Karnataka Govt: Over-exploitation pushed down water table in 143 taluks
- On 22nd March, the government presented a grim picture of the water situation. Groundwater levels in 143 of the total 176 taluks in the state have depleted during the last 10 years due to over-exploitation.
- Static groundwater levels were measured from 1,774 borewells maintained by the Groundwater Directorate across the state. No water is drawn from these borewells and they are maintained only for study purpose.
- A comparison of water levels between 2007 and 2016 revealed depletion in groundwater levels in 143 taluks.
- The groundwater depletion in Kolar taluk, Kolar district, is the worst with a fall by 54.81 metres during the last 10 years.
- These and more details were given by Minor Irrigation Minister T B Jayachandra to the Legislative Council. He was replying to a question by Basavaraj Horatti (JD-S).
- Deforestation, consecutive droughts and increase in density of borewells have been identified as the causes for the depletion.
- Drilling of borewells has been restricted in taluks where there has been over-exploitation of the water table. Permission will have to be obtained from jurisdictional deputy commissioner for drilling new borewells.
- The government will strictly implement the ban on planting saplings of eucalyptus and acacia trees as they caused ecological imbalance.
- Jayachandra said scientific studies had proved that cultivation of eucalyptus and acacia caused depletion of water table.
KSOU won’t expand beyond state
- Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy said that the state will not expand the activities of Karnataka State Open University to other states.
- Efforts are being made to ensure the university gets back the University Grants Commission’s recognition. It would be sufficient if the university caters to students of Karnataka, he added.
- The minister said that he was aware of the inconvenience students are facing due of the derecognition.
- The government would not appeal in the Supreme Court seeking permission to the university to function outside Karnataka, he said.
- Primary and Secondary Education Minister Tanveer Sait said the government would enact a law stipulating the number of years a government school teacher has to work in a place.
- The minister said government teachers do bring in pressure from legislators to get their postings changed. Hence, a law is planned to address this problem, he added.
Karnataka: Tata pulls out of Haveri steel plant project
- Major Industries Minister R V Deshpande said Tata Metaliks Ltd has withdrawn its Rs 15,000-cr steel plant project from Haveri.
- He said in the Assembly that last October, Tata Metaliks informed the government that the project had become nonviable because of non-availability of mines and iron ore.
- It has requested the government to refund the money paid for allotment of land. The government is examining the request.
- The company had planned to establish a 3 MTPA integrated steel plant with an investment of Rs 15,000 crore on 2,500 acres of land in various villages in Haveri taluk.
- The project was cleared by the State High Level Clearance Committee. A preliminary notification on land acquisition was issued in 2010.
- The minister gave details in reply to questions raised by Basavaraj N Shivannanavar (Cong). The MLA said farmers who parted with land are struggling to get compensation.
- Deshpande said only companies with captive mines can set up steel plants. Since the company has no mines, it has withdrawn the project, he said.
Amendment Bill for NEET tabled
- The government on 22nd March tabled an amendment Bill in the Assembly to enable holding the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for admissions to medical and dental courses from the coming academic year.
- Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy, who piloted the Bill, told that the Bill — the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fee) (Amendment) Bill, 2017 — has proposed to incorporate guidelines framed under NEET.
- This, in other words, means that Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) will not conduct a Common Entrance Test (CET) for admissions to medical and dental courses.
- The Bill also empowers the government to conduct centralised counselling based on NEET guidelines and includes private universities in the definition of “professional educational institutions”.
- Rayareddy said the Centre is planning to introduce NEET for admissions to engineering courses also. But nothing has been finalised yet. If NEET is not held for engineering, the government will conduct CET he added.
30% reservation likely for State students in medical, dental seat
- All educational institutions might now have to reserve 30% seats for Karnataka students. This will be in addition to government quota seats that are already being given by unaided and minority institutions.
- This has been mandated under the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fee) Amendment Bill, 2017, tabled in the Assembly on 22nd March.
- Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil told that all institutions — minority, deemed and unaided institutions — would be mandated to follow the reservation.
- Besides that the Bill states that if the Union government or its agency conducts CET, the ranking of the candidates shall be obtained from such a mechanism.
- It helps in the filling up of seats, through the CET Committee or Union government and its agencies, in deemed universities also.
- The Bill has been introduced in the light of introduction of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical and dental courses across the country.
- The Bill also provides a provision that if private educational institutions agrees to a consensual agreement with the government, then the conduct of CET shall be in accordance with such an agreement.