State issues

Vacuum in State to fight corruption: HC

  • Criticising the State government for not making any system to receive complaints of corruption in districts with the creation of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Karnataka High Court cautioned that it will have to direct the offices of the Lokayukta police in districts to receive complaints, if no arrangement is made by Thursday.
  • Justice A.N. Venugopal Gowda issued oral direction to the State government during the hearing of a petition through which the court has been monitoring the progress made in the investigation of corruption cases booked by the Lokayukta police, and prosecution and trial of corruption cases in which charge sheets were filed

Producer moves High Court seeking censorship for TV serials, promotions

  • The producer of the recently released Kannada movie Kiragoorina Gayyaligalu on Monday moved the High Court of Karnataka seeking guidelines and standard method of certification for television serials, advertisement commercials and promotions on the lines of the certification for movies under the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
  • The judje has ordered issue of notice to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Regional Director, Censor Board, Bengaluru.
  • It was pointed out in the petition that the Censor Board, which had granted permission for the trailer of Kiragoorina Gayyaligalu without any cuts for its advertisement and promotion, had ordered some cuts when it granted final certification.
  • However, such an “arbitrary” step of ordering cuts in some sense and dialogues had affected the image of the movie as viewers are now complaining that what was shown in the promos and advertisement was missing in the final motive.
  • The words, which were cut on the Board’s direction, were part of the novel “Kiragoorina Gayyaligalu,” written by Poornachandra Tejaswi, son of Jnanpith awardee Kuvempu, the petitioner said while pointing out that this novel has been prescribed as a textbook in Karnataka.
  • It contended that the action of the Censor Board was not as per the guidelines and principles of the Cinematograph Act, which stipulates that the artistic expression and creative freedom are not unduly curbed, besides depriving the right of the public to watch the movie based on the trailer/advertisement.
  • It was complained in the petition that there are no processes of censor before serials, and advertisements or commercials — contents of which were some times worse than movies, and were telecast on various channels without any quality check or censorship.
  • The petitioner has sought a direction from the court for displaying the movie without cuts.

Rajkumar’s biography wins Swarna Kamal

  • Film critic and writer Doddahulluru Rukkoji has won the Swarna Kamal at the 63rd national awards forDr. Rajkumar Samagra Charitre , his 2,148-page two-volume work on Kannada filmdom’s iconic superstar Rajkumar.
  • His work created a record of sorts because of its size, content, quality of publishing, and the lengths to which the author went for the work.
  • The first volume chronicles Rajkumar’s early life and family details. The second volume delves into the more than 200 films in which Rajkumar acted.
  • Mr. Rukkoji described the award as “another award for Dadasaheb Phalke award recipient Rajkumar at the national level. It is a posthumous award to a great art soul”.

‘Thithi’ wins Best Regional Film Award

  • Thithi , director Raam Reddy’s Kannada film, was the lone star from Karnataka at the 63rd national film awards winning the Best Regional Award. Thithi holds the distinction of winning an award at every international competition it has entered. It is in fact Mr. Reddy’s debut film.
  • Last August, Thithi won an honour that had eluded Kannada films for 43 years by clinching two awards at the Locarno International Film Festival.
  • The Best Popular Film went to ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’; Best Hindi Film to ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ and Best Malayalam Film to ‘Pathemaari’.

King Cobra run over by a vehicle in Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve.

  • A King Cobra has been run over by a vehicle on Castle Rock Main Road passing through the Castle Rock Wildlife Range of Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve.

Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve

  • is the fourth tiger reserve of Karnataka state. Is located in Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka State.
  • Covering the taluks of Haliyal, Karwar and Joida, the Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR) is part of the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka.
  • It is notable that Anshi National Park and Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary were together granted the status of Project Tiger tiger reserve, being declared as ‘Anshi Dandeli Tiger Reserve’ in January, 2007.
  • It is spread over 1365 Sq.Km which includes Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and Anshi National Park and has satisfactory remarks about tiger density.
  • It is also a home for endangered Hornbill species and rare black panthers.
  •  The 340 km2 (130 sq mi) Anshi park adjoins theDandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, and together with six adjacent protected areas in the states of Goa and Maharashtra, forms an almost uninterrupted protected forest area of over 2,200 km2 (850 sq mi).
  • In December 2015, Dandeli Anshi Tiger reserve was renamed to Kali Tiger Reserve. River Kali is the lifeline of the people of Uttara Kannada district and integrates Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary (DWS) spread across 400 sq km and Anshi National Park (ANP) spread across 500 sq km.
  • The river cuts across the whole park and the renaming has given the area a single identity.

Issue in the reserve currently

  • In the recent years, a leopard, a chital, a wild pig, a brown palm civet, a leopard cat, a small Indian civet, a langur, a bonnet macaque, among other animals, have been killed in road accidents in the region.
  • The Dandeli-Anshi reserve with a satisfactory number of tigers, had 14 major access roads passing through it.
  • Of them, the Aurad-Sadashivgad State Highway 34 and National Highway 4A in the Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve had become a death trap for wild animals.
  • With the Belagavi-Panaji National Highway 4A being widened, the threat levels stood escalated and further quantified the need for mitigation measures to save wildlife

Needs to be done

  • This incident throws light on the threats to wildlife crossing highways passing through the thick forest reserves
  • Need to laysstress on the need for speed checks, restrictions on vehicle movement during night within protected areas and realignment of roads wherever possible.
  • The increasing number of road-kills in territorial forest divisions has underscored the urgent need for demarcating wildlife-rich areas and transferring the vulnerable animals to wildlife divisions for proper protection.

King cobra

  • King Cobra ( Ophiophagus hannah ) is the world’s largest venomous snake, protected under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act. The number of King Cobra had declined in the recent years due to loss of habitat.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

  • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species.
  • Among other reforms, the Act established schedules of protected plant and animal species; hunting or harvesting these species was largely outlawed.
  • It extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir which has its own wildlife act.
  • It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
  1. Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection – offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
  2. Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
  3. Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted.
  4. The plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting.

City does poorly with respect to commuting and transport emissions

  • After aspiring to become the next Shanghai or Singapore, there is a rude reality check for Bengaluru.
  • A study has shown that the city fares worse than Xi’an, China’s 13th largest city, with respect to commuting and transport emissions.

Why 

  • A better mass transit system in the Chinese city results in more people using metros or buses rather than their cars. A little more than one-third of the people in core areas of Xi’an use their cars, whereas in Bengaluru, nearly three-fourths of people living in the business district travel primarily by personal vehicles.
  • And, due to Bengaluru’s poor urban planning, the average commute to work is nearly twice the distance as compared with their counterparts in Xi’an, which is a far more ‘compact’ city rather than a haphazard sprawl.
  • The end result is that citizens here end up polluting more than their counterparts in Xi’an.

How much worse

  • On an average, a commuter in Bengaluru emits nearly 46 per cent more carbon dioxide than a resident of Xi’an per trip,

Who did the study

  • Study by T. V. Ramachandra from the Indian Institute of Science, who co-ordinated with researchers from China.

An all-bamboo anganwadi in the forest

a case study for tribal development and sustainable development
  • Designing an anganwadi centre that merges with its eco-sensitive surroundings calls for imagination. And, that’s exactly what the centre at Periyapatna forest reflects. Built entirely of bamboo, this unique initiative which complies with environment and forest laws, has been constructed by the Mysuru Nirmithi Kendra, with technical assistance from the Centre For Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST), National Institute of Engineering (NIE) in the city.
  • It was an innovative solution from the district administration, and the new anganwadi not only has good infrastructure, but it is both child-friendly and very conducive to learning.
  • Local tribals were involved in the construction, and using locally available bamboo has made it sustainable
  • The centre cost Rs. 8.26 lakh, with a mini amphitheatre, restroom for children, and a mini-counselling hall for tribal women. The Integrated Tribal Development Programme funded the project.
  • It is just like a conventional building. It can withstand heavy rain and lightning. “It took nearly four months to build
  • The district administration is keen to build 11 more such anganwadi centres in Periyapatna and H.D. Kote taluks, and hopes to complete them within the next three months

Very few students take to startups

  • Bangalore may be India’s startup capital, but a majority of students from the city’s engineering colleges rearing to cut their teeth on new technologies and disruptive business models are wary of joining lesser-known startups. This, despite the fact that the city is home to thousands of startups in various stages of growth.
  • Pressure from family and peers, and the volatile job market are also strong factors. If at all they join a startup, it’s usually well-known companies like Flipkart and Snapdeal.

Be ready to shell out more property tax

  • Come April 1, citizens will have to shell out more towards property tax.
  • The cash-strapped Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is expecting property-tax collection of around Rs. 2,600 crore with this move.
  • The proposal to hike the property tax was sent to the State government for approval during the administrator’s period. After the government recently approved the proposal, the BBMP council recorded the same on Saturday.
  • The city is divided into six zones, based on the 2007 guidance value. However, now the zonal classification has also been changed with the BBMP reorganising the city’s six zones based on the 2015 guidance value of the land. This pushes some areas from the lower-end zones to the higher and more developed zones.
  • The civic body has not revised property tax rates since 2001-02 when the Self-Assessment System was introduced, though it brought in unit area value system for calculation of the tax and revised the zonal classification in 2008.
  • Who will pay more: Whitefield, Mahadevapura and Bommanahalli, Hebbal, Outer Ring Road, Kanakapura Road, Bannerghatta Road
  • Unaffected: Zones A and B, comprising neighbourhoods such as M.G. Road, Koramangala, and Jayanagar

Plans afoot to develop Bidar’s ‘karez’

  • The State government will take up comprehensive development of the ‘karez’ or ‘surang bavi’ system, the medieval era underground aqueduct, to transform them into an international tourist attraction.
  • The area above the surang in Naubad will become a no-construction zone and a boulevard will be built over it. Also, interpretation boards will be put up along the way and visitors will be able to descend into the mouth of the duct and walk up some distance.
  • Each stage entails an expenditure of around Rs. 1 crore. The first phase will focus on purifying water that flows under the vents, strengthening the laterite rock structure for safety and security, and clearing of encroachments around the structure. Construction of new buildings and roads will not be allowed over the structure. The existing structures will be asked to follow some guidelines to make sure they don’t damage the heritage structure

Excise duty on gold may push up price of Mysore Silk saris

  • Jewellery traders are not the only ones to be hit by the imposition of Central excise duty on gold in the Union Budget.
  • The Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation (KSIC), the maker of the famed Mysore Silk saris, is also worried over the impact of the one per cent duty imposed on gold jewellery.
  • The Mysore Silk saris sporting rich and traditional motifs are much sought after for not only its light-weight elegance, but also the purity of silk and gold zari (lace).
  • Last year, KSIC sold 74,000 Mysore Silk saris worth Rs. 146 crore. Purity of silk and gold is its USP (unique selling proposition).
  • The gold lace used in Mysore Silk saris is procured from traders in Surat. The gold zari used in saris manufactured at the KSIC factory in Mysuru contains 0.65 per cent pure gold, while the remainder is made of up of silver, silk, and copper.
  • KSIC buys more than 100 kg of gold zari every year. Though the revised rate of zari has not been fixed post imposition of excise duty, its estimated that the cost of zari used by KSIC to go up by Rs. 35 lakh at the last year’s price.

DRDO to open 5,000-acre range in Chitradurga by mid-year

  • The ATR, costing a total of Rs. 2,500 crore, is being developed at Challakere taluk of Chitradurga, about 200 km A part of the 5,000-acre DRDO Aeronautical Test Range at Chitradurga is now ready to be inaugurated around June.
  • It will begin activities for a few flight projects in about six months and expand the range in stages
  • With this, the DRDO can start testing some of the indigenous products being developed, including the naval and trainer versions of the Light Combat Aircraft, the unmanned air vehicles Rustom 1 and 2; and the Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems meant for surveillance.
  • Apart from the DRDO, the Chitradurga multi-agency mega complex will house facilities of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation and the Indian Institute of Science.
  • Its aeronautical segment alone would need critical, high-value test facilities worth Rs. 10,000 crore over the next 10 years for various indigenous plans. They include an aerodynamic test facility, an engine test facility and test ranges for aircraft and helicopters that were under development. A 26-acre engine test facility costing Rs. 1,500 crore was planned at Rajanukunte near Bengaluru.

NCMEI, govt. differ over quota criteria for minority status in institutions

  • Karnataka’s Education Department and the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) do not appear to be on the same page as far as the number of students an institution is required to admit to qualify as a minority institution.
  • In Karnataka, 25 per cent of the seats in primary and secondary institutions need to be filled with students from that particular community to be a minority institution.
  • According to the commission, there is no “quota” in minority education institutions. Citing the examples of the Jain, Sikh and Parsi communities, it would be difficult for them to fulfil that criterion.
  • Supreme Court Constitutional Bench had ruled that the Right to Education (RTE) Act does not apply to minority educational institutions.
  • There is also a “vacuum in the law” concerning linguistic minority institutions.
  • Linguistic minority has not been notified by the Government of India. State governments, including Karnataka, have come up with policies that require these institutions to admit 25 per cent of students from those communities. The challenge at this point is to ensure that genuine minority institutions get exemption from RTE, and not the ones that want to escape it.
  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, in his budget speech , promised to include issuance of minority status under Sakala, which would solve the problem.

Plastic ban, a bold initiative of Karnataka govt.

  • The much-touted ban on plastics has come about in Karnataka with the State government taking the bold initiative of issuing a gazette notification on March 11. This in turn is expected to bring about a whole lot of change in the life of the common people, whether it be in the disposal of garbage or the purchase of essential commodities, including vegetables leave alone saving the environment from degradation.
  • Essentially, all people have to carry bags to the market, unlike the traders providing them with plastic bags to carry their purchase. The situation, however, may be different in the high-end malls where the shops provide paper bags for a price.
  • Karnataka is thus in the forefront in ensuring a total ban on plastics although it took nearly a decade for successive governments to evolve a fool-proof blueprint and beat the pressure exerted by the plastic lobby. That a ban on plastics across the State was on the anvil was well known, but it is the timing which is of significance.
  • As per an estimate, there are over one lakh people involved in the manufacturer of plastic carry bags, flex used in advertising, plastic cups and buntings, and a whole lot of plastic-based products, which are undoubtedly an environmental hazard and major source of pollution. They are all obviously up in arms against the move and some of them have even ventured to move the courts of law.
  • Added to all this are the large number of cottage industries engaged in plastic manufacturing and the total trade has been estimated at over Rs. 1,000 crore. It is another matter that the authorities are unaware of the total business in plastics given the fact that most of them are very small manufacturers and their business is beyond the purview of audit.
  • The government notification makes specific mention that plastic, no matter its thickness, is banned across the State. “No shopkeeper, vendor, wholesale dealer, retailer, trader, hawker or salesman shall use plastic carry bags, plastic banners, plastic buntings, flex, plastic flags, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, cling film and plastic sheets for spreading on dinning table, irrespective of thickness including the above items made of thermacol and plastic, which use plastic micro beeds”. The only exemption granted is for the export units, apart from the plastic used for milk and milk products and plant nurseries.
  • It should be noted that a sizeable part of the garbage generated in Bengaluru is that of used plastic, particularly the carry bags, and the blame squarely rests on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike which has removed all wayside garbage bins. People are compelled to dump garbage in plastic bags on the roadside since in most residential areas the municipal sweepers refuse to pick up garbage. This has been identified as one of the major reasons for the roads of Bengaluru being littered with garbage.
  • The plastic ban in Karnataka is a step forward in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiative, and it calls for a people’s movement to ensure a plastic-free environment. The State government has empowered a range of officials — that of the municipalities and several other departments — to enforce the ban, and it is imperative on them to exhibit their commitment.

Mobile malaria detection unit

  • A mobile malaria detection unit of the State government providing free services at the doorsteps of people was launched on a pilot basis at  Mangaluru
  • People can get tested and treated at this vehicle launched by the Department of Health and Family Welfare.
  • People can also call 9448556872 and give the address and health workers will arrive at the residence within 30 minutes.
  • They will test the blood on a rapid testing kit and if it showed positive for malaria, the patient will be given the entire course of medicines.
  • If the kit shows a negative result, the health workers will collect the blood smears and get it tested at centres in the Government Wenlock Hospital or the Malaria Testing Centre at the Mangaluru City Corporation.
  • If this test showed positive, the team will visit the house of the patient and give medicines. Patient need not pay any fee either for testing or treatment.
  • It was the first such mobile unit for preventing malaria in the State. It was launched in Mangaluru as it had highest number of cases.

Ibrahim’s name on invite for temple festival challenged

  • A devotee of Puttur Mahalingeshwara temple moved the High Court of Karnataka complaining that the action of the district authorities in printing the name of Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim on the invitation card for the temple’s annual festival was in violation of the law.
  • In his petition, Naveen Kulal contended that as per Section 7 of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997, only officers professing Hindu religion could be given charge of Hindu religious institutions.
  • Justice A.S. Bopanna, who heard the petition, directed the State government to produce the notification of appointing the Deputy Commissioner (Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments) under Section 4 of the Act to Dakshina Kannada district.
  • The court issued this instruction to government counsel as it was complained in the petition that Mr. Ibrahim is also discharging duties as Deputy Commissioner (Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments) in violation of Section 7.
  • Interestingly, government counsel produced a circular issued in 2014 that says that when a non-Hindu officer is appointed as Deputy Commissioner of a district, then the Additional Deputy Commissioner, who professes Hindu religion, should be made in charge for discharging duties under the Act.
  • Meanwhile, government counsel told the court that Mr. Ibrahim’s name was printed on the invitation as per protocol.

What Section 7 says

  • Section 7 of the Act: Commissioner, etc., to be Hindus — The Commissioner and every Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner and every other officer or servant, appointed to carry out the purposes of this Act by whomsoever appointed, shall be a person professing Hindu Religion, and shall cease to hold office as such when he ceases to profess that religion.

Not enough water in the Yettinahole

  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s announcement to hasten the Yettinahole water diversion project has come as a rude shock for the residents, who have been agitating against the project.
  • The Chief Minister has promised to set up a coordination committee for the speedy implementation of the project, besides promising to set up a corporation for the project.
  • His announcement to explore more sources of water other than the Yettinahole to quench the thirst of arid regions has been another major shock for people, who fear depletion of the entire Netravathi.
  • Responding to the proposals, M.G. Hegde from Netravathi Samrakshana Sanchaya said that the activists would not stop till the Netravathi Board is established. He also said that the decision to look for other water sources indicate that enough water is not available in the Yettinahole.

RTPS unit 1 shut down

  • With the Krishna and the Basavasagar reservoir built on it at Narayanpur across Raichur-Yadgir district border almost drying up, Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) is facing one of the worst water crisis in the recent years.
  • Three units (2, 6 and 7) of the power station with an installed capacity of 210 MW each had stopped operations a few days ago due to shortage of water for cooling towers. Another one (unit 4 with an installed capacity of 210 MW) continued to remain shut since February 29 after it was taken up for annual overhaul. Now, unit 1, with an installed capacity of 210 MW, was also shut down on Thursday owing to shortage of water forcing a sharp decline in power generation. At 6 p.m. on Friday, the 1,720-MW power station was generating just 440 MW.
  • According to officials at Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd., this situation is expected to continue till the water level in the Googal Barrage built across the Krishna rises.

HC relief to property owners

  • In a huge relief to property owners, the Karnataka High Court on Friday quashed government circulars prohibiting registration of certain types of land, including revenue sites, and making it mandatory to produce a host of records for registration of properties.
  • A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice B.V. Nagarathna termed the circulars, issued in April 2009 and 2012, as ‘illegal’ while pointing out that the apex court had in 2005 declared that the government has no power to deny registration of documents.

State budget highlights

  • Presenting the 4th budget of the Congress, overall his 11th, in the Legislative Assembly, the CM largely focussed on strengthening and expanding several populist schemes, which were announced three years ago after the Congress staged a comeback in May 2013.
  • The budget showed a revenue surplus of Rs. 522.01 crore, which is 43 p.c. lower than the current fiscal (2015-16). Fiscal deficit is expected to be Rs. 25,657 crore, which is 2.12 p.c. of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).
  • The GSDP grew at the rate of 6.2 per cent as against 7.8 p.c. during the previous year, primarily owing to slowdown in agriculture.
  • The contribution of the agricultural sector to GSDP declined from 12 p.c. to 8 p.c.
  • Middle class consumers need to brace themselves for more expensive days as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s budget levies more taxes on petrol, diesel, transport vehicles, soft drinks, liquor, entertainment and cable services to mobilise revenue to fund populist schemes announced in his past budgets.
  • No new populist schemes.
  • Key proposals for the industry- 
  • include reduction of VAT from 14.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent on some products produced by the small and medium industry.
  • Proposals targeted at startups, the IT sector and to boost investor confidence also featured prominently.
  • Key proposals for agriculture
  • The budget brings relief to big farmers, planters of coffee, tea, rubber and other plantation crops as it abolished agricultural income tax.
  • There was not much of a boost for agriculture as there were no major schemes to address the rural distress in the backdrop of a spate of farmer suicides and drought in the State.

Proposals for Mangaluru

  • Proposal to set up an Oceanarium at Pilikula, that too under 75:25 sharing basis between the government and the society managing Pilikula Nisargadhama at a cost of Rs. 15 crore
  • Setting up of an international museum to showcase Konkani Culture in Mangaluru.

Proposals for Kalaburgi

National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ)

  • Kalaburagi district has something to cheer about in the State Budget. The announcement on setting up a National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) at Chittapur is expected to go a long way in giving a fillip to the industrialisation of the district.
  • The State government has already identified 12,500 acres of land in Chittapur taluk for the purpose and it is located in the vicinity of the proposed Kalaburagi Airport.
  • Of this, 3,000 acres is government land and the remaining land, which is yet to be acquired, has been classified as unproductive with low soil fertility. While the State should acquire this land and allot it to the industries as per their requirement after developing it, the Union government has extended a five-year tax holiday to the industries.
  • It also has the responsibility to provide rail connectivity, electricity, water and other facilities.
  • The State government has completed the techno-feasibility study of the project and it will now be presented to the Union government for the formal clearance.
  • Another major announcement in the budget is to fill the 12,000 vacant posts in the districts in Hyderabad Karnataka as per the reservation provisions of the Article 371(J) of the Constitution.
  • The information and technology centre will get an incubator and a common instrumentation facility.
  • The Chief Minister has also made an announcement of starting the Kalaburagi Power Plant this year and it is not clear whether it was the proposed thermal power plant at Ferozabad.
  • The Chief Minister has proposed to set up the first-ever exclusive hospital for women and child in Karnataka in Kalaburagi city. A sum of Rs. 50 crore has been sanctioned for upgrading the cancer hospital which now will have medical and surgical oncology departments along with radiation facilities. The Chief Minister has continued the tradition of allocating Rs. 1,000 Crore to the Hyderabad Karnataka Region Development Board this year too.
  • Apart from sanctioning a 10-bed integrated AYUSH hospital at Chincholi, the government has given the green signal for constructing a bridge-cum-barrage at Jattur in Sedam taluk across the Kagina and approved the modernisation of the Bennethora major irrigation project. It has also been announced to set up a Religious Minorities Chair in Gulbarga University and complete the remaining works for the Kalaburagi Airport to start its operations this year.

Budget proposals for  Vijayapura

  • An IT park incubator and a mini-planetarium have been proposed for Vijayapura. An important announcement with regard to promoting tourism was the proposal to revive the water supply system of the Adil Shahi era. Tank filling projects will be taken up in Sanka and Bhuyyar in Indi taluk.
  • A sum of Rs. 3 crore has been granted for developing Devarahipparagi town which is believed to be the birthplace of social reformer Madivala Machideva.
  • However, the demand for a government medical college or a government engineering college was ignored. No special grants have been announced for the women’s university.
  • For Bagalkot, an incubator for bio-technology start ups has been proposed. KEONICS will setup incubators and common instrumentation facilities in Bagalkot. A bridge will be constructed across Kudalasangama-Adavihala villages. The tanks of Pattadakallu, Aihole and Muchakhandi of Bagalkot city will be revived.
  • However, funds have not been allocated for shifting the Aihole village. No additional funds have been granted for the horticulture university which has been seeking more land for expanding research

Prior permission for probe’ clause may be challenged

  • The State government wrested the powers of probing cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, from the Lokayukta police and invested it with the newly formed ACB, which will function directly under the supervision of the State government.
  • No anti-corruption probe can be initiated against a public servant in the State without the permission of the “appointing authority”. This is one of the most contentious clauses of the Government Order (GO) creating the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
  • Effectively, this means that even initiating a probe against a public servant would require the sanction of his or her appointing authority,

Experts speak

  • Experts argue that this could result in “protecting the corrupt” and make it virtually impossible to move forward in the case of politicians who occupy high offices in the State.
  • The clause 5 — in the GO creating the ACB — deals with prior permission, and is just a variant of the infamous ‘single directive’ of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has been repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court. Activists are now likely to challenge the Government Order legally.

A tonne of waste a month collected from tiger reserve

  • Liquor bottles, beer cans and plastic covers — totalling nearly a tonne of waste — are strewn in an area that houses the largest tiger population in Karnataka.
  • According to Forest Department officials at Bandipur, the quantity of waste collected from the national park is anywhere 700 kg and 1,000 kg a month, which includes paper plates, aluminium foil, plastic water bottles, polythene covers, and waste paper.
  • This is particularly bad in the stretch between the Bandipur border near Melukamanahalli in Karnataka and the Tamil Nadu border in Mudumalai.
  • The bulk of the waste is generated by tourists, travelling towards popular hotspots of Ooty and Masinagudi.
  • Thousands of tourists travel on the highway every day through the Bandipur National Park, and many dump waste within the eco-sensitive tiger reserve, which has 120 tigers, according to the recent tiger census.
  • Though the Forest Department recently launched a drive to maintain a garbage-free environment in Bandipur by hiring 10 workers to collect waste by the highway, there is still work to be done.
  • Environmentalists said the Forest Department of Karnataka was not as effective as its Tamil Nadu counterpart in monitoring tourists. At the check-post in Mudumalai, officials check the tourists, seize liquor bottles and issue strict warning against dumping waste in the forests. They even note down vehicle registration numbers. But no such measures have been initiated in Karnataka. The State Forest Department has only installed warning and suggestion boards.

Subsidy claimed by Energy Dept. not transparent: CAG

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its report on Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) submitted in the Legislative Assembly that the subsidy claimed by the Energy Department from the Government of Karnataka was not transparent and distribution losses were not realistic.
  • The CAG also noted that the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (KERC) directive on assessing the irrigation pump set’s consumption based on meter readings in Distribution Transformer Centres of IP Set feeders had not been complied with.
  • The Electricity Supply Companies (Escoms) continued to prefer the subsidy claims from the Government of Karnataka based on the assessment of the predominant feeders with respect to the claims for 2014-15, the report notes.
  • The CAG attributed deficiency in planning and unrealistic estimation of works for delay in implementation of works in Gescom, Hescom and Chescom
  • The report also blamed delay in finalisation of tenders for implementation of Nirantara Jyothi Scheme. Escoms were able to provide about 20 hours of three-phase power supply to NJY feeders. But the quality of power supply had not improved with the interruptions continuing unabated.
  • The CAG observed that the government had not adopted the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy, 2007 and continued to implement the orders issued during 1989-95 for Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) implemented after the policy was notified in Upper Krishna project.
  • The CAG conducted a study of the R&R activities in three villages under Almatti dam, 14 villages under Narayanpur dam, besides Bagalkot town, which were taken up during 2010-15 to assess whether R&R packages for the project displaced people of UKP were planned and implemented in an expeditious manner, so as to enable them to reap the intended benefit.

MCI amendment brings district hospitals under Medical Education Dept.

  • A recent amendment to the ‘Establishment of Medical College Regulations 1999’ by the Medical Council of India (MCI) mandates any organisation starting a new medical college to own a minimum 300-bed hospital. This has repercussions for both the Medical Education and Health departments in the State.
  • Following the February 8 MCI amendment, the State government, which has started three new medical colleges in Koppal, Gadag and Kalaburgi and is seeking permission for three more in Karwar, Kodagu and Chamarajanagar, has now conferred administrative control of the district hospitals in these places (run by the Health Department) to the Medical Education Department. A Government Order to this effect has been issued on February 12.
  • This, sources said, may lead to administrative chaos and also deprive doctors working in taluk hospitals of employment benefits, including promotions.
  • In the past, although the Medical Education Department attached the district hospitals (run by the Health Department) to the 10 old medical colleges, the administrative control of these hospitals rested with the Health Department.
  • In 2006, the hospitals were taken under the wing of the Medical Education Department in the light of administrative problems, and all the posts in the hospitals were absorbed under the Medical Education Department.

Severe water shortage in Belagavi

  • Despite gifted with the Krishna and its tributaries such as the Ghataprabha and the Malaprabha, and their tributaries Dudhaganga, Hiranyakeshi, and Karkandeya, a large number of villages and towns in the northern belts of Belagavi district have been facing drinking water shortage throughout the year. It becomes severe during summer and more intensive if preceded by a drought.
  • The situation is turning from bad to worse this summer, thanks to continuing dry spells and preceding drought conditions.
  • Drinking water sources have dried up in at least 34 villages and they are depending on water tankers arranged by the district administration.
  • According to official sources, about 1.13 lakh people had been affected by the shortage of drinking water in 24 villages and localities in Chikkodi taluk, six in Raibag, two in Hukkeri and three in Gokak taluk.

Measures taken

  • The taluk administrations have engaged 55 tankers, which were making 120 trips to supply to the affected families. In Chikkodi taluk, where a population of around 60,000 had been affected, 28 tankers had been engaged.
  • The government is spending Rs. 646 on a 10,000-litre capacity tanker and Rs. 338 on a 5,000-litre capacity tanker for one trip within a distance of 20 km.
  • Water-levels in the Krishna, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha and other tributaries and nalas had been depleted at many points. With no rainfall and increasing evaporation losses, water-levels in Navilteerth and Rajalakhamgouda (Hidkal) dams across the Malaprabha and the Ghataprabha are also depleting, forcing the authorities to use the available water efficiently to ensure that at least drinking water could be provided till the end of summer.
  • Tahsildars are visiting at least 15 to 20 villages a day and take stock of the situation and take steps to address the issue.Water tankers were fitted with GPS systems.
  • Government was willing to provide dry fodder at half the price

CFTRI’s box of goodies may be answer to malnourished children

  • The Department of Women and Child Development had recently found that the district has about 329 severely malnourished children and over 100 of them were in about 13 anganwadi centres in Nanjangud taluk.
  • A proven remedy for malnutrition in preschool children (below the age of six) in State-run anganwadi centres in Karnataka could soon be in hand.
  • In a first-ever intervention to address malnutrition among children, the CFTRI, Mysuru, on the State’s request, began distributing nutritious food to these centres over a month ago. This programme was for about 100 undernourished children and an equal number of healthy children.
  • Rice mix, high protein rusk, energy food, nutri chikki with Spirulina, nutri sprinkle, sesame paste, and fortified mango bar containing macro and micro-nutrients were given to the children.
  • The change in children, especially gain in weight, will be examined for six months. If the foods aid in fighting malnutrition, the remaining malnourished children in anganwadi centres across the district will get these foods. Importantly, the same model can be replicated in other districts
  • The anganwadi workers and parents have also been educated about the project.

Great Indian Bustard (GIB) in Sirguppa taluk

  • The banks of the Tungabhadra in Karnataka’s Sirguppa taluk have provided a ray of hope for the revival of the critically endangered ).
  • On Sunday, a group of nature enthusiasts and avid birdwatchers sighted three GIBs — two adults and a chick — in interior Sirguppa taluk. The presence of the chick is evidence that the vast grasslands there are a breeding ground for the species that is on the verge of extinction.
  • They were among the first to spot the species here in 2006. In the years preceding that, it was assumed that the GIB had been wiped out from Karnataka. Since then, more birds have been sighted, and recently, an egg was also found.
  • The semi-arid and arid grasslands in the interiors of Sirguppa taluk could potentially be a perfect habitat for the Bustard. However, the expanse of irrigation networks has seen the habitat shrinking through the years.

Steps to be taken for conservation

  • Need to ascertain whether the GIBs spotted were residents or migratory
  • Steps to protect the birds from poachers by appointing locals as ‘watchers’,
  • Strengthening the information network.
  • Identify government and private lands that could serve as a habitat for the species
  • The sighting of the GIB has spurred the Forest Department into action, with additional anti-poaching units and personnel being deployed in the region. Forest officials in Ballari have already been told to cordon off the area and ensure the birds are not disturbed.

Challenges

  • Unlike other forest areas, the vast grasslands of Sirguppa taluk are not in the control of the Forest Department and are owned by private individuals.
  • While environmental activists have been up in arms over the allocation of 9,723 acres of grasslands in Challakere, Chitradurga, for a ‘science city’, the Forest Department hopes to enforce a plan to conserve the GIB through this.
  • At least six major government agencies and industries, including the DRDO, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) and ISRO, have been allotted and for industrial, research purposes. The allocation ran into trouble in the courts and was granted only after numerous conditions were enforced, including creation of a GIB conservation plan..

Bengaluru to crack down on bike taxis

  • Bike riders with huge delivery bags on their backs or riding two-wheelers with large boxes fitted on the chassis are a familiar sight in the city. With a steady income to be made by working as a bike delivery man, many have signed up for the job and use their own vehicles for their work.
  • However, according to Transport Department officials, this may not be entirely legal. The use of private registered two-wheelers for commercial purposes has now come under the scanner of the RTO.
  • The department clarified its stand on bike taxis, saying they were being operated illegally. In the coming days, a serious crackdown is expected on bike taxis found operating in the city. Bikes being used for delivery of goods are also expected to be stopped.
  • Currently, officials say that there is no particular class of registration for two-wheelers used for commercial purposes like delivery of goods.
  • Bike ambulances, operational in Karnataka, are allowed to function as they are government owned vehicles being used for public service. The exemption is allowed by means of a government notification for the same. There are 18 bike ambulances that are operating in the city.
  • Earlier this week, Ola and Uber announced the launch of bike taxi services which prompted the Transport Department to issue a statement that such services were illegal.
  • The move also led to the RTO cracking down on ride share models being operated by aggregators. In the past week, officials have seized bike taxis and a few ride share cars being operated by aggregators for violation of permit conditions

Sand cannot be extracted from CRZ areas without clearance

  • Shortage of sand in the three coastal districts will last long as the State government is awaiting clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest for sand extraction from rivers within the Coastal Regulatory Zone.
  • Tenders for extraction of sand in the non-CRZ areas are yet to be finalised.
  • Environment clearance for extraction of sand from the river beds in the CRZ area expired on January 16. The department has sought fresh clearance from the Ministry.
  • According to department statistics, 19 sand bars have been identified in the CRZ area in Dakshina Kannada from which 20.4 lakh tonnes of sand can be extracted. Only traditional form of extraction of sand is allowed in the CRZ area.
  • With regard to extraction of sand in the non-CRZ area, the Public Works Department has identified 38 blocks of which 23 were auctioned in Dakshina Kannada. Of the 11 bidders who took part in the auctioning process, only five were found eligible to transport the sand extracted under the supervision of the Public Works Department.
  • The department was considering simplifying tender conditions to allow more persons to take part in the auctioning process
  • Sand was in short supply not just in Dakshina Kannada but also in other parts of the State.
  • Of the 549 sand blocks that have been identified, only 200 blocks have been auctioned so far.
  • As an alternative the department was promoting M-sand (manufactured sand). From the 86 M-sand units that are operational, nearly 10,000 lakh tonnes of sand are available.
  • The requirement of sand in the State was about 28,000 lakh tonnes per year.

Herbal anti-diabetes pill to be launched soon

  • Anti-diabetes herbal drug, ‘BGR-34’, developed at two institutes under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), may be launched in Karnataka in the next two months and in other south Indian states thereafter.
  • Starting October last year, the drug has been launched in several states in North India but not in South India
  • It was jointly developed by the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and the Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) and has been licensed to a private company.
  • The drug took six years to develop and is a combination of six medicinal plants — daruharidra (berberis aristata), heart-leaved moonseed/amruthaballi (tinospora cordifolia), madhunashini/gurmari (gymnema sylvestre), malabar kino/vijayasar (pterocarpus marsupium), fenugreek/methi (trigonella foenum-graecum) and the Indian madder/manjistha (rubia cordifolia).
  • It is priced at Rs five per tablet and is to be used as a supplement to ongoing treatment to diabetes.

Ayurvedic arthritis drug in the offing

The Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants is developing an ayurvedic drug to treat arthritis. Called the IVT-15, it will be named ‘Rheumartho’.

State govt rejects Centre’s power offer

  • The State government has refused the offer made by the Centre to supply power to Karnataka to tide over shortage this summer saying it was “way too expensive.”
  • Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal assured a delegation of Union ministers from Karnataka to supply of 317 MegaWatt (MW) power to the State on a daily basis till March-end.
  • The cost of the power supplied by the Centre was Rs 5.75 per unit.
  • Following an unexpected breakdown of the State’s major hydel power supplier Sharavathy Generation Station (SGS) and raising mercury levels, the demand-supply gap for power in Karnataka increased from 2,500 MW to 3,775 MW per day.
  • SGS alone accounted for daily power generation of 1,275 MW.
  • Total estimated power requirement of the State is 10,000 MW per day.

Synchronisation of plants

  • Meanwhile, the government is also hopeful of adding another 800 MW from Yeramarus Thermal Plant coming up at Raichur. The Energy department is hopeful of successful synchronisation of the first unit of the State’s first supercritical thermal plant at Yeramarus before the end of this summer.
  • The 2X800 MW project is a joint venture of the State and India’s public sector major Bharath Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL). Synchronisation of the first unit which was planned last month delayed again due to technical snags.
  • Meanwhile, first unit of the 2400 (3X800) MW super thermal power plant at Kudgi in Vijayapura district is likely to be synchronised with the grid on March 18. Like all thermal plants, it will be oil synchronisation followed by coal. The power is likely to flow from June or July
  • As per the agreement, Karnataka is set to get 50 per cent of the total power generated from the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant at Kudgi.

Dandeli to get sports centre for Siddi tribals

  • The Sports Authority of India (SAI) will establish a Special Area Games (SAG) at Dandeli in Uttara Kannada district for the local Siddi tribals.
  • the move was aimed at improving the existing sports training facilities in Dandeli.
  • There is an existing indoor stadium in Dandeli, which is spread across four acres, with a 200-metre running track, shuttle room, lawn tennis court, basket ball court, gymnasium, swimming pool and volley ball court.
  • The biggest challenge is to retain students, for which hostels are needed, besides improved infrastructure.
  • There are around 30,000 Siddi tribals residing in Yellapur, Sirsi, Mundugod, Ankola and Haliyal.
  • They are physically very fit. They have the capability to run long distances and the Siddi children are very enthusiastic to be involved in sports

Siddis of Karnataka

  • The Siddis of Karnataka (Kannada: ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಸಿದ್ಧಿಗಳು) are descended from Bantu peoples from Southeast Africa that were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by Portuguese merchants
  • There is a 50,000 strong Siddhi population across India, of which more than a third live in Karnataka.
  • In Karnataka, they are concentrated around Yellapur, Haliyal, Ankola, Joida, Mundgod and Sirsi taluks of Uttara Kannada and in Khanapur of Belgaum and Kalghatgi of Dharwad district.

Hold Kambala as per govt order: HC

  • The High Court held that Kambala could be held subject to conditions mentioned in the notification issued by the State government on December 17, 2015.
  • People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India had moved the Court seeking to quash the notification dated December 17, 2015 issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.
  • It had contended that the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) recorded 65 complaints of non-cognisable offence during three Kambala events held between December 2014 and January 2015

Kambala

  • Kambala (Tulu: ಕಂಬಳ) is an annual Buffalo Race (he-buffalo) held traditionally under the auspices local land lords and households (Aramane, Beedu, Guthu/Mane, Dodmane) or Patel of village, in coastal Karnataka, India
  • The Kambala season generally starts in November and lasts until March.
  • Kambala is traditionally a simple sport which provides much needed entertainment to the rural people.
  • The ‘track’ used for Kambala is a paddy field filled with slush and mud
  • The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair raced in wet rice fields, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer
  • However, Kambala today has become an organised rural sport, with elobarate planning and timetable for Kambala at different places

280 hospitals in State to provide free treatment to accident victims

  • The State government is all set to launch the Mukhyamantri Santwana Yojana, that will provide free relief to accident victims
  • The State government will provide Rs 25,000 relief to the accident victims for the first 48 hours under the scheme.
  • Even if an outsider meets with an accident in the State, he will also be eligible to avail the benefits under this scheme
  • A total of 280 hospitals across the State have been identified to offer the scheme.
  • Apart from taluk-level hospitals, district-level hospitals and medical college hospitals, 80 private hospitals have been empanelled under the scheme.

A portable device to detect explosives

  • A portable device, which will soon replace sniffer dogs to detect explosives, is in the works at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IITB) and will be available to security agencies by the next a year.
  • The handheld device is fitted with sensors, which will work exactly on the principle of the human nose, within an electronic device.
  • There are multiple sensors which will sense various molecules like those in explosive devices such as RDX and TNT. It will then be programmed to read a pattern and this will be stored in the device
  • While the existing devices cost anywhere around Rs 15 lakh, this one will be priced as low as Rs 5,000
  • The device is being developed under the guidance of the principal scientific advisor and a monitoring committee comprising organisations such as the Central Industrial Security Force, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the National Security Agency and the Intelligence Bureau.

BESCOM formulates a summer plan

  • With power consumption in the State already increasing as the days get hotter, power sector officials are a worried lot.
  • In order to encourage consumers to save as much power as possible, a summer action plan is being formulated by the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom).
  • In the past week, the peak load for all of Karnataka was around 9,000 Megawatts (MW) at 11 a.m. This is expected to cross 10,000 MW in the coming months. While there is adequate supply, according to the government, balancing the available power and ensuring minimal disruption will be the challenge
  • Demand for power is higher during the mornings and evenings with consumption tapering down post 11 a.m. Keeping this in mind, Bescom is working on an action plan to deal with the peak load and ensure that consumption is balanced so that no particular area has to suffer load shedding.
  • Irrigation pump sets and their consumption patterns are being looked at. The idea is to shift them from the morning peak hours to other hours when we can supply good quality power. This will help bring down the peak demand
  • Also, the utility is also looking at starting a massive campaign to educate urban customers about the importance of conserving energy during peak hours.
  • During the peak summer season in urban areas, the maximum consumption for Bescom is between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. when people are getting ready to head to work.
  • In the past, studies have shown that each consumer can reduce consumption by 10 per cent by switching off fans and lights when not in use.
  • Earlier, methods like street plays and advertisements had been employed to educate people about power conservation.

Uber, Ola launch bike taxis in Bengaluru

  • App-based taxi aggregators Uber and Ola have launched their bike taxi service in Bengaluru on a pilot mode with fares cheaper than those of autorickshaws. With the new venture, they plan to tap the commuter segment that does not normally use cabs.
  • The service by U.S.-based Uber – uberMOTO – in Bengaluru, is the second in the world, after Bangkok.
  • Of late, bike taxi service start-ups are getting momentum in India and have already seen some players like M-Taxi, Baxi, Hey Taxi, Rapido, Heybob among others. They have operations in Guragaon, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
  • The new initiative from the app-based providers comes at a time when they are facing regulatory heat from the regional transport authority in the State.
  • At present there is no law regulating two-wheeler taxi services in Karnataka.

Karnataka to say goodbye to plastic

  • Taking a strong stand on the adverse effect of plastic on our health and environment, the State government has banned the use of non-essential plastics. The State Cabinet approved a final draft notification on the ban and it will come into effect from the day of publication of a gazette notification slated to be issued next week.
  • The decision was taken after studying objections from various stakeholders. This would lead to replacement of all non-essential plastics with eco-friendly material across Karnataka.

Details

  • The decision is to ban the manufacture, storage, sale, distribution, and use of plastic carry bags, irrespective of their thickness, according to sources in the State Secretariat.
  • The decision goes beyond the 2011 notification that banned plastic below 40 microns and aims at banning products for which eco-friendly alternatives are available.
  • The approved notification is far more extensive than the draft notification that was put up for objections in October.
  • Additions include thermocol, micro-beads and even plastic cutlery — which were suggestions given by activists and citizens, said officials who drafted the law.
  • With enforcement of the ban involving multiple departments workshop would be conducted for all stakeholders to create awareness on the ban.
  • The ban is expected to reduce non-degradable plastic content in municipal waste by over a third. This will spur the use of eco-friendly materials, and reduce the amount of plastics in garbage dumps
  • Himachal Pradesh has banned the sale of fast food in non-biodegradable packets from April 1, 2013.

New schemes to ensure effective transfer of technology from laboratory to land

  • Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has introduced new schemes to bridge the gap between agriculture scientists and farmers and to ensure effective transfer of technologies from laboratory to land.
  • “Student READY (Rural Entrepreneurship and Awareness Development Yojana)”- It is a one-year composite programme consisting of three components — experimental learning, rural awareness work experience and in-plant training — to be taken up during the last year of the undergraduate programme.
  • ARYA (Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture)- to help retain rural youth in agriculture through capacity building.
  • Farmer FIRST (Farmer, Innovation, Resources, Science and Technology)- This will help enhance farmer-scientist contact with multi-stake holders.
  • “Mera Goan Mera Gaurav”- About 20,000 scientists, in groups of four, from agricultural universities and ICAR institutes will identify villages for providing technical information advisories and demonstration of agricultural technologies and practices in the fields. Each such group will adopt five villages for transfer of technologies directly from laboratory to land.

Gujjarkere restoration: PMO asks State to take action and report

  • With the sorry state of affairs of refurbishment of Gujjarkere in South Mangaluru reaching the Prime Minister’s Office, one would have to see whether the administration concerned makes sincere attempts to restore the historical lake.
  • Having made innumerable representations and attempts to get the administration moving to restore the lake which has turned out to be a sewage pool, the Gujjarkere Teertha Samrakshana Vedike finally chose to write to the Prime Minister.
  • Since about six years, the Mangaluru City Corporation and the Minor Irrigation Department of the State government have spent about Rs. 4 crore for restoring the lake. However, they have failed to plug seepage of sewage into the lake because of which the water body has turned out to be a breeding ground of mosquitoes.
  • The restoration work has come to a standstill for the last 10 months. The authorities have spent lakhs of rupees of the common man on removing silt and de-weeding the lake.
  • It is high time that the silt was removed from the following lakes: Gujjarkere, Arekere, Yemmekere, Tavarekere, Onikere, Moilikere, Kavoorkere, Byradikere, Kadekarkere, Ombattukere of Ullal, and similar water bodies. Instead of solely depending on the Netravathi for water requirements, citizens can utilise water from these lakes if the water bodies are restored
  • Following his letter, the PMO recently wrote to the Chief Secretary of the State enclosing a copy of Mr. Kottary’s grievance. The PMO has asked the State government to take appropriate action and send a reply to it through its portal.

New frog species found in Biligiri

  • A small hill station in the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRTTR) now lends its name to a new species of bush frog that was discovered there by scientists recently.
  • The Honnametti bush frog (scientific name:Raorchestes honnametti ) was discovered by a team from Gubbi Labs and ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment) when they were called to the tiger reserve to look for the rare Sholiga narrow-mouthed frog.
  • The species discovered is a cryptic bush frog — that is, it resembles another species of Seshachar’s bush frog ( Raorchestes charius ). The discovery would make it the first such cryptic species to be found in the Western Ghats, one that can lead us to understanding the evolutionary history of such species.
  • DNA analysis and the call pattern of the bush frog eventually led to the clinching proof that it was indeed a hitherto unknown species.
  • The species was named after Honnametti, the hill station in the tiger reserve where a British couple set up their estate in 1923.

City to get disaster response force

  • The State has proposed to station a team of the State Disaster Response Force in Mangaluru and 29 other districts
  •  52 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force were stationed in Bengaluru. The number of SDRF personnel will be increased in phases. These personnel were working with local personnel in management of disasters in the State.
  • Earlier, the NDRF personnel were involved with 700 personnel from 32 departments in the mock drill of disaster management at the Hindustan Petroleum’s LPG unit at Bala on the outskirts of Mangaluru.
  • As many as 3,000 personnel were indirectly involved in the operation.
  • The drill started with the “alert of leakage of gas in HPCL’s unit” around 9 a.m.

Sericulture farmers in state disappointed as import duty on raw silk remains untouched

  • Sericulture farmers in Karnataka, India’s leading raw silk producing State, are disappointed over the Union Budget’s failure to increase the customs duty on import of raw silk.
  • The customs duty on imported silk, which used to be around 30 per cent a couple of years ago to ensure that the price of indigenously produced silk remained competitive in the market, had been brought down to 10 per cent, affecting a large number of sericulture farmers.
  • At reduced import duty, the superior quality Chinese silk is available at a low rates, which pushes indigenously produced silk’s price further down.
  • Soon after the Narendra Modi government came to power, the import duty was brought down to 5 per cent, but it was increased to 15 per cent subsequently, only to be brought down to 10 per cent.
  • Not only is the cost of producing silk in China less, even the quality is superior. While Chinese raw silk, having a longer unbroken filament than Indian silk, is available at Rs. 3,000 a kg, indigenously produced silk varies from Rs. 2,100 to Rs. 2,400 a kg. At current prices, the decrease in import duty from 30 per cent to 10 per cent has made Chinese silk cheaper by Rs. 600
  • However, a large number of weavers and power looms in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat are dependent on Chinese silk for manufacture of silk products including garments.

Rural poor to get MNREGA assistance to build homes

  • Homeless rural residents of Karnataka will now get additional funds to build their houses.
  • In a first for the country, the State government has decided to dovetail funds meant for subsidised housing schemes under various departments with the MNREGA scheme that pays the wages of individuals, who work to build their homes.
  • Till now, three different subsidised housing schemes under the housing and rural development departments paid around Rs. 40,000 to each poor beneficiary in three to four instalments. Now, they will get an additional Rs. 20,000 under MNREGA as wages for the person-days they spend on construction of the house. This is estimated to provide Rs. 520 crore to 2.6 lakh beneficiaries of housing schemes in 6,068 gram panchayats.
  • This new concept will help the rural poor as it releases around Rs. 500 crore in the next 100 days
  • A target of at least 50 beneficiaries per gram panchayat. Work orders are to be issued before the last week of March and work should be completed in three months.
  • There is no chance of diversion of funds as every rupee is electronically transferred to the beneficiary’s account every 14 days. Gram panchayat officials can draw money directly from a central account after due certification.

Significance

  • It will boost rural spending and help utilise funds from the central scheme by changing gears
  • Pace of work on housing schemes in some district has been slow. It is expected to pick up as the works will be reviewed repeatedly by senior officials of the Panchayat Raj and Housing Department
  • The pace of work on these schemes is generally lower in the HK region compared to other revenue divisions. Special emphasis will be laid in this region

IT ecosystem in state

  • IT exports from Karnataka are expected to net Rs. 2.2 lakh crore in 2015-16 and direct employment in the sector will be around 10 lakh, as per the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), a trade association of Indian Information Technology estimates
  • Bengaluru is the only Indian city to be ranked among the best 20 startup ecosystems across the world, as per the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report 2015.
  • The IT capital is home to around 4,000 active tech startups and the government has set up a warehouse in Bengaluru in association with NASSCOM

Petition to SC on disadvantaged position of Kannada

  • Arguing that the government could not impose Hindi on the people of Karnataka, a Bengaluru-based social activist told the Supreme Court that public money was being wasted in the State on the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign as people were not able to understand what the campaign’s hoardings and slogans in Hindi meant.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur heard a petition by H. Satish Halappa against forcing Hindi or English on the poor of the State.
  • Mr. Halappa said such compulsion was discriminatory and a violation of the people’s rights to use their own language. This, especially when Karnataka had declared Kannada as its official language under the Karnataka Official Language Act, way back in 1963.
  • It was argued that students were left disadvantaged as they were forced to take competitive exams in Hindi or English and not in their mother tongue. Even the Railways used Hindi or English for the tickets issued within the State in violation of Article 345 of the Constitution.
  • “The Kannada language is losing its primacy in the State due to the dominant use of languages like Hindi in a State where Kannada is spoken and understood by the majority”, the petition contended.

Official Language

  • Part XVII of the Constitution deals with the official language in Articles 343 to 351
  • Under Article 343 Hindi written in Devanagari script is to be the Official language of the Union. The parliament passed the Official Language Act in 1963. The act provides for the continued use of English (even after 1965), in addition to Hindi, for all official purposes of the Union and also for the transaction of business in Parliament
  • Under Article 345 the legislature of a state may adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the state or Hindi as the official language of that state. Until that is done, English is to continue as official language of that state.
  • Under this provision, Karnataka  adopted the Kannada as its official language.
  • The Official Language Act (1963) lays down that English should be used for purposes of communication between the Union and the non-Hindi states (that is, the states that have not adopted Hindi as their official language).