State Issues- December 2016

UGC plans agency to mobilise funds for education

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) will set up Higher Education Finance Corporation for mobilising funds to ensure quality education within the reach of students.
  • UGC chairperson Ved Prakash said that the government and corporate would join hands in setting up the proposed corporation.
  • He said that the universities were not getting sufficient funds and hence were in dire straits. “The higher education system needs financial reforms. So, a multi-pronged approach is required for mobilising funds,” he said. Ved Prakash was in Mysuru to take part in the principals’ meet.
  • He said that the documents submitted by the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) were being verified and the de-recognition of its courses would be revoked soon.
  • The varsity had submitted an action taken report following corrective measures suggested by the UGC.
  • The Commission had raised some queries about the report and the KSOU has submitted a few supporting documents in reply. “If they are found satisfactory, the de-recognition will be revoked,” he said.
  • The UGC de-recognised the courses offered by the KSOU (from the academic year 2012-13) on June 16 this year, citing violation of its guidelines.
  • The de-recognition came after a long process after a show-cause notice was issued to the KSOU on June 10, 2011 and after considering its response, including personal hearing of the officials of the university.
  • The KSOU, bifurcated from the University of Mysore, was established in June 1996 and was considered as a reputed institution among the open learning institutions in the country.

Karnataka: Law to curtail planting of saplings that causes Eco Damage

  • The Karnataka government took the legislation route to curtail planting of saplings that have adverse effect on environment and ground water.
  • The Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed the Karnataka Preservation of Trees (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that provides for regulating the planting and cultivation of saplings which cause ecological damage and erode soil fertility.
  • The bill, piloted by Forest Minister Ramanath Rai, also provides for the government to regulate planting of saplings which support and hosts pests.
  • However, the bill has not named any specific species that are harmful to nature and should be banned from cultivation.
  • The state government, through a circular in 2012, had banned planting of acacia and eucalyptus as these two species caused environmental damage. However, there was no effectively implementation of the circular.

How Eucalyptus Tree causes Eco Damage

  • Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus spp.) are native to Australia, but have adapted to climates all over the world thanks to their shallow root system, and grow in India.
  • These trees have a shallow root system, which developed as a way to survive in a harsh native environment, where accessing a limited amount of rainfall is crucial to survival. It’s this shallow root system that can make eucalyptus trees a danger.
  • About 90 percent of a eucalyptus tree’s roots grow in the top 12 inches of soil. This shallow root system grows rapidly, and along with a strong taproot, the lateral roots are vital to keeping a eucalyptus tree upright.
  • A eucalyptus tree’s taproot must grow down into the soil at least 6 feet to ensure good anchorage. The lateral roots spread out for up to 100 feet to help support the rest of the tree, and this can be an issue for nearby buildings and structures.
  • The roots and rootlets of eucalyptus trees planted in a yard can grow into ditches, clog water pipes, and crack septic tanks and cisterns. The roots of eucalyptus trees planted in an urban environment can damage sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
  • As the shallow eucalyptus roots grow and produce secondary thickening growth, they can heave up paved surfaces above and around them.

To meet shortage in govt hospitals, Specialists will be hired

  • In a bid to tide over acute shortage of specialist doctors in government hospitals, the Health department is taking steps to hire doctors from the private sector on contract or to work on “on call” basis.
  • Health Minister K R Ramesh Kumar said specialists are not keen on working in government hospitals despite being offered salaries to the tune of Rs one lakh per month in addition to house rent allowance of Rs 20,000.
  • Remuneration for doctors who agree to serve ‘on call’ will be on a case-to-case basis.
  • The minister said several specialist doctors from government hospitals are holding administrative posts such as joint directors, deputy directors and programme directors under various health schemes.
  • The Health department will divest them of their administrative responsibilities and depute them to government hospitals.
  • Specialist doctors working in the casualty wings are being replaced with those with MBBS qualification in a bid to use them for specialised services.

Recruitment 

  • The minister said that the Health department will fill all the vacant para-medical and staff nurse posts in government hospitals within a month.
  • He said there is no proposal before the state government for opening new primary health centres.
  • All the hospitals in Bengaluru, including those run by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike will be equipped with infrastructure for blood component separation units to help patients suffering from dengue.

Karnataka: Lower House passes bill to regulate Ayush practitioners

  • To crackdown on the menace of fake AYUSH doctors, registration of Ayurvedic, Naturopathy, Siddha, Unani, and Yoga practitioners has been made mandatory in the State.
  • The Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that makes registration compulsory for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Naturopathy and Siddha (Ayush) practitioners.
  • The Karnataka Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Siddha, Unani and Yoga Practitioners Registration and Medical Practitioners Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to regulate these practitioners. Registered practitioners will be issued an  ID card, which should be compulsorily displayed at their clinics.
  • According to the provisions of the bill, unregistered practitioners will be punished with a fine that may extend to Rs 20,000 for the first offence and Rs 2 lakh fine and imprisonment of one year for the second offence and a fine of Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment for three years for the subsequent offence.
  • The Assembly also passed a bill that proposes to expand the authority of the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to give administrative approval for projects up to Rs 10 crore without bringing it before the Cabinet.
  • Hitherto, the BWSSB had the authority to clear projects up to Rs 1 crore.
  • The House passed a bill, which provides for allowing tapping of neera, the sweet sap from coconut trees. The Karnataka Excise (amendment) Bill, 2016 also provide for promoting byproducts of neera such as palm jaggery and palm sugar to help farmers increase their revenue.
  • The Assembly passed the Karnataka Good Samaritan and Medical Professional (Protection and Regulation during Emergency situations) Bill, 2016 that seeks to provide protection to ‘Good Samaritans’ and medical professionals who help accident victims from civil and criminal liabilities.
  • In the Legislative Council, Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy said  the government is mulling over bringing in Karnataka Universities Comprehensive Act in the next legislature session to ensure uniformity in administration and monitoring of the varsities and colleges in the state.
  • During a discussion on a bill that proposes to change the name of Karnataka State Women’s University after 12th century social reformer Akkamahadevi, the minister said the government intends in bringing a comprehensive legislation for all the state universities. A committee headed by former Vice Chancellor  of Bangalore University N R Shetty has submitted its report in this regard.

What is “Ayush”

  • The Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, abbreviated asAYUSH, is a governmental body in India purposed with developing, education and research in ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine), yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha, and homoeopathy, Sowa-rigpa (Traditional Tibetan medicine), and other Indigenous Medicine systems.
  • The department was created in March 1995 as the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM&H). AYUSH received its current name in March 2003. That time it was operated under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH was formed with effect from 9 November 2014 by elevation of the Department of AYUSH.
  • The Bharatiya Janata Party, in its election manifesto, said it would increase public investment to promote AYUSH and start Integrated Courses for Indian system of Medicines and Modern Medicine.
  • Ayush is also a common Hindu given name, derived from Sanskrit, meaning “life”.

Good behaviour will make govt schoolkids ‘star’struck

  • A star on the lapel can go a long way towards keeping students in school and motivating them to learn. This is what the nonprofit Sikshana Foundation found during its interventions in several schools in Karnataka.
  • Recognising the impact of such ‘student motivation programmes’, the state government has partnered with the NGO to implement a pilot project for three years in Chitradurga and Davangere.
  • The programme will cover 1,519 higher primary schools and 1.18 lakh students in the two districts.
  • It will introduce measures to make the learning process more enjoyable and child-friendly.
  • Every small effort will be rewarded with incentives. “If a student is well-groomed and regular to school, he will be given a green star.
  • If an otherwise shy child asks a question in class, he will be given a white star for academics. Participation in extracurricular activities will be encouraged with a pink star,” said Raj Kumar, director of operations at Sikshana Foundation.
  • According to the 2014 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) for rural Karnataka, only 32.8% students in class 7 could subtract and 29% could divide.
  • To improve learning achievements in mathematics, an important component of the programme is the practice books for the subject. “Each student will be given six of these supplementary books in an academic year.
  • Currently, they are at the class 4 level. From the next academic year onwards, the books will be upgraded to match the competency of classes 5-7,” said an official from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
  • An internal evaluation of schools supported by the nonprofit showed that 71% of their students achieved foundational math skills in 2015-16.
  • The project is being undertaken at a cost of Rs 11 crore under a public-private partnership model in which the government will provide 50% funds and the nonprofit will raise the rest through donations.
  • P C Jaffer, State Project Director, SSA, said, “The government of Karnataka has been working through in-house projects, and with a number of NGOs to improve the quality of learning materials and teaching methods in government schools. Sikshana Foundation has shown that student motivation programmes can be a low-cost but effective input to further improve learning outcomes.”

Republic Day gift: 250 prisoners to be released for good conduct

  • Home Minister G Parameshwara said the state government may release about 250 prisoners for “good conduct’’ on Republic Day on January 26, 2017.
  • “The prison is not just a place to keep criminals. It is also a place to reform inmates. The government has released about 650 inmates based on their good conduct in the last one year. We may order premature release of 250 inmates in January,” he said.
  • Parameshwara was addressing the Prisons department staff after inaugurating the control room to monitor activities in all the eight central prisons across the state through CCTV cameras. The control room has been set up at the Prisons department headquarters in Bengaluru. “Measures suggested by international human rights’ associations are being implemented. One of the measures was to install CCTV cameras in all the prisons to ensure protection of human rights of prisoners,” he said explaining the reforms initiated by the Prisons department
  • The government would soon build new prisons across the state.
  • A state-of-the-art structure has been built at Shivamogga at a cost Rs 100 crore which will be inaugurated shortly. Similar prions will come up on the outskirts of Mangaluru.
  • Due to rapid growth of urban areas, the prisons constructed during the British era are located in thickly populated areas creating problems for local residents.

Curbs on co-op banks hit dairy farmers hard

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision to keep cooperative banks out of the demonetisation scheme has hit dairy farmers hard in the state.
  • Majority of the farmers has not been able to access money earned by them by supplying milk to the cooperative societies.
  • The RBI has in its circular dated November 14, 2016 barred cooperative banks from conducting any transaction under the demonetisation scheme.
  • About 60% of the total 8.5 lakh dairy farmers have their bank accounts in cooperative banks. The RBI imposed this restriction following complaints that money launderers were misusing these banks.
  • “The village-level milk producers’ cooperative societies have deposited money towards the supply of milk to the farmers’ accounts. But, the farmers have not been able to withdraw money due to the RBI regulation.
  • However, those who have accounts in nationalised banks are not facing much problem,” Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) Director (Animal Husbandry) Suresh Babu said.
  • He said that Rs 249.39 crores have been deposited through electronic transfer to these societies ever since the RBI imposed the regulations.
  • This includes payments for supplying milk from the society and Rs 4 incentive per litre of milk from the state government. The state has 14 district-level milk unions covering 30 districts. Money is deposited every week.
  • KMF Managing Director Rakesh Singh said almost all the dairy farmers have bank accounts, and the government has been depositing Rs 4 incentive per litre of milk directly into their bank accounts.
  • Those who have accounts in the cooperative banks are facing problem. The government has brought the issue to the RBI’s notice and we hope it will come out with some solution soon.
  • The Karnataka State Co-operative Apex Bank chairman and MLA K N Rajanna said the RBI’s decision has wrecked havoc in the rural economy.
  • Not only the dairy farmers, almost all members of cooperative banks have been affected due to demonetisation.
  • The RBI is not justified in its decision to keep the cooperative banks out of demonetisation scheme. The Central bank has imposed regulation despite all the cooperative banks in Karnataka functioning as per its guidelines, he added.

Karnataka – State to buy fodder from farmers

  • The state government will buy fodder from farmers to help them in the wake of the drought, Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said on 6th Dec
  • A government order in this regard would be out in a week, the minister said. He was speaking at a programme at Charakunte village in the taluk.
  • The purchased fodder would be sold to farmers in districts where there is a dire need for it.
  • The rainfall received during the North East monsoon would be assessed after December 15, the minister said. Based on the assessment, a proposal for compensation would be sent to the Centre.
  • A meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee would be held to discuss opening of paddy purchase centres.
  • The meeting would decide on procuring paddy at a revised price, based on the support price announced by the Centre. The minister said that business had come down by 35% at APMCs owing to the note ban.
  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remind him of the state’s demand for Rs 4,702-crore drought relief package.

98 Taluks in 26 Districts to be declared drought-hit

  • As many as 98 taluks in 26 districts in the State will be declared drou-ght-hit following the failure of the southwest monsoon.
  • Yadgir, Gadag, Kalaburagi, Raichur and Vijayapura worst-affected
  • The Cabinet decision, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra said several parts of the State had witnessed a dry spell for more than one and a half months.
  • Sixteen districts have received deficit rainfall and farmers have not been able to commence the kharif sowing operation in these places.
  • Ten out of 16 affected districts are in North Karnataka. Yadgir, Gadag, Kalaburagi, Raichur and Vijayapura are the worst-affected districts.
  • Water level in all the 13 important reservoirs, including Krishnarajasagar and Almatti, is low. The government will soon approach the Centre for financial assistance.
  • The Cabinet sub-committee on drought has been directed to assess the situation and submit a detailed report on the effects of drought. Chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee has been directed to monitor the situation and issue appropriate directions to the deputy commissioners of all the districts on mitigating people’s problems in the affected places.
  • The government has already released Rs 200 crore for taking up relief measures. About Rs 75 crore will be spent on supply drinking water through tankers and Rs 75 crore will be spent on energising the drinking water bore wells.

Karnataka: Biggest Ever Promotion Move, 11,000 Police Personnel To Benefit

  • As a New Year gift, the state government has decided to promote 11,000 police personnel.
  • At a review meeting held on Wednesday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said this is the first time such a huge number of police personnel are being promoted.
  • Police constables will be promoted as head constables (HC). Head constables, in turn, will be promoted as assistant sub-inspectors (ASI). ASIs will be promoted as sub-inspectors.
  • CM said “Policemen work hard to maintain law and order and to keep a check on crime. Hence, we will have to reward them appropriately. Measures are also being taken to fill vacancies. We have already recruited 26,702 police constables and other staff and approved various allowances,”
  • In 2014-15, around 1,445 posts were sanctioned for 31 new police stations. In 2015-16, as many as 1,356 posts were filled in 30 new police stations. In 2016-17, another 220 posts were created in five new women police stations, said a senior police officer present at the meeting.
  • During the meeting, it was announced that Hoskote in Bengaluru rural, Ramadurga and Athani in Belagavi and Shorapur in Kalaburagi districts have been made new sub-divisions.
  • A new commissionerate will also be established in Ballari, keeping in mind the rise in law and order problems and criminal activities in connection with the mining mafia.
  • A KSRP training school at Kangrali will be set up and 76 posts will be approved.
  • Around 468 posts have been created in six training schools, 322 in the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), 309 in the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), 45 posts for six new police outposts and 1,557 posts for Bengaluru Traffic police department.

Cops to get weekly off

  • Home Minister G Parameshwara  informed the Legislative Council that the police personnel will be given a day off from work in a week and counselling centres will be opened in all taluks to help them cope with the work pressure.
  • The police personnel were under pressure because of large number of vacancies.
  • The government has now initiated steps to fill up 19,500 of the total 25,000 vacancies, he said replying to Arun Shahpur and Mahantesh Kavatagimath (both BJP).
  • Parameshwara said incidents of suicides by police personnel have been on the rise in the last three years.
  • In 2014, 11 police personnel ended their lives while as many as 21 committed suicide in 2015 and 17 in 2016 (till October). Harassment by higher officers, work pressure and health are some of the reasons for the suicides.
  • He also reiterated that police officer M K Ganapathi committed suicide in July this year due to personal reasons, while another officer Kallappa Handibag ended his life as he was unable to cope with the work pressure.

Cabinet clears 200 MW hydel project at Shivanasamudra

  • The state government which was treading cautiously over the implementation of the run of the river hydel project at Shivanasamudra in Mandya district, has decided to set up the project at an estimated cost of Rs 845 crore.
  • The state Cabinet, which decided to give its approval for the project, also decided to inform the Cauvery Supervisory Committee (CSC) about the same.
  • After the Cabinet meeting, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra told reporters that anticipating inter-state water dispute (between Tamil Nadu and Puducherry), the government wanted to inform the CSC about the same, before going ahead with the project.
  • The government had sought legal opinion from the Advocate General (A-G). “The A-G has given an opinion that the CSC should be informed. The government is not seeking the CSC’s approval. We will just be informing it about the project, and subsequently take up works on the same,” the minister added.
  • Karnataka had proposed the setting up of the 200 MW hydel project at Shivanasamudra, but had faced stiff opposition to it from Tamil Nadu. It also fears that the neighbouring state might move the court.
  • Officials said that the project approval was delayed owing to the legislature session in Belagavi.
  • With the Cabinet approving the project, Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL), the implementing agency, will ready the detailed project report. Once clearances are obtained from the departments concerned, including environmental clearances, the project would be completed within 36 months.

Financial Assistance

  • The Cabinet had approved the extension of a financial package of Rs 396.72 crore to the state-owned Mysore Paper Mills Ltd, Bhadravathi to meet expenses towards Voluntary Retirement Scheme/Voluntary Separation Scheme of 2,200 employees.
  • The sick unit had incurred losses of Rs 600-Rs 700 crores. Given its financial crisis, it had not even been able to privatise the Mills. Hence, the government had decided to extend the financial support.

MML Report

  • The state Cabinet failed to arrive at a decision with regard to taking action as recommended by the then Lokayukta over the alleged irregularities in the state-owned Mysore Minerals Ltd (MML).
  • Law Minister T B Jayachandra said that the matter was debated for over two hours and later deferred. He said that the report will be referred back to the Mines and Geology department for re-examination.
  • A former minister and and seven IAS officers, including Mahendra Jain and Gangaram Baderia, are under scanner.

Other decisions

  1. Approval for starting new medical college (Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Centre on the premises of Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, Bengaluru)
  2. Approval for Karnataka Advocates’ Welfare Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2016. (Welfare fund has been doubled).
  3. Reappointment of medical officers on contract basis, till they attain 65 years.
  4. High Court employees to be paid on a par with state government staff.

Hon degrees for Dalai Lama, Pramoda Devi

  • The University of Mysore will confer honor-ary doctorates on Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama and descendant of the Wadiyar kings, the founders of the university, Pramoda Devi Wadiyar at its 97th convocation to be held on December 13.
  • Vice-chancellor K S Rangappa said The Dalai Lama, who could not make it to the 96th convocation, will also deliver the convocation address at 11 am at the Crawford Hall, the univesity’s administrative complex. Governor Vajubhai R Vala and Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy will be present.
  • The university has obtained special permission to conduct two convocation ceremonies in the same calendar year.

 

ULBs get more powers to hasten infrastructure works

  • The state government has initiated measures to expedite long-pending infrastructure projects in urban local bodies (ULBs).
  • It has now set deadlines to the sanctioning authorities for according necessary approvals, besides enhancing their financial powers.
  • The sanctioning authorities in all city corporations, city municipal councils (CMCs), town municipal councils (TMCs) and town panchayats (TPs) have to approve estimates of the projects and finalise tenders within the stipulated time. Or, their powers will automatically get transferred to the immediate higher authority.
  • As per the documents available the projects worth over Rs 2,000 crore are pending implementation in 207 ULBs, excluding Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), since 2011.
  • These projects such as upgrade of roads and construction of underground drainage have been taken up under Nagarothana, the Chief Minister’s small and medium town development programme and the Finance Commission grants.
  • For instance, only Rs 209 crore have been spent of the total Rs 1,000 crore under Nagarothana–III programme taken up in 2014-15 in 10 city corporations, excluding BBMP.
  • Projects worth Rs 877 crore were announced under the 14 Finance Commission in 2015-16 in CMCs, TMCs and TPs. But the total expenditure so far is only Rs 53 crore. In most cases, delay was mainly because of obtaining administration approvals.
  • As per an eight-page order issued recently by the Urban Development Department (UDD), sanctioning authorities in all the city corporations, excluding BBMP, have to accord approvals for action plans and obtain approval of the elected body within a month’s time.
  • The commissioner is the sanctioning authority in these corporations. Similarly, draft tender document has to be prepared in 10 days and the tender awarded in 20 days.
  • If the commissioner fails to stick to the deadline, then the power to approve the projects will gets transferred to the deputy commissioner (DC) of the respective district.
  • If the DC too fails to clear the projects within a month, then the power will go to Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) at the state level. Likewise, deadlines have been set to all the ULBs.
  • Besides, financial power of all the sanctioning authorities to approve projects has been enhanced, to ensure that majority of these projects get cleared at the local level. Accordingly, the DMA will approve projects worth above Rs 5 crore each and below Rs 10 crore. All projects worth above Rs 10 crore each will be approved by the state Cabinet. Hitherto, approval of the Cabinet was necessary only for project worth over Rs 5 crore.
  • DMA Director R Vishal said the government has decentralised the sanctioning power for implementing infrastructure projects in a big way. “We are confident that implementation of projects will speed up from now onwards.
  • The government has also directed all ULBs not to split projects. The DMA will monitor the implementation regularly,” he added.

‘Sea Hawks’ breaks record in open water swimming

  • A six-member team of relay swimmers from Mumbai touched the Arabian Sea coast in Mangaluru, breaking the Guinness record for open water swimming.
  • The team ‘Sea Hawks’ covered 1,031 km (557 nautical miles) starting from the coast near Gateway of India on November 26, passing through the Goan waters, before ending their lap at Tanneerbhavi beach.
  • With this, the team has broken two previous world records.
  • The first is that of a team of 200 relay swimmers in Ireland, United Kingdom who had entered the Guinness Book of World Records covering 684.75 km in 2009. Prior to that, Night Trains, a team of swimmers from America had a world record for the longest six-member open water swim of 505 km.
  • Shekhar Kale, an expert swimmer from Swimming Federation of India (SFI), was the independent observer, who will submit a report to the federation documenting and ratifying the swimming expedition of the Hawks.
  • It will be later submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • Paramveer Singh, a wing commander of the (Indian Airforce) IAF and team leader said that the feat, titled ‘Swim of the Century’ sponsored by IDBI Bank, was undertaken with the sole purpose of paying tributes to the martyrs and victims of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
  • The other members of the team were Manav Mehta, a 16-year-old student of Class 11 at Podar School in Mumbai; Vicky Tokas from the IAF; assistant sub-inspector of police Shrikant Palande; ex-IAF Gulupili Narahari and Rahul Chiplunkar, a swimming coach. Subhodh Sule was the navigator on board a boat.
  • Previously, the Sea Hawks, with different swimmers, had swam across River Ganga for the causes Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and also the Clean Ganga mission.

State ties up with bike rental firm, to launch two-wheeler tours to popular destination

  • The Tourism department is creating a new way for you to experience the beaches, mountains and heritage spots of Karnataka with motorcycle tourism.
  • Collaborating with Wicked Rides, a bike rental startup, the Tourism department will be creating tours on two-wheelers to popular destinations like Gokarna, Bandipur, Agumbe, Belur and Mysuru.
  • The government will provide spacious campsites with basic facilities such as tents on rent, washrooms and electricity while Wicked Rides will take care of the logistics such as preparing the itinerary, renting bikes and arranging back-up vehicles.
  • Tourism department secretary Naveen Raj Singh, an enthusiastic rider himself, said there were many bikers in the Bengaluru and state.
  • “I found out that there were at least 200 to 300 bikes going out of the city in the weekends. It is popular and cheap as well. So, we thought it would be a great way to promote tourism,” he said. He loves the freedom on the road and believes more people should experience it.
  • The project is being kicked-off with a two-day bike ride to Hampi on Saturday. The promotional ride is sponsored by the government and will have 25 participating riders. To make a statement that bikes are not only for men, ten women riders from Bengaluru will be in the group.
  • Candida Louis, known for her solo motorcycle journeys around the country, appreciated the government for supporting biker groups. “This will be particularly helpful for women because often we have to pitch tents in unknown places which may not be safe,” she said.
  • Leading by example, four government officers will also be part of the trip. “We want to show everyone that it is a fun activity which is not limited to men or younger people,” Singh said. The group will be visiting famous heritage sites in Hampi and camping on the premises of Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari, a KSTDC property.
  • Further plans for the project are being chalked out. Two campsites of about 15 to 20 acres in Begur and Mysuru are being developed by the government. “We will outsource running of the campsites. Other bike rental companies can also tie up with us,” Singh said.
  • One of the things they have in mind is to provide a seamless touring experience of Karnataka beginning from the airport. “A tourist sitting in New York can book it online. We will present a curated trip to the tourist. Once everything is finalised, the bike will be available for the booked tourist at the Kempegowda International Airport. All one has to do is strap their bags on and leave. The itinerary will be available on a mobile phone and it will guide tourist,” Singh said.
  • Within a month, bookings can be made for trips on the websites of the Tourism department and Wicked Rides. In the initial stage, the rides can be booked only from Bengaluru but they intend to extend it to other parts of the state as well.

Karnataka: Smart Cities – Process on to pick experts to execute action plans

  • The four cities from Karnataka selected in the second round of the Smart City initiative have commenced the process of selecting project management consultants to help execute their respective action plan for city improvement.
  • The corporations of Hubballi-Dharwad, Mangaluru, Shivamogga and Tumakuru have invited request for proposals from interested project management consultants and have fixed January 6, 2017 as the last date for submitting the proposals.
  • The Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC) in Bengaluru, the nodal agency for the Smart City initiative, the cities will simultaneously work on constituting Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for programme implementation.
  • The SPVs are companies with a board of directors from the state government, Ministry of Urban Development and independent directors.
  • The SPVs are proposed to be put in place to ensure autonomy in decision-making and mission implementation of smart cities.
  • The cities of Belagavi and Davangere, selected in the first round of the Smart City initiative, have already received Rs 388 crore each to execute their planned projects. The Centre and state governments have chipped in with Rs 194 crore each (two annual instalments for the five-year Rs 1,000 crore Smart City Mission).
  • Belagavi and Davangere have finalised their priority areas for development after public consultation, the four cities selected in the second round will soon have to put in place a forum for public discussion and debate before finalising their action plans.
  • All the cities trying their luck to get into the Smart City Mission list have to submit their proposals in two parts- one pertaining to area-based development and the other on their plans for pan-city development.

Bangalore to try again

  • Bengaluru, which missed out in the second round of the Smart City challenge due to lack of proper consultation while preparing an action plan for improving the city’s infrastructure, will be trying its luck again in the third round of the initiative, the process for which is scheduled to commence in January.

Mangaluru to lauch app

  • Redevelopment of 1,628 acres of Hampankatta-Old Port-Bunder-River front area To launch “One touch Mangaluru” app to provide city with 24×7 municipal services, security, transport operations Aquatic node: Boosting fishing, trade, recreation and transport connectivity besides beach development

Hubballi-Dharwad

  • Strengthening multi-modal transport (from airport to railway station)
  • Putting in place Non-Motorised Transport policy in non-vehicular zones
  • Achieving ‘sense of space’ by developing public spaces and parks
  • Introducing GPS, GIS for improving efficiency in source segregation of garbage

Shivamogga

  • Development of land stretches along the River Tunga passing through Shivamogga city (275 acres)
  • Putting in place an Integrated Traffic and Transportation System
  • Intelligence LED street lighting and surveillance

Tumakuru

  • Decongest city centre by expanding CBD around Tumakuru Amanikere lake
  • CCTV camera surveillance across the city
  • To set up integrated city management controlcentre to operate services like transport, water andenergy supply and emergency response

Temple near Udupi 1st to sign up for Paytm

  • The Gurunarasimha temple at Saligrama near Udupi has switched to cashless donations from devotees, through e-wallet Paytm.
  • The move is, perhaps, a first-of-its-kind initiative in a temple in the state.
  • Ananthapadmanabha Aithal, president of the temple Trust, told that the temple had introduced a swiping machine two months ago to help devotees donate, much before the demonetisation.
  • It has now gone a step further with Paytm. The system was introduced in the temple on Thursday and devotees started using the application on Friday. The temple’s move has been welcomed by the devotees.
  • The administration has opened a Paytm account in the name of the temple and has linked it to the temple’s savings account in the bank.
  • Aithal said that the people were finding the new method easier than paying through debit/credit cards. He said devotees could download the Paytm app and pay with Paytm Wallet.
  • Aithal said it may be necessary to educate some devotees about the application. A computer operator is helping devotees who find it difficult to use the application. Devotees will get a message confirming the receipt of the money on their mobile phones, Aithal said.
  • The temple is a pilgrimage centre for devotees belonging to all castes, especially Kota Brahmins. Using Paytm eliminates the possibility of fake and soiled notes being deposited in the temple hundi, Aithal said.

Karnataka plans 100% quota for locals in private blue-collar jobs

  • The Karnataka government is planning to introduce 100% reservation to Kannadigas in blue-collar jobs in private sector industries across the state.
  • The state labour department has released the draft amendments to the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules of 1961 to this end.
  • Sources said that the government has already drafted the new move and it will be placed in the Assembly after going through the legality of the amendment.
  • The objections raised in the amendment will also be taken up in the assembly.
    Karnataka Labour Minister Santosh Lad said that the amendment will ensure job opportunities to the local people.
  • He also said that the industry houses gets a lot of concession from the government, be it land cost, tax rebate etc and therefore they also need to encourage the local talent.
  • Employers’ attitude needs to be changed. We will place it before the cabinet and I am hopeful that there will be no roadblock.”
  • The department also provided 5% reservation for a disabled person who is also a Kannadiga. The IT-BT (information technology-biotechnology) vertical has been exempted as they are not covered under the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules of 1961 for a period of five years from 2014.
  • If industries do not follow these new guidelines, the government will cancel all concessions given to them.
  • The amendments will be implemented once the law department gives its approval the second time.
  • The move is not just for manufacturing sector but also for IT and Biotech sector.
  • An industry can hire an outsider if there is not Kannadiga available for the job.
  • A Kannadiga according to the new draft is someone who is born in Karnataka or lived in the state for not less than 15 years and knows to read, write, speak and understand Kannada.
  • Sources in the labour department said the government did not want to hamper the “bread and butter” of the state GDP with the reservation policy . “We did not want to invite a problem with the powerful IT-BT lobby at this point in time. Let’s first implement this reservation and then take on the IT-BT vertical later,” a department official said.

Karnataka: Railways instals PoS machines at 73 reservation counters

• The railways have started installing point of sale (PoS) machines at as many as 73 reservation counters.
• The facility will also be made available at parcel counters, where payments can be made using debit and credit cards,       this facility, however, is not available at unreserved counters.
• N S Shridhar Murthy, senior divisional commercial manager said, “Around 60% of the tickets are booked online. We        normally earn Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh from freight charges and Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh from ticket fares daily.
• However, there has seen a drop of 10% in the revenue during the last one month. With digital adoption, we hope to            increase patronage,” he added. Agarwal said the sale of monthly passes has gone up to 65,000, an increase of 10%

Upgrading Baiyappanahalli terminal

• On the proposal of upgrading Baiyappanahalli railway station as a third terminal, Agarwal said that the civil work for          constructing three pit lines for the maintenance of trains and seven platforms has already started.
• On completion, around 16 train services could be started from here. This is expected to be ready in 2018.
• Besides, Agarwal said as many as 2.52 lakh cases were booked against ticket less travellers till November this year.
• With this, they have collected a revenue of Rs 12 crore. It was Rs 8 crore during the corresponding period last year

New MEMU train

  • SWR has proposed to introduce three new Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) trains from Krantiveera Sangolli            Rayanna railway station (Bengaluru City) to Ramanagaram, Whitefield and Kuppam.
  • They have got three rakes (a set of coaches) from the Indian Railways.
  • In a month, there will be three MEMU train services from Bengaluru City to Ramanagaram, one train service to  Whitefield and another to Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh, 130 km from Bengaluru City railway station.
  • The train has been scheduled to depart from Bengaluru City railway station at 5.20 am and reach Ramanagaram at 6.14 am.
  •  SWR also has plans to convert 15 conventional (passenger) trains into MEMU trains. “We have sought financial support of Rs 360 crore from the state government. The funds will be used to convert passenger trains into MEMU trains, which increase passenger capacity from 1,000 to 2,500,” he said.

Shatabdi fare to Mysuru Rs 300

• Sanjeev Agarwal, divisional manager, SWR said that the fare on Chennai Central-Mysuru Shatabdi Express between     Bengaluru City and Mysuru has been reduced from Rs 440 to Rs 300.
• Besides, there has been a reduction of 10% in the tatkal quota in Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains. Also, railways    has introduced 10% rebate in the basic fare on vacant berths after preparation of the first chart.
• The 10% discount shall also be applicable for allotment of vacant berths (when passengers don’t show up) in the train      by TTEs.

Karnataka: Govt to set up hydel project in elephant corridor

  • The state government is gearing up to set up a mini hydel project next to the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, an elephant corridor, even as cases of jumbos straying out of forest areas in search of water and food and getting killed are on the rise.
  • The proposed mini-hydel project will violate the directions issued by the Karnataka High Court in 2008 that no projects can come up in and around elephant corridors.
  • Taking suo motu action to ensure that there is no destruction of elephant corridors, the court had formed the elephant task force.
  • The proposed project near Gaganachukki-Bharachukki waterfalls in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district was opposed by several agencies in the past.
  • However, the government now seems to be keen on reviving the proposal. It recently asked senior officials of Forest department to visit the proposed project spot and submit a report. Under ‘pressure from political bosses,’ a team visited the area.
  • The project is just 200 metres from the waterfalls.
  • “Based on the recommendations of the state government, a committee comprising Principal Chief Conservator of Forests P Suresh and B J Hosmath and other senior officials visited the place.
  • The committee members were directed to visit the location and submit a project feasibility report,” a Forest department official said
  • The committee had inspected the place. It will hold a meeting in three to four days. Based on the recommendations made at the meeting, a report will be prepared and submitted to the government.
  • It is unfortunate that when there is water crisis in Karnataka and, man-animal conflicts are increasing, the government is pressing for power generation projects on forest borders.
  • Increasing urbanisation has led to the death of three elephants on the outskirts of Bengaluru in the last 10 days.
  • The project, experts opine, will not only lead to further depletion of water table but also curtail water supply to Bengaluru.

Who had opposed

  • In the past, the hydel project had met with opposition from many quarters, including the State Wildlife Board.
    Cricketer and former vice chairman of Wildlife Board Anil Kumble had rejected the government’s proposal.
  • Kumble is still a member of the board. The board had also pointed that the project will lead to man-elephant conflict.
  • In 2015, the secretary, Forest department, too had opposed the project stating that it will destruct wildlife habitat.
  • In September 2016, a wildlife board meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too had refused to give permission for the project.

Why the project has been opposed

  • According to news reports, human-elephant conflict is on the rise.
  • In 2012, the Karnataka High Court set up a task force to address this issue.
  • In September that year, in a report submitted to the court, the Karnataka Elephant Task Force estimated that on an average 25-30 people were killed in the state every year due to elephant attacks.
  • The all India figure is 250-300 deaths per year. Some claims put the figure at 400 deaths a year. Over 100 elephants are killed every year in retaliatory attacks.
  • In 2013-’14, the state government paid Rs 993.8 lakh to the families of people who had died, for crop losses and property damage.
  • Causes for human-elephant conflict listed in official reports include ill-planned mini-hydel projects, quarrying activities and other commercial infrastructure projects in and around elephant habitats in Karnataka, which has pushed the animals into the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Goa.
  • Forest departments have tried to address the problem by constructing elephant-proof trenches and installing solar fences.
  • However, field-based studies conducted in Karnataka and Maharashtra by the Wildlife Research and Conservation Society show how engineering solutions like barriers have failed to keep elephants away from the fields and villages.

Karnataka: Air ambulance service to be operational in Jan

  • Karnataka state will get its first air ambulance facility in the New Year.
  • The Chief Minister Siddaramaiah formally launched the air ambulances on 16th Dec, commercial operations will begin in January 2017.
  • Arun Sharma, managing director, Aviators Air Rescue Limited, the service provider, said necessary clearances have been sought from the Director General of Civil Aviation to operate air ambulances.
  • The services are from one airport to another as company didn’t get permission to land on site.
  • The air ambulance would help patients reach destinations faster besides helping transport organs, blood units, drugs or medical equipment, he explained. H130 helicopters are medically configured with emergency medical services, advanced life support medical equipment and a stretcher.

Air ambulance will have:

  • The air ambulance will have a doctor and a paramedic.
  • If the patient is minor, an attendant will be allowed to fly. The ambulance can support a patient for 90 to 180 minutes
  • The service provider has tied up with several private hospitals in Bengaluru.
  • Patients would be picked up from their homes or hospitals by road and taken to a nearby airport. From there, they would be flown to an airport closer to their chosen destination.

Subscription

  • It is a subscription-based model.
  • For an individual subscription, the cost would be Rs 9,000 a year while a family subscription would cost Rs 18,000.
  • Once the subscription is availed of, the service can be used any number of times throughout the year. Individuals without subscription would have to pay Rs 1.75 lakh per hour.

Future Plans

  • The company has plans to launch similar services in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala to begin with and later extend them to other states.
  • To avail of the service one can call the emergency number 155350.

Karnataka: Doctors want govt to mandate hypothyroidism test for newborns

What is congenital hypothyroidism?

  • Congenital hypothyroidism (CHT) is a condition resulting from an absent or under-developed thyroid gland (dysgenesis) or one that has developed but cannot make thyroid hormone because of a ‘production line’ problem (dyshormonogenesis).
  • Babies with CHT cannot produce enough thyroid hormone for the body’s needs. The term ‘congenital’ means that the condition is present at birth.

What causes congenital hypothyroidism and is it inherited?

  • Very early in an unborn baby’s development the thyroid gland moves from the back of the tongue to its normal position in the neck. In some babies this fails to occur and the gland does not develop at all.
  • In others it is higher in the neck than normal and does not work as well as it should. Dysgenesis is the term that is often used to describe these forms of CHT.
  • Around 80% of babies with CHT have dysgenesis and the risk of a couple having another child with this kind of CHT is low.
  • The more uncommon type, dyshormonogenesis, affects around 20% of babies with CHT.
  • The gland is in the right position but does not produce thyroxine normally because of a ‘production line’ problem. This type can be inherited and there is a risk that the baby’s siblings will also be affected.

Why in News

  • Two weeks ago, a dwarf girl was carried in her mother’s arms into a private clinic in Yelahanka. She wasn’t a toddler. She was 21 years old.
  • At the first look, the doctor was able to determine what led to the stunted growth.
  • It was congenital hypothyroidism: a rare disease that can be diagnosed with a simple blood test that costs less than Rs 100. Had she been diagnosed at birth, the girl would have led a normal life, said Dr Praveen Ramachandra, director, DiaPlus Clinic, Yelahanka.
  • Many children like her have hypothyroidism-associated disorders that can be treated if diagnosed early. Paediatricians, obstetricians and gynaecologists want the Karnataka government to make it mandatory that all newborns are screened for possible hypothyroidism.
  • Addressing a press conference, they said they would soon petition the state and Union governments in that regard.
  • Dr Mala Dharmalingam, professor and head, endocrinology, MS Ramaiah Medical College, said a national-level committee would soon make representations to the government about making hypothyroidism screening mandatory for newborns. “In all corporate hospitals, this screening is done. There is no reason why government hospitals should not do it,” she said.
  • The screening, which costs just Rs 60-100, can improve many lives. “If the child is screened at birth and treatment begins soon after, morbidities can be avoided,” Dr Dharmalingam said.
  • Hypothyroidism in children can cause mental retardation, stunted growth, lower IQ, hair fall and dry skin, among other complications.
  • Dr Anjana Hulse, consultant paediatric endocrinologist, Apollo Hospitals, said congenital hypothyroidism could be of two kinds. In primary hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is absent, located elsewhere or is existent but non-functional.
  • In secondary hypothyroidism, the pituitary gland does not send messages for the secretion of thyroid hormones. “It could be multi-factorial or genetic,” she said.

Demonetization: ‘Revenue shortfall may add up to Rs 3K crore’

  • The shortfall in revenue in Karnataka due to note ban could add up to Rs 3,000 crore by the end of the current fiscal 2016-17, officials of the four major revenue mobilising departments have told Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
  • According to sources in the chief minister’s secretariat, the officials told Siddaramaiah that revenue collection, especially in the stamps and registration and transport department, has been severely hit due to note ban. Revenue collection has gone down during November and December.
  • Siddaramaiah, who also holds the finance portfolio, had convened a meeting of officials of the four major revenue mobilising departments – commercial taxes, stamps and registration, excise and transport – to review the impact of demonetisation.
  • However, Siddaramaiah is learnt to have told the officials that the budgetary target will have to be met at all costs. The chief minister said he will hold another review meeting in January and the department by then will have to prepare an action plan to ensure they meet their budgetary targets.
  • Steps will have to be taken to ensure there is no sale of spurious liquor, he told the officials of excise department.

Transport corporations lost Rs 45 cr, post note ban

  • The State Road Transport Corporations have incurred a loss of Rs 45.57 crore, following the ban on high-denomination notes on November 8.
  • Addressing a press meet here on Tuesday, Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said, the NEKRTC has suffered a loss of 8.30 crore, while the NWKRTC lost Rs 10.70 crore post demonetisation.
  • BMTC and the KSRTC incurred a loss of Rs 11.76 crore and 4.70 crore respectively the minister added.
  • Reddy also said since its inception KSRTC had been incurring losses. “But, our aim is not to make profit, but to provide transport services to the people,” he said.

Fine halved for regularising buildings in rural areas

  • The state Cabinet gave approval for slashing the penalty under regularisation of buildings on revenue lands in rural and peripheral urban areas by 50%.
  • After the Cabinet meeting, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra told the media that a decision was taken to come to the aid of farmers who were finding it difficult pay the penalty.

What is the Penalty?

  • The penalty amount had been fixed at Rs 2,000 for houses built on 30×40 sqft sites; Rs 4,000 for houses built on 40×60 sqft sites, and Rs 6,000 for houses built on 50×80 sqft sites. With a 50% reduction, the penalty now stands at Rs 1,000, Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000, for the above mentioned dimensions.
  • In peripheral urban areas, the penalty amount has been reduced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000 for houses built on 20×30 sqft sites. For the SC/ST and disabled persons, the penalty amount has been further slashed by 50%, bringing it down to Rs 2,500.
  • The regularisation scheme has been effected by amending Sections 94C and 94CC of Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964. Earlier, the government had extended the deadline for seeking applications for regularisation from Dec 20 to Jan 21, 2017.
  • Jayachandra said the government would have to bear an additional financial burden of Rs 100 crore as it had decided to procure tur dal in the open market by paying a bonus/support price of Rs 450 per quintal. With this, the farmers will get Rs 5,500 per quintal.
  • In addition to Food Corporation of India and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd, the government has also directed the Food and Civil Supplies department to procure tur from farmers.

Other Cabinet decisions

  • Approval for construction of new government engineering college at Naragund, Gadag at Rs 58 crore
  • Establishment of maternal & child health hospital in Kalaburagi district hospital at Rs 15.85 crore
  • Upgrading Rajiv Gandhi super speciality hospital in Raichur at a non-recurring cost of Rs 27.51 crore and recurring cost of Rs 20.89 crore
  • Grant of 2 acres of govt gomala land in Giddegowdanahalli, Bangarpet taluk, Kolar, to KGF Powerloom Park Pvt Ltd.
  • Grant of 7.04 acres of govt land free of cost in Santekadur village, Nidige hobli, Shivamogga to KSRTC
  • Approval for upgrading Kaginele Kanaka Sarovara at Byadagi taluk, Haveri, at Rs 14.15 crore
  • Administrative approval for Sasvehalli lift irrigation scheme in Honnali taluk, Davangere district at Rs 415.68 crore

2nd edition of Bird Fest at Hampi from Jan 5

  • The second edition of the Bird Festival, organised by the Eco-Tourism Board, will beheld in Hampi-Daroji from January 5, 2017.
  • The focus of the three-day meet is conservation of the threatened Great Indian Bustard (GIB) and its dwindling habitat. Vinay Lutra, chairman of the Eco-Tourism Board told that GIB and other grassland birds are threatened and mostly found in north Karnataka region.
  • Vijay Mohan Raj, Chief Conservator of Forests, Belagavi, added that the department will also organise the first ever state-wide GIB survey.
  • The survey will start with the Bird Festival and will be done across the state. It will take two years to complete. Earlier surveys have been done informally in small pockets in Karnataka like Ranebennur in 1998-99.
  • The survey will be done with the help of conservationists like Samad Kothur. The forest department does not have a database on the GIB population in Karnataka as they migrate between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
  • In Karnataka, they are found in Gadag, Koppal, Bagalkot, Rannebennur and near Kolar. The first Bird Festival held in 2015 in Anshi-Dandeli Tiger Reserve had focused on hornbills.

Talk on birds

  • The list of speakers comprise forest department officials from Uttarakhand and Karnataka, apart from photographers, famous ornithologists and documentary filmmakers.
  • They include conservationist Sumit K Sen, bird expert Bikram Garewal, wildlife biologist Shashank Dalvi, IFS officer Dr Gobind Sagar Bhardwaj and Samira, the youngest speaker, who has a master’s degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru.
  • Samira has recorded songs of 100 birds, including, the Racket-tailed Drongo in BRT Tiger Reserve. Some Bengaluru-based bird watchers and experts like Praveen J, Ganesh H Shankar and Dr S Subramanya will also participate in the workshop.

State seeks Rs 5,064-crore relief from Centre to tide over crop loss

  • Karnataka has demanded a Rs 5,064-crore relief package to offset the crop loss due to drought in most parts of the state and excess rain in three districts.
  • Karnataka Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa and Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and submitted a memorandum seeking a Rs 4,702-crore relief package for loss of kharif crop this season.
  • The ministers also sought Rs 362 crore in Central relief to help farmers whose crops were affected due to excess rain in Bidar, Kalaburagi and Yadgir districts.
  • Gowda said farmers in Karnataka did not face any difficulty in sowing for the rabi crop in the aftermath of demonetisation.
  • However, farmers were unable to sell their kharif produce in wholesale markets due to poor demand.

Downfall

  • Trade transactions have fallen by about 30-35%
  • Transport activities have slowed down due to cash shortage after demonetisation which has affected supply of vegetables to neighbouring states such as Maharashtra and Goa.

Other Demands

  • Gowda said the state government has asked Nafed to intensify purchase of tur dal and copra at minimum support price after prices nosedived due to excess availability of the crop.
  • Karnataka has been facing severe drought for the past six years. The drought in 2016-17 was the worst in 40 years. The state has declared 139 taluks out of 176 as drought-hit.
  • The state government will soon set up an authority to review cases filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the state.
  • Speaking at the inauguration of Minorities’ Rights Day, he said the proposed authority will review cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and submit reports to the government.
  • The permission for prosecution will be accorded based on its reports. This is being done to prevent misuse of the Act, he added.
  • A provision has been made in the Act to set up the authority. But, it has not been done in Karnataka so far.
  • Currently, cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are directly referred to investigative agencies, resulting in its misuse.
  • The government has received complaints against the misuse of the law. Hence, the decision has been taken to set up the authority
  • Parameshwara also said the state government will initiate steps to withdraw cases filed unnecessarily against those belonging to minority communities. A proposal in this regard will soon be placed before the state Cabinet, he added.
  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said a Cabinet sub-committee will soon be set up to look into the status of minority communities in the state.
  • The government will take appropriate measures for the social and economic development of these communities based on the sub-committee’s findings, he added.
  • He said the government is contemplating enacting legislation to provide reservation in jobs and education based on population of various communities.
  • Steps will be taken in this direction after the caste census report is released. People should get equal opportunity. There should be equitable share of wealth. Only then equality can be ensured in society, he added.

GSI finds huge gold deposits near Shivamogga district

  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has found large gold deposits spread over 600 sq km between Shikaripur in Shivamogga district and Honnali taluk of Davangere district.
  • According to the GSI sources, this is the largest gold deposit in Karnataka – next to Kolar Gold Fields and Hutti (Raichur district).
  • A team of experts from Remote Sensing and Aero-Geophysical Survey unit of the GSI has camped in the district for the past one week to conduct an aerial survey of the gold deposit.
  • The experts are also assessing the quantity of the ore available. Explaining the process, P C Das, Superintending Geologist and head of the team said that a remote sensing device attached to a helicopter scans the earth’s surface into a depth of 500 metre, from an altitude of 90 metres.
  • The scientists of Mines and Geology department of Karnataka had conducted a primary survey in this region decades ago and had submitted a report to the government indicating presence of significant gold deposit.
  • Based on this report, the state government had requested the GSI to conduct a survey.
  • The three types of surveys have revealed presence of gold deposits. We will demarcate the exact spot and assess the quantity of ore available.
  • A report will be submitted to the state government by September 2017, after consolidating the data gathered during survey.
  • Senior geophysicist N K Vinod, who is part of the team, said that 600-sq km area had been divided into 200-metre lanes and around 20 lanes were being surveyed per day.
  • The GSI team is camping near Sogane, where it has been proposed to construct an airport for Shivamogga.

BPL cardholders to get coupons to buy rations from open market

  • Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cardholders will soon have the option of redeeming coupons for rice and other foodgrain of their choice at general provision stores, if unhappy with the quality of ration supplies.
  • The department of Food and Civil Supplies has adopted the new method citing huge shortfall in availability of rice and complaints about its poor quality.
  • Food and Civil Supplies Minister U T Khader said that the department would launch a pilot project in three cities – Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Mysuru in January 2017. BPL cardholders will be given coupons, which they may redeem at provision stores for foodgrain.
  • The objective of the new exercise is to give the beneficiary the freedom of choice while buying foodgrain, curb pilferage and also give impetus to locally grown foodgrain, claimed Khader.
  • The coupons may be collected from franchise centres.
  • For a five-member family card, the cardholder will have the option of purchasing rations worth anywhere between Rs 800 and Rs 1,000. However, the coupon facility will be optional as the existing system of supplying subsidised foodgrain through ration shops will continue.
  • Now, 5 kg of rice is issued to an individual beneficiary. One kg of rice costs Rs 27. A family also gets 1 kg of sugar (at Rs 20 a kg). In the open market, the prices are much higher

Undoing Anna Bhagya?

  • The department requires 25 lakh metric tonne of rice to disburse under the Anna Bhagya scheme.
  • However, only 10% of rice is procured from the state farmers, while the rest is imported from other states like Punjab and Haryana. Not only are there lots of complaints about the quality of rice, beneficiaries are also demanding that other grains like jowar be provided.
  • It has been decided to issue coupons instead of giving cash to prevent misuse.
  • Once the purchase is made, the store owner will verify it with the department, after which money will be transferred through the beneficiary’s bank account to the bank account of the store owner.

Online facility

  • An online facility for obtaining Above Poverty Line ration cards will also be launched next month.
  • An online applicant who furnishes Aadhaar details will get an APL card within 15 days through Speed Post. A variety of problems associated with issue of ration cards over the last 15 years is sought to be resolved through this method.
  • The online APL card may be printed and used for purchase of foodgrain. The printout, however, will not serve as ID proof. Only the actual card, which will be sent through speed post, may be used as proof of identity.

Miscellaneous News

  • The Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports is hosting a four-day State-level ‘Yuvajanotsava’, a cultural festival of youths, in the city from December 23. 2,000 youths aged between 15 and 35 years from different parts of the state will showcase their talent in the festival. The youths, who have excelled at the district level, will participate in the state-level events and the best performers will be selected for the national-level festival to be held in Haryana from January 12, 2017. A variety of competitions, including singing folk numbers, folk dance, classical music (Hindustani and Carnatic), classical dances Bharat-anatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and Manipuri, classical (instrumental) – flute, tabla, harmonium, guitar, mridanga, one-act play, and elocution have been scheduled.
  • Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya will celebrate New Year in the tribal village of Mururu in Kundapur taluk of Udupi district. The residents of the village belong to the Koraga tribe.Anjaneya said a layout on a 13-acre plot will be formed for rehabilitating the Jenu Kuruba tribal families evicted from their habitation at Diddalli in Kodagu district. The houses will be constructed by Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation at a cost of Rs 1.5 lakh per unit.He said 150 villages with more than 50% SC/ST population will be selected under “Mukhyamantri Adarsha Grama Yojane”. He said Rs 1 crore will be released to each village to take up housing projects
  • The ninth edition of Jagriti Yatra, a train journey to encourage social entrepreneurship, made a stop in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Five hundred ‘yatris’ from all over the country and abroad took part in a mela and interaction at Mount Carmel College. The 15-day train journey, which started in Mumbai, arrived in Bengaluru after making a stop at Hubballi. At each stop, the yatris interact with local social leaders who are known as ‘role models’. In Bengaluru, they interacted with Hemalatha Annamalai, founder of Ampere Technologies, which manufactures electric vehicles. The mission of the yatra is to build India through social enterprises by encouraging youngsters between the ages of 20 and 27 to create jobs
  • KSRTC to buy 102 more PoS machines to beat cash shortage.The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which has provided point of sale (PoS) machines at 10 booking counters, plans to instal 102 more at different counters. Under its ‘Digital KSRTC’ initiative, the largest state-run corporation also plans to procure electronic ticketing machines (ETMs), which are hand-held devices used by conductors to issue tickets. The decision gains significance in the wake of scarcity of small-denomination notes. Moreover, KSRTC’s revenues had dropped after the ban on Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.
  • Hike incentive for dairy farmers.The Animal Husbandry department has directed all district milk unions to give an incentive of Rs 1 to Rs 2 per litre to milk producers, over and above the incentive being paid by the state government. The government had recently hiked the incentive from Rs 4 to Rs 5 per litre of milk. He said that the price of milk will not be affected. There are nine lakh milk producers in the state producing 65 lakh litres
  • Health survey reports released – The National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) and State Mental Health System Survey (SMHS) assessment were released. Mental problems more in 30 to 49 age group or over 60 Low income linked to occurrence of mental disorders. 1/10 had common mental health problems