dams across the river Krishna and a network of canals.
  • The main storage is at Almatti Dam, a few kilometers downstream of the confluence of Ghataprabha River and Krishna river.
  • A lower dam, Narayanpur Dam, situated at Narayanpur a few Kilometer downstream of the confluence of Malaprabha river and Krishna river, will serve as a diversion dam.
  • The Project is planned to be implemented in different Stages and Phases. Stage-I of the project plans to utilise 119 TMC of water to irrigate 4,25,000 Hectares and in Stage-II 54 TMC of water will be utilised, to irrigate 1,97,120 Hectares.
  • The Command areas of drought prone districts of Northern Karnataka viz: Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Bijapur and Bagalkot are to be irrigated under UKP Stage-I and II with total utilisaton 173 TMC of water.
  • Already the project of UKP Stage-I and II is almost completed and Irrigation potential 6.08 Lakh Hectares is created.

Proposed steel flyover to ease traffic snarls?

  • The 326-m steel flyover, the proposal for which was cleared by the State Cabinet on 6th June, will come up at Shivananda Circle on Hare Krishna Road from Racecourse Road towards Seshadripuram.
  • The project, however, is being opposed on three counts — lack of public consultation, opposition to flyovers within the central business district and the view that the flyover will not resolve traffic congestion on the stretch.
  • Naresh Narasimhan of Citizens for Bengaluru, which led the citizens’ movement against the steel flyover that was proposed on Ballari Road, said flyovers do not solve the problem of traffic congestion but only pass on the bottleneck to another area.
  • Short pass-overs are necessary only where arterial roads intersect the feeder roads.
  • Srinivas Alavilli, also from CfB, said that as it was done with the now-shelved Ballari Road steel flyover project, the BBMP should put out a detailed project report of this project in public domain and hold public consultations.
  • Traffic and technical experts have expressed doubts over the proposed flyover solving the traffic congestion.
  • Traffic expert M.N. Srihari said the flyover at Shivananda Circle would not solve anything, and argued that the road geometry on the stretch would pose a huge challenge to build a flyover.
  • Hare Krishna Road becomes narrower and bends as it touches Racecourse Road. This will give little scope for a service road for the traffic below
  • Jaigopal, former member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the BBMP, said the flyover was unlikely to resolve traffic bottlenecks on the stretch.

MoEF treads carefully on project to make Jog Falls perennial

  • The future of the government’s proposal to make Jog Falls in Shivamogga district perennial will now be decided by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the locals of the region.
  • MoEF has decided that its officials will visit the site, assess the project details and interact independently with locals of Sagar and Shivamogga.
  • This is likely to put the government in a spot of bother as people in Sagar and Shivamogga are against the project, but the government is keen to go ahead.
  • At the last meeting of the MoEF’s expert appraisal committee for river and hydroelectric projects in Delhi in April, it deferred the proposal, saying it shall be reconsidered after submission of the site visit report by the sub-committee.

As Per MoEF

  • They will collect ground details and interact with the locals.
  • If they are not convinced with the proposal, the MoEF will have to rethink on it.
  • Many locals and forest department officials are not happy with the idea of making Jog Falls perennial.
  • MoEF wants to know the exact reason . They want to know how the government has planned to make it perennial and what will be its consequences

Near Jog Falls

  • Members of the Jog Falls Authority are waiting for an official communication from the MoEF on the dates for the team’s visit.
  • They are trying to convince local residents and explain to them how the project will be useful for the district’s economy and tourism.
  • The team will visit the site in the coming days to collect baseline data of pre-monsoon and monsoon rains for at least two years (especially since there is no flow from November to June), the provision of minimum flow to be maintained throughout the year, detailed hydrology of Shravathy river, cascading effect of water drawal for the project, details of construction of retaining walls and its suitable alternatives, details of forest and non-forest land required for the project and wildlife clearances.

Centre seeks clarification on Kasturirangan report

  • The Centre has sought clarification regarding the state government’s decision to reject the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats, Forest Minister Ramanath Rai informed the Legislative Council on 7th June.
  • In a written reply to Ivan D’Souza (Cong), Rai said the state in April this year had conveyed to the Centre that it had rejected the recommendations.
  • In February this year, Ministry of Environment and Forest sought objections from the state on declaration of 20,668 sq km in the Western Ghats in the state as Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESAs).
  • The decision was taken based on feedback from villages classified as ESAs.
  • The villages did not want the recommendations to be implemented as they will hamper livelihood.

Karnataka to provide legal assistance to IT association

  • Minister for IT, Biotechnology and Tourism Priyank Kharge has assured of providing legal assistance to IT employees’ association in the State, according to the IT/ITeS Employee Centre (ITEC).
  • Kharge has proposed a multi-pronged approach to look into the issues affecting IT employees.
  • In a recent meeting, the Minister had said that the government will entrust a senior advocate to provide legal view and explore possible options that can be beneficial to employees.
  • After the reports of large scale layoffs by companies like Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, and Tech Mahindra, several employee groups had met the Minister to convey their worries.

Joint meeting

  • As per the association, Mr. Kharge said the government will conduct a joint meeting of IT employees’ representatives, and officials of Labour Department, IT Department and IT sector leaders.
  • The IT/ITeS Employee Centre also said that the Minister’s office assured that the Labour Department will provide speedy response and due attention to the complaints raised by employees regarding the layoffs.
  • The members of Forum for I.T. Employees, Bengaluru chapter, met the Minister and submitted a petition to reconsider the government’s decision to exempt IT firms from the labour law.
  • In 2014, the State government under Section 14 of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, had exempted IT/ITeS, startups, animation, gaming, and other knowledge-based industries from the applicability of the Act for five years.

Farmers’ strike leads to hoarding, speculation in onion trade

  • Fearing that the ongoing farmers’ strike in Maharashtra will hit supplies, traders in Karnataka have started hoarding the produce, leading to sudden escalation in prices in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee. Supplies and prices are expected to take a further hit if the strike continues.
  • Ravi Kumar of Bangalore Potato and Onion Traders’ Association said the arrivals of onions to the city has not been affected yet.
  • On 5th June, there were 290 trucks. But, the price, which was trading in the range of Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,000, two days ago, has now shot up to Rs. 1,000-Rs. 1,200. If the strike continues, the arrivals are likely to be affected and the prices will rise
  • A senior procurement official from a prominent retail chain in Bengaluru said onions are also supplied from Madhya Pradesh, which was helping maintain a balance in supply.
  • However, farmers are on strike in Madhya Pradesh too, leading to fears of supply deficit. He said the cost increased by Rs. 5 in the last four days — up from Rs. 8 per kilo to Rs. 12-Rs. 13 per kilo now.
  • However, the supply onions to Belagavi had fallen by more than 60%, while that of potatoes had fallen by over 90%,
  • Every week, the agriculture produce marketing committee wholesale market yard receives around 7,000 tonnes of onions and potatoes each.
  • But, since the strike began on June 1, arrivals have shrunk to around 3,000 tonnes of onion and just 800 tonnes of potato,” said M.B. Srinivas, secretary of the committee and joint director of the agriculture marketing department.
  • However, traders in Bengaluru and Belagavi caution that price of onions are set to shoot up in the coming two days, if the strike is not called off and the movement of farm goods across the border is not normalised.
  • The State is, at present, heavily dependent on Maharashtra as there was no supply of onions within the region.

 

Community health officers to help mitigate problem of doctors shortage

  • Mysuru Medical College and Research Institute (MMCRI) is one among the two medical institutions in the State selected by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to launch a bridge course for professionals in nursing, ayurveda, paramedical and other clinical backgrounds to develop them as ‘mid-level service providers’ or ‘community health officers’.
  • The one-year course will be introduced from this academic year.
  • The course, with an intake of 40 students, will be inaugurated on Monday under the National Health Mission.
  • The students for the inaugural course have been selected based on merit. The course certificate in community health will be awarded by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).

Other Institutes

  • Krishnamurthy, MMCRI Director and Dean, told that the Centre had introduced the course on a pilot basis with Mysuru and Lingasugur as the nodal centres in the State.
  • The course may be extended to other institutes subsequently based on the success of the course. The bridge course model community healthcare had been introduced in Malaysia and had helped to address the needs of basic healthcare there, he explained.
  • Krishnamurthy said the candidates will be posted at sub-centres as mid-level healthcare service providers to provide basic healthcare.
  • These service providers cannot be alternatives to doctors. But they will be discharging the role as basic healthcare providers obtaining skills for the tasks in the course

Better Services

  • One of the main reasons for introducing the course was to address the issue of shortage of doctors and ensure continuous public healthcare services besides implementing government healthcare programmes.
  • This will be the first time such a course had been introduced to overcome the shortage of trained healthcare professionals in rural areas,
  • However people should not depend on big hospitals (barring for advanced care) for basic healthcare when such services were available in their towns and villages.
  • The purpose of developing mid-level healthcare professionals was to bring public health facilities closer to places where people live.
  • Efforts are on to establish an equally competent public healthcare system in rural areas to address their needs

Six lakh doctors

  • As per the WHO report, India needs about six lakh doctors at the rate of one doctor for 1,000 people
  • The curriculum for the bridge course will be based on B.Sc. (Community Health) with theory and practical classes for the candidates at the MMCRI Study Centre under IGNOU.

Drones to drop soaked seeds over Pinakini riverbank

  • The parched Gauribidanur taluk in Chickballapur district will see seeds being dropped from drones on 5th June.
  • The UAVs, provided by the Aerospace Department of Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, will disperse soaked seeds over the now-dried-up Pinakini riverbank, in a bid to increase the green cover.
  • This will be part of World Environment Day celebrations.
  • Four to five drones, each of which can carry up to 5 kg of seeds, will make multiple sorties, in a new attempt to go green in the region.
  • An IISc. team, including professors K.P.J. Reddy, Omkar, and Jagadish, will provide technical support.
  • Meanwhile, the Department of Forests in Kolar has readied around half a lakh seed balls to be scattered over wasteland and on hills in this perennially drought-hit district.
  • These seed balls were prepared by the public, including schoolchildren, at a workshop last weekend.
  • The seed balls, which have been made with manure-mixed soil, contain honge, amla, subabul, peepul and sandalwood seeds.
  • Assistant Conservator of Forests Venkatesh said that the success rate of germination from seed balls and growth of the saplings is 20% to 25%.

CSR initiative pulls back lake from brink of extinction

  • Rejuvenating a lake in 45 days may seem like a pipe dream against the “decades of work” by the government which leaves the lakes frothing. But a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative has shown the way.
  • The 36-acre Kyalasanahalli lake, which looked more like a pond till two months ago, has seen a transformation in 45 days thanks to the timely work taken up by a city-based company.
  • Durgesh Agrahari of SayTrees said, on April 20, Sansera Foundation, CSR arm of city-based company Sansera Engineering, adopted “what looked like a pond” at Kyalasanahalli in Bommasandra.
  • They have worked relentlessly for the last 45 days to make it what it is today. It is not just the lake, but the surrounding area also has seen a lot of change
  • K Y Sheshappa, a village leader, said about 12 acres of the 36-acre lake were encroached by residents for agriculture.
  • If the government had taken up the project, recovering the encroached land would have been tough.
  • NGO SayTrees brought together 1,600 volunteers to plant 4,000 saplings on the lake’s bund and islets in the lake.

Karnataka to forgo a dozen existing taxes on GST rollout

  • With less than a month left for the nationwide rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Karnataka will forgo nearly a dozen of the existing taxes totalling revenue of around Rs. 50,000 crore a year as they will be subsumed by the GST.
  • The GST would subsume the State value-added tax (VAT), Central sales tax, luxury tax, entry tax (all forms), entertainment and amusement tax (except when levied by local bodies), tax on advertisements, purchase tax, taxes on lotteries, betting and gambling, State surcharges and cess, as they pertain to supply of goods and services.
  • The VAT (Rs. 36,000 crore a year) brings in the highest share to the revenue basket of the State.
  • The Finance Department has not yet estimated the exact revenue loss or gain to the State as the GST Council has not completed the exercise of fixing tax rates on various commodities.
  • The State would gain due to higher compliance levels and widening of the tax base.
  • However, officials in the Finance Department feel implementation of various development projects may get adversely affected in the event the Centre delays payment of compensation for the State under the GST regime.

Outside GST

  • Only a few taxes will continue to remain out of the GST. They are professional tax (Rs. 900 crore), State excise (Rs. 18,050 crore), motor vehicles (Rs. 6006 crore), stamps and registration (Rs. 9,000 crore).
  • GST will apply to all goods, other than alcohol and five petroleum products petroleum crude, motor spirit (petrol), high speed diesel, natural gas and aviation turbine fuel.
  • Taxes on entertainment and amusement to the extent levied and collected by urban and local bodies or a regional council will not be subsumed under GST.
  • Businesses in the State are the most prepared to shift to the new indirect tax system, with a maximum number of 93.27% of the more than 5.50 lakh taxpayers already enrolling for GST.
  • Many States, including West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir, are not prepared for roll-out of the new tax regime.

Legislature session

  • The legislature session, which commences on June 5, will discuss the new tax regime, particularly taxes levied by States, to be called State GST (SGST).
  • Central GST and SGST will be levied at rates recommended by the GST Council. The State legislature has to make a law with respect to SGST.

Karnataka HC: Stop the police from interfering in civil disputes

  • The police often indulge in “mediating” civil and commercial disputes, particularly those involving large sums of money, the High Court of Karnataka has clearly told the State Police Chief that if no action is taken, it will only indicate that policemen have the “backing of higher-ups” to indulge in such an illegal activity.
  • “It is disturbing that there is no positive action taken either by the State or by the top brass of the police in checking this menace and putting in place a regulatory mechanism to prevent such intervention by the police,” the court said.
  • It also observed that the job of the police is not to act as arbitrators between the parties, and involve themselves in monetary transaction.
  • The court, in its recent order, has directed the State Police Chief to address the situation across Bengaluru and other parts of the State and to ensure that any police officer indulging in such activity shall be dealt with “strictest punishment” while seeking a report on actions initiated.
  • Time and again, it is noticed that the police take initiative of mediating civil and commercial disputes particularly those which involve large sum of money.
  • Apparently, that is the consideration for the police to intervene and use their influence and power to settle matters many a times by recourse to measures akin to forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Kali kayak fest draws people in droves

  • The three-day ‘Kali Kayak Festival’ (KKF) which took off on a enthusiastic note at Aveda village near Ganesh Gudi in Joida taluk of Uttara Kannada district on 2nd June saw a large number of participants and a good number of spectators on the second day of the event on 3rd June.
  • On day two of the festival over 100 kayakers took part in the beginners’ section, and residents of nearby places and sports enthusiasts kept pouring in to watch the paddlesports.
  • According to some of the participants, the turnout for the event is the highest so far when compared with other similar fests held in the country,
  • The KKF is an initiative of the Department of Youth Affairs, Karnataka, and General Thimayya National Academy of Adventure and is supported by south India’s only whitewater kayak training school, Goodwave Adventures.
  • The event is aimed at showcasing Karnataka’s potential for international adventure tourism and promoting paddlesports among the youth in the country. Kali river in Uttara Kannada district is known for adventure sports, such as rafting.
  • Including kayaking enthusiasts from across the country and abroad, the total of number of participants in the first-ever such kayak festival being held in Karnataka stood at 167 on 3rd June.
  • The participants include kayakers from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Nepal, and various parts of India, including Karnataka.
  • Minister for Youth Empowerment and Sports Pramod Madhwaraj, who inaugurated the event on 2nd June, promised to take steps to regulate water in the Kali to facilitate kayaking throughout the year.

Land reforms bill sent to President for approval

  • The amended land reforms bill which facilitates the grant of ownership to agricultural labourers in respect of the houses built on land not belonging to them has been referred to the President for his assent.
  • Sources in the law department said the bill, after being passed in the state legislature, was forwarded to the governor for his assent. The governor ‘reserved’ his opinion. The bill was forwarded to the President on May 31.
  • The amended bill was passed by a voice vote with all parties supporting the measure, in the Assembly in March.
  • Recently, 10 MLAs barged into Speaker K B Koliwad’s office and questioned as to why the bill had not become law.
  • They blamed the officers for holding back the bill and not sending it to Raj Bhavan.
  • A law department officer had explained to Koliwad that the bill may have to get the President’s assent as it involved giving compensation to land owners who have to give up the houses to agricultural labourers.
  • Hence, there was delay in forwarding it to the governor. But the MLAs had argued that there should have been no delay in sending it to the governor.

HC allows Yard House to function in lake area

  • The High Court of Karnataka on 2nd June permitted Yard House Brewery Pvt. Ltd. to run their business of a bar and restaurant situated in the Bellandur lake area on the condition that the units should not discharge any effluent, either treated or untreated, into Bellandur lake.
  • A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar passed the interim order on the petition filed by the company questioning the closure order issued by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and disconnection of power supply to their premises by the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM).
  • The Bench made it clear that the brewery must not operate till there is an inspection by the joint inspection team and an analysis of effluents is conducted.

Electricity Connection

  • The Court also directed the Bescom to restore the electricity connection in accordance with the law to the bar and restaurant.
  • The KSPCB’s direction was based on the National Green Tribunal’s order that “all the industries which have been located in the catchment area of Bellandur lake and were discharging their effluent (treated or untreated) into the water body, would be closed forthwith.
  • No industry would be permitted to operate unless they have been subjected to inspection by the joint inspection team and the effluent has been found to be within permissible limit
  • A counsel for the petitioner-company pointed out to the Bench that Yard House was running a brewery in the ground floor of the building, and a bar and restaurant on the first, second and third floors.
  • The counsel said that the brewery on the ground floor was closed by them following KSPCB’s direction. However, it questioned the legality of the order for closure of even the bar and restaurant by the KSPCB.

State dragging its feet on GM mustard issue

  • Amidst the debate over introducing genetically modified (GM) mustard across the country, and many States having opposed it already, Karnataka is yet to “start the consultation process” to state its stand on the subject.
  • Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda confirmed that the State government is yet to decide on the controversial issue.
  • Major mustard producing States, including Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan, have already opposed introducing GM mustard, and southern States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu — though not major mustard producers — have also written to the Union government opposing it.
  • Meanwhile farmers’ groups have urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to write to the Centre urging it to reject the GM crop.
  • Their demand comes in the wake of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) recommending commercialisation of GM mustard, developed by Delhi University.
  • The Union Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change is yet to take a final call. Minister of State for Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science & Technology Priyank Kharge said that two rounds of meetings had taken place with the Agriculture ministry and one round of consultations with the Vision Group on BT on the issue.
  • The Biotechnology department does not recommend the technology to the farming community directly.
  • Ultimately, the State government and the Agriculture Department has to take a call on the commercialisation of GM mustard, and the ministry will give necessary inputs
  • Kharge agreed that the decision has to be taken cautiously.
  • He said the general policy on commercialisation of GM crops could be taken on a “case to case” basis as they can have different impact.
  • Incidentally, mustard is a minor crop in Karnataka and is cultivated as an inter-crop or a border crop. Of the nine oil seeds grown in the State, mustard cultivation and production is the least.
  • Of the total of 33 lakh acres under oil seed cultivation, mustard is cultivated in about 13,000 acres.
  • KRRS leader Kodihalli Chandrashekar said mustard is being considered for future expansion by premier mustard research institutes in the country.
  • What farmers need, including groundnut farmers and other oilseed farmers in Karnataka, is better pricing and procurement policies instead of corporate-driven technologies like GMO (genetically modified organisms).
  • Kavitha Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, who met Mr. Krishna Byre Gowda in Bengaluru recently to highlight the issue, said that Kerala and Tamil Nadu, like Karnataka, are not major producers. But consumer interest should also be considered

Pvt. vehicles cannot be hired to ferry schoolchildren: RTO

  • S. Hegde, in charge senior regional transport officer, has said that legal action will be taken against private vehicles transporting children to school violating norms.
  • Hegde said private vehicles could not be hired to transport children to school.
  • The RTO will initiate legal action and also keep under suspension the registration of such private vehicles.
  • The release said vehicles ferrying students to school should have permit to operate as a contract carriage.

The Rules

  • The vehicle should have 12+1 seats and there should be a speed governor limiting the speed to 40 km per hour. There should be space in the vehicle to keep school bags.
  • The vehicle should not be more than 15 years old from the date of registration.
  • It should be yellow in colour with a 150 mm wide green strip.
  • The vehicle should clearly mention school van on all four sides.
  • If the vehicle was fitted with a LPG kit, it should be the one installed by the authorised agency and certified by the RTO.
  • Hegde said the vehicle should not use tinted glasses and it should have safe locking system.
  • The driver of the vehicle should have at least four years of driving experience.
  • The details of the permitholder should be clearly displayed in the vehicle. Details of children and route it was plying should also be available.
  • The school van should have proper roof. Each school should have School Van Safety Committee

Digital exhibition on Sardar Patel begins in B’luru

  • The digital exhibition on ‘Uniting India: Sardar Patel’, one of the ambitious initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to highlight efforts of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in uniting India was inaugurated by Governor Vajubhai R Vala at Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum (VITM)
  • The Rs 80-lakh digital exhibition by the Ministry of Culture has been developed by the National Council of Science Museum.
  • The exhibits are designed by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
  • The exhibition deals with the life and works of Sardar Patel, challenges he faced, princely states and unification of India, trauma of partition, rehabilitating, rebuilding and recreating India, foundations of democratic governance
  • Technologies such as 3D films (without glasses), holographic projection and oculus-based virtual reality experience have been used in the exhibition.
  • The archives include accession documents signed by various princely states that were a result of Patel’s role in integrating the nation by convincing princely states to join the Union.
  • Some of the very rare archival information and content have been sourced from the archives of the National Archives of India.
  • The exhibits feature different kinds of interactive and media experience. They provide a range of opportunities to engage with various digital installations explaining the role of Patel in the unification of India
  • The exhibits were installed at Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai and Hyderabad and then in Bengaluru

Karnataka State sets up 7th pay commission

  • The State government on 1st June constituted the seventh pay commission and appointed the former IAS officer Srinivas Murthy as its chairman.
  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced the constitution of a pay commission in the 2017–18 State Budget for revising the the pay scales of about six lakh State government employees.
  • This would mean that the state government employees of Karnataka will soon get to hear good news about a pay hike.
  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced the constitution of the pay commission in the State budget for 2017-18, for revision of pay-scale of about six lakh State government employees.
  • It may be recalled that the employees of the Karnataka government had called off the strike scheduled for May 4 protesting the lack of a salary hike.
  • They took the decision following an assurance by the CM who agreed to set up a panel to explore the possibility of a pay hike. Now with the pay commission being set up, the Karnataka government employees can soon expect a pay hike.

Benefit for 6 lakh employees

  • The setting up of the commission by the Karnataka government would mean there is good news on its way for 6 lakh employees.
  • The strike call for May 4 was backed by pensioners as well. However the strike was called off following an assurance.

Assurance by finance department

  • An assurance by the finance department of Karnataka was given that the grievances of the employees would be looked into.
  • The finance department had approved the proposal and had said that it would notify a commission soon. The proposal saw the light of the day with Siddaramaiah constituting the 7th Pay Commission.

What state employees are asking for

  • The demand by the state government employees of Karnataka is that they want a pay hike.The Karnataka State Government employees association have asked for release of 30 per cent of amount (with effect from April 1, 2017) as an interim relief.

Karnataka: Chief Secretary told to provide tech support to quasi-judicial bodies

  • The Karnataka High Court on 1st June directed the Chief Secretary to provide hardware and software to them within four months to eliminate delays and to promote disposal of cases.
  • Justice A.N. Venugoapala Gowda issued the direction while disposing of a petition related to delay caused by Deputy Commissioner of Tumakuru district in disposing of a case related to transfer of land under the Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands) Act, 1978, through which the court examined pendency of cases before various quasi-judicial bodies in the State.
  • While directing that all quasi-judicial bodies should web host the proceedings and issue final order in every case with promptness, the court also said that all the authorities performing quasi-judicial functions should endeavour to expedite the hearing and decide the cases in a time-bound manner of six months, from the time the case reaches the stage of hearing oral arguments.
  • Also, the court directed the Chief Secretary to ensure the departmental heads that the authorities performing quasi-judicial functions give preference to quasi-judicial cases and take up cases on the scheduled hearing dates and try to expedite hearing of the cases, which in turn will restore the confidence of the common man in the justice delivery system.

 World Environment Day: Zilla panchayat to clear garbage along highways

  • The Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat has decided to undertake a one-time exercise to clear garbage dumped on the flanks of State and national Highways in Mangaluru and Bantwal taluks to mark World Environment Day on June 5.
  • The exercise is also aimed at creating awareness among the residents about proper disposal of waste.
  • The panchayat has identified 35 places under 38 gram panchayats for the drive, where garbage is being rampantly thrown.
  • About 50-70 tonnes of garbage is estimated to have been dumped in those places.
  • While gram panchayats are bound to keep surroundings clean, lack of punitive powers to deal with people dumping waste has affected the move.
  • Chief Executive Officer said after the cleanliness drive, the ZP will plant saplings in most of the 35 places to discourage people from dumping waste.
  • The Mangaluru City Corporation has promised to take all the collected waste at its Pachchanadi dumping yard
  • The meeting was attended by stakeholders from educational institutions, panchayat development officers, heads of educational institutions and other invitees who offered to cooperate with the initiative.
  • A representative of voluntary service organization said that his organisation intends to set up parks in waste dumping spots on the Mangaluru-Moodbidri road, but is wary of proceeding since the area has been marked for expansion of the national highway.
  • Some participants highlighted lack of designated dumping yards for gram panchayats which force rampant disposal of solid waste.
  • Ramakrishna Mission’s Swatch Mangaluru Abhiyan Convener Swamy Ekagamyanandaji said the Mission would extend all its help to the initiative.

Aeration exercise taken up

  • The district administration under the supervision of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) undertook aeration exercise in the stagnant water downstream of Malavoor vented dam across the Phalguni (Gurupura) on 1st June.
  • The exercise aims to increase oxygen levels, which had reached zero level and also to loosen the sludge sediments of waste accumulated at the bottom of the river.
  • KSPCB’s Environment Officer Rajashekar Puranik, who was supervising the exercise, told that the district administration had asked Dakshina Kannada Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union (DKMUL) and the Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilisers (MCF) to undertake aeration exercise to increase dissolved oxygen level in the water.
  • While one air-compressor fitted to a tractor was being used in the morning to blow air to the subsurface, four more such units would have to be deployed even on 2nd June as the area is vast
  • As the air was blown to the subsurface of the river, thick black sediments came out bringing up all kinds of waste thrown into the river, including plastic and other material.
  • Puranik said that expected fresh water flow into the river with the onset of Monsoon is expected to flush out the sediments further down towards the sea.

State seeks Centre’s okay for Rs 45K-cr water project

  • Karnataka on 1st June urged the Centre to approve its long-pending Rs 45,000-crore worth drinking water project proposal to supply clean water to villages located near rivers.
  • The state government had submitted the proposal to the Centre seeking funds to provide drinking water to villages on river banks. The government should expedite its approval
  • Nanjayyanamatt, who met Union Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation Ramesh Jigajinagi here said that the project would help address the water crisis in several villages located close to rivers.
  • As the project requires huge investment, the state requested the Centre to share the burden. The Union Minister promised to study the proposal in detail
  • While demanding that the Centre sanction the remaining amount of the Rs 386 crore allotted to Karnataka under Swachh Bharat Yojana, he also sought an additional Rs 700 crore to build toilets to make the state open defecation free.
  • To make the state open defecation free, another 27 lakh toilets have to be built