STATE ISSUES- MAY

Shorter police shift gets short shrift from govts.

  • Karnataka’s police constabulary is up in arms. A mass leave call has been issued by the Karnataka Police Mahasangha for June 4, and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and police chiefs have warned them against the protest.
  • Though the Mahasangha is not officially recognised, its appeal has evoked a big response.
  • Its key demand: An eight-hour shift.
  • It is an unreachable goal for forces nationwide, and the effects are visible in the physical and psychological health of the personnel.
  • From Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram, the story is the same: No State has a system where the constabulary hands over the baton every eight hours. In Kerala, where this has been implemented in 57 of 503 station houses, the rule is observed more in the breach.
  • A heavy workload and shortage of hands are to blame.
  • Mumbai has begun trying out eight-hour duty at Deonar station.

KSRTC to launch safety app for women commuters in Mysuru

  • Soon, women travelling by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation’s (KSRTC) buses in Mysuru can alert the KSRTC’s control room for rescue in case of an emergency.
  • The KSRTC will launch an app on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in Mysuru city which enables passengers to send rescue alerts by using ‘women safety’ feature provided in the app.
  • The app will be launched by the World Bank delegates during the two-day knowledge exchange workshop organised by the KSRTC in Mysuru from May 30.
  • when a passenger presses the panic feature on the app, it sends the location of the passenger along with the contact number of the passenger to the control room.
  • The staff at the control room in turn could contact the bus crew to look into the issue. If the issue is serious in nature then the staff will ask the police station concerned to act.
  • KSRTC has requested the police department to depute a constable in the control room of the KSRTC so that rescue alerts can be attended quickly as cops have a better knowledge to tackle such situations.
  • Passengers can track real time information of KSRTC buses like arrival time, location of buses. Information on bus service to important tourist places in Mysore is also available on it.
  • The KSRTC had recently invited students under ‘appathon’ programme to create an app for the ITS.
  • The app has been developed by a group of students from a private engineering college in Mysuru.

IIMB in Financial Times’ top-50 ranking

  • The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) is the only Indian management school to be featured in the 2016 Financial Times executive education top 50 rankings
  • The IIMB is ranked 47th in the overall ranking, moving up 10 spots in the customised ranking and slipped by 4 spots in the open ranking.
  • Moving ahead of what they had achieved in 2015 with a rank of 57, IIMB has moved up 10 spots this year (2016) to 47th rank in the customised ranking.
  • The rankings are based on the participants’ and clients’ satisfaction, the diversity of participants and faculty and the schools’ international exposure. The participant schools are marked on various parameters by the companies that commission executive courses, participants of these courses and the data reported by the business schools.

Centre releases Rs 606 crore to state for drought relief

  • The Centre released an amount of Rs 606.95 crore to Karnataka to provide compensation to farmers, who lost their crops during the rabi season.
  • Though the high-level committee under Home Minister Rajanath Singh had earlier approved Rs 723.23 crore, the Ministry of Finance had released only Rs 606.95 crore due to technical reasons.
  • The remaining amount will be released soon after getting some clarification from Karnataka, relating to spending of the money
  • Karnataka is the first state to get money from the Centre in the country for take up relief for damage of winter crop.

Govt to waive loans of physically challenged people

  • The State Cabinet decided to waive loans and interest to the tune of Rs 11.07 crore provided to physically challenged people under the Adhara scheme.
  • Briefing reporters after the meeting, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said as many as 10,069 persons would benefit from the government’s move.
  • Briefing reporters after the meeting, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said as many as 10,069 persons would benefit from the government’s move.
  • The government took the decision as many of the beneficiaries were finding it difficult to repay the loans

Now, acquiring less than 100 acres for public purpose can bypass R&R

  • The Cabinet gave its nod for acquiring parcels of land less than 100 acres for public purposes without going through the process of Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R)
  • The provision would apply only to land being acquired for public purposes like housing, railway projects, road widening, power installations and for burial grounds
  • However, the land would be acquired only after getting the consent of the land loser.
  • A committee headed by the jurisdictional deputy commissioner would be constituted to fix the price for the land to be acquired.
  • The move is being taken to avoid delays and ensure speedy completion of projects meant for public purposes

Cultural policy

  • The Cabinet decided to constitute a sub-committee headed by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil to study the provisions of the ‘state cultural policy’ submitted by a committee headed by writer Baraguru Ramachandrappa.
  • The six-member committee had submitted its report to the government in June 2014 and had made 44 recommendations, including decentralisation of the department of Kannada and Culture, restricting ‘moral policing,’ setting up three academies and a tribal university.

Govt to scrap RDPR panel

  • The state government has decided to scrap the State Level Empowered Committee (SLEC) constituted by the previous BJP government to sanction drinking water schemes under the rural development and panchayat raj department (RDPR), citing irregularities.
  • The RDPR department has stated that the SLEC comprising officials and constituted during the tenure of Jagadish Shettar as chief minister, had exceeded its limits and sanctioned tenders in violation of rules, taken decisions without quorum.

Prabhakaran from state, first IFS officer to scale Everest

  • Deputy Conservator of Forests, Koppal, S Prabhakaran has become the first Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer to scale Mount Everest. After scaling Mt Everest, this 29-year-old officer is planning his next expedition to 8,210 metre-high Mount Cho- Oyu in Tibet.
  • In 2015, he had tried to scale Mt Everest from the southern (Nepal) side but could not. The team had to return from Camp One due to earthquake and avalanche.
  • It was then he decided to attempt from the northern (China) side. Southern side is frequented by many Indians and foreigners, but very few climb from the northern side, with limited rescue operations making it more challenging.

Committee for development of Basava Kalyana

  • The state government has set up a committee, headed by writer and Akhila Bharatha Sharana Sahitya Parishat Go Ru Channabasappa, with the aim of working towards the overall development of Basava Kalyana in Bidar district.
  • Several works related to Anubhava mantapa and other projects at Basava Kalyana have to be taken up

New policy to conserve Western Ghats: Centre

  • The Centre announced that a new policy is in the offing to conserve Western Ghats, which is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Centre will formulate a policy that will conserve the rich biodiversity of the area, at the same time ensuring that the livelihoods of 5 crore people residing in the region spread across Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are not adversely affected

Committee wants learner driver’s licence scrapped

  • A committee, constituted to recommend reforms in road safety measures, wants the Centre to do away with the learner driver’s licence and issue a permanent licence to road-users directly.
  • Not only does it want the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) to enhance the engine capacity of two-wheelers from the existing 50cc to 100cc, it also thinks the age limit for issuing licences should be reduced from 18 years to 16 years.
  • If the recommendations are accepted, then teenagers between 16 and 18 years, as valid licence holders, can begin using vehicles. This will automatically increase the number of two-wheelers on the roads. Bengaluru currently has 55.11 lakh vehicles, of which 42.19 lakh are two-wheelers.
  • In the current set-up, the Karnataka Transport department has been issuing learner licences to those above 18 years of age. It has, however, not been issuing licences for below 50cc two-wheelers ever since the manufacturing of such vehicles has been stopped.
  • On March 2, MORTH constituted a committee – ‘Group of ministers to discuss measures to improve road safety and ease of transport’. The committee comprises transport ministers from seven states, including Karnataka, and is headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yoonus Khan
  • The proposal has been mooted to simplify licensing procedures and to bring about transparency.
  • The intention is to introduce an online system, where anybody who turns 16 can obtain a licence online by uploading the required documents.Parents’ consent will be made mandatory. This licence will be valid for a period of one month. Following this, the applicant will be asked to apply for a permanent licence, where he/she will be subjected to rigorous tests.
  • According to sources, Karnataka and Maharashtra, however, haven’t given their official consent to this recommendation.
  • The committee also wants to recommend to the Centre to hand over the registration powers to automobile dealers. This too could have repercussions, felt some of the South Indian states, including Karnataka.
  • Most North Indian states suffer from manpower shortage in the transport department. In view of this, it was felt that the dealers should be authorised to register vehicles, instead of the government.
  • The committee feels that the existing fines should be increased by five to 10 times

Javare Gowda

  • Noted Kannada writer D. Javare Gowda, popularly known as “De. Ja. Gow.” in literary circles, passed away in Mysore on May 31, 2016
  • He was 101.
  • Javare Gowda, will not only be known for enriching Kannada literature with his books, but also for his campaigns to ensure primacy to Kannada.
  • Even as he consistently promoted Kannada as the medium of instruction in schools, De. Ja. Gow. had attracted widespread attention by staging an indefinite fast demanding classical language status to Kannada.
  • He had even threatened to return the Padma Shri conferred on him in 2001 to press for his demand.
  • He had fervently campaigned for implementation of the Sarojini Mahishi Report, which recommends reservation of jobs for Kannadigas.
  • Born to Deve Gowda and Chennamma at Chekkere in Channapatna taluk in Ramanagaram, De. Ja. Gow. was later influenced by poet laureate Kuvempu. After his M.A. in Kannada, he served the University of Mysore as professor. He wrote around 130 books. De. Ja. Gow. rose to become Vice-Chancellor of the university in 1969.
  • In recognition of his contribution to Kannada, the State government honoured him with the Karnataka Ratna and Pampa awards; he was also honoured with the Nadoja title.
  • It may be recalled that a large number of people from literary circles participated in a function organised at Kalamandira in Mysuru during July 2015 to celebrate his 100th birthday.

‘Mitra’ app for KSRTC commuters launched

  • An Android-based mobile application for the use of commuters under the Mysuru Intelligent Transport System (ITS) platform of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was launched
  • The app has been developed by the students of Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering (SJCE), Mysuru. The app offers real-time data to commuters on the intra-city bus operations here. The app is available on Google Playstore.
  • Tracking the list of buses based on the user’s location; getting the buses; time-table schedule; finding the next bus at your location; buses nearby; women safety; and alerts are among the features of the app.
  • Importantly, KSRTC has shared its real-time information about its bus operations here, “big data,” with many engineering students and asked them to develop the app accordingly.
  • The app focuses on location-based information as a commuter can get information on the number of buses and their arrival time at a particular location using the app. Also, the app comes with an alert facility for commuters.
  • It gives information of the tourist spots and buses to the spots with a list of routes.
  • There is a map facility showing the area around any stop. This can be layered in the style of Google Maps to show available amenities.
  • Besides the facility of tracking a bus, the app helps to search by route or by stop and journey can be planned between any origin and destination pair, giving the best routing.

Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization project

  • The Loan and Project Agreements for World Bank (IBRD) assistance of US$ 100 million for the Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization project were signed between Government of India/Government of Karnataka and the World Bank
  • The objective of the project is to provide city-wide access to a continuous piped water supply in the eligible cities in the State of Karnataka and to strengthen the service delivery arrangements at the city level.
  • KUIDFC is the implementing agency for the project.
  • The project would have four broad components: (i) Capital Investment Program; (ii) Institution Building; (iii) Technical Assistance for Sector Development; and (iv) Project Management.
  • The project will be implemented over a period of six years, initially in the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad, with provision for other eligible cities to join the project at a later date.
  • Under the project, the Hubballi Dharwad Municipal Corporation has hired a professional water supply operating company for improving the water supply system, as also to manage the refurbished system through a 12-year contract in accordance with strict performance criteria.
  • The municipality will retain ownership of the water supply assets and control of the service delivery set up.
  • The project will help the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation set up a city-level water utility that will take over water supply operations from the professional operating company at the end of its contract period.
  • The project will benefit about one million residents of the Hubballi- Dharwad, including estimated 160,000 slum dwellers

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

  • The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is an international financial institution that offers loans to middle-income developing countries.
  • The IBRD is the first of five member institutions that compose the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States
  • It was established in 1944 with the mission of financing the reconstruction of European nations devastated by World War II.
  • The IBRD and its concessional lending arm, the International Development Association, are collectively known as the World Bank as they share the same leadership and staff
  • Following the reconstruction of Europe, the Bank’s mandate expanded to advancing worldwide economic development and eradicating poverty.
  • The IBRD provides commercial-grade or concessional financing to sovereign states to fund projects that seek to improve transportation and infrastructure, education, domestic policy, environmental consciousness, energy investments, healthcare, access to food and potable water, and access to improved sanitation.

Justice does not come quickly to senior citizens in Karnataka29th-nation-Jus_28_2874162e

  • Karnataka has the dubious distinction of having the maximum pendency in cases filed by senior citizens.
  • Cases of senior citizens constitute about 1,08,494 of the total 12,28,912 cases pending in all the subordinate courts (excluding High Court) spread across 30 districts in Karnataka, as per the statistics available on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG)..
  • These cases, in various subordinate courts, account for 8.8 per cent of the total number of pending cases. The national average is around three per cent.
  • However, the statistics from NJDG also include data of some of the Union Territories, but does not include data from a few small States like Nagaland.

State wise

  • Tamil Nadu is in the second place, with 64,079 cases pending, about 7.08 per cent of the total pending cases in the State.
  • Madhya Pradesh (6.97 per cent) and Maharashtra (6.57) are the other two States where pendency is more than 5 per cent of the total pendency in the respective States.
  • The State with the least number of pending senior citizens’ cases is Jammu and Kashmir with 0.49 per cent, which has 207 cases of the total pending cases.
  • In Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Delhi the cases are below 1 per cent.

Karnataka

  • Among the 30 districts of Karnataka
    • the courts in Bengaluru city have highest number of pending cases filed by senior citizens at 10,583 cases, followed by Bengaluru Rural district with 9,303 cases.
    • More than 5,000 cases are pending in districts such as Mysuru, Tumakuru, Mandya, Hassan and Belagavi.
    • In Raichur, Koppal, Gadag, Kodagu and Bidar, the pendency is less than 2,000 cases.
    • Yadgir district, with 628 cases, is the only district where the number of pending cases is less than 1,000.
  • Women-
    • The pendency of cases filed by women litigants constitutes about 1,47,586, which is around 11.9 per cent of the total pendency in Karnataka.
    • Bengaluru city with 17,444 cases leads in pendency of cases filed by women litigants, followed by Bengaluru Rural (14,258 cases), Mysuru (13,678) and Tumakuru (7,964).
    • In Kodagu, only 1,095 cases filed by women are pending.
    • Gadag and Yadgir are the only two other districts where pendency is less than 2,000 cases.
    • The pendency of litigations filed by the women and senior citizens constitute nearly 20.77 per cent of the total pending cases in subordinate courts in Karnataka.
National Judicial Data Grid
  • The National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) is a part of the on-going e-Courts Integrated Mission Mode Project.
  • NJDG will work as a monitoring tool to identify, manage & reduce pendency of cases.
  • It will also help to provide timely inputs for making policy decisions to reduce delay and arrears in the system, facilitate better monitoring of court performance and systemic bottlenecks, and, thus, facilitate better resource management.
  • The NJDG will cover all categories of cases, including those relating to juvenile justice system.

Taxi aggregators face RTO’s wrath in Bengaluru

  • Taxi aggregators in Bengaluru are looking at a tense week of operations ahead. Asking the aggregators to stop their operations forthwith, the Transport Department is now also seeking the opinion of cyber experts to ban apps, which are their lifeline.
  • Besides, it might even invoke legal provisions that could put violators behind bars.
  • The drastic measures come after the aggregators refused to comply with the Karnataka on-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules.
  • Last week, the department checked over 3,000 vehicles and seized around 250 for several permit violations, triggering a spate of protest by the taxi drivers, who are sitting on protest at Freedom Park.
  • Under section 193 of the Motor Vehicle Act, agents or canvassers can be punished with a jail term besides the fine amount for the second offence.
  • In addition, another option being explored by the government is approaching the Cyber Crime police cell to institute a ban on taxi booking apps.
  • While Ola submitted a part of the required documents, Uber has asked for a day’s time.

World tiger population up 22%, says ZSI Director

  • The global tiger population has increased by 22% due to sustained efforts to save the big cat, said Kailash Chandra, Director, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).
  • As on April 2016, the population of big cat has increased from 3,200 in 2000 to 3,890 in 2016
  • India alone recorded an increase of 500 tigers and the country is home to 70% of tigers in the world. In 2006, there were 1,411 tigers, which increased to 1,706 in 2011 and 2,226 in 2014.

Karnataka tops

  • Karnataka tops the country with 406 tigers. According to the recent survey, the two tiger reserves in the state — Bandipur, which had 11 tigers in 1973, has 105 wild cats while Nagarhole has 72 tigers as of now.
  • Other states, which have significant population of the big cats are: Uttarakhand-340, Madhya Pradesh-308, Tamil Nadu-229, Maharashtra and Assam – 139 each and Kerala – 136.

Centuries-old palace to get a makeover

  • The restoration of a part of the 500-year-old ‘mud’ palace in Sural village, about 30 km from Udupi, will be completed within a fortnight. Work on it began three years ago.
  • The palace, which belongs to the House of Tulu Jain Tholahars, the Jain chieftains, who ruled parts of Udupi district, is said to be have been built in 1511.
  • One unique feature of the palace is that it has no foundation. Hopea-wood, jack-wood and wild jack-wood were used in its construction. Wooden pillars support the roof, using the inter-locking method. Not a single nail was used.
  • Its restoration was taken up by the Nirmiti Kendra at a cost of Rs. 1.6 crore, funded by the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, under the Ministry of Kannada and Culture.
  • The palace has ‘angalas’ (courtyards) and a ‘Pattada Chavadi’ (royal durbar room), and a small shrine of Padmavati Amma. Though the initial efforts to restore it began in the 1990s, there were many roadblocks. After persistent efforts by the district administration, restoration of one portion — the Perdoor Magane Chavady quarter — was sanctioned in 2013.
  • The 5,000 sq. ft Chavady has a ground floor and a first floor. Its walls are being built using laterite stones cemented together using a mixture of slaked lime, sugarcane molasses and extract from leaves of Slow Match Tree ( Careya arborea ) as was done in the original construction. These materials bring down the room temperature.
  • The Tholahars were prominent till 1691 as per a copper plate inscription of Queen Madanadevi Tholaharti. They ruled from Sural for 400 years and co-operated with the Alupa and Vijayanagara dynasties. “The restoration of the entire palace will make people aware of the rich heritage of coastal Karnataka

Karnataka Special Agricultural Zone (SAZ)

  • The Agriculture department is working out the modalities to set up Special Agricultural Zones (SAZ) in different parts of the state to provide greater technological and logistic support to farmers for increasing farm productivity.
  • The objective of the programme was to encourage farmers use the latest technology for increasing agricultural productivity by providing better facilities in the specially carved out zones.Karnataka Special agricultural zone
  • The department is working on an action plan to fix the parameters to chalk out SAZs in various parts of the state and it is expected to be ready by end of the month.
  • These zones are different from Special Economic Zones (SEZ) formed for industries where trade and tax laws differ from the rest of the country to attract investment.
  • The University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) at Bengaluru, Dharwad, Raichur and Shivamogga will be roped in while identifying the SAZs.
  • The department is also contemplating to provide efficient power, water supply, storage and transportation facilities for agricultural activities once the SAZs are carved out.
  • The aim is also to increase the income of farmers by improving agricultural productivity.
  • To start with, pulse-growing regions in the state will be given priority while carving out SAZs.
  • Karnataka stands sixth in the production of pulses in the country with Belagavi, Raichur, Vijayapura, Bidar, Dharwad and Chitradurga being the major pulse growing districts in the state.
  • The state has already decided to further increase pulses production on a “mission-mode” as the year 2016 is being observed as ‘International Year of Pulses’
  • The department is planning to carve out the first batch of SAZs by mid-June when sowing starts and at the same time is keeping its fingers crossed hoping for good monsoons this year.
  • Uttarakhand, in 2011, became one of the first states in the country to set up SAZs. However, the concept is a little different there. Farmers are encouraged if they come forward for cultivating species to develop high quality seeds of crops typical to hill regions like Uttarakhand.

To avert farmer suicides, govt plans to curb financial firms

  • Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFC), which lend money to farmers and the general public at exorbitant rates of interest, may be in for trouble
  • The state government is likely to move the High Court for removal of a stay order that prevents it from taking any “coercive action” against such companies.
  • On April 5, 2016, the government took the first step towards tightening the noose around these companies by withdrawing exemption given to four of them.
  • Accordingly, Manappuram Finance (Tamil Nadu) Ltd, Coimbatore, Manappuram General Finance and Leasing Limited, Thrissur, Kerala, Muthoot Finance Ltd and Muthoot Fincorp Ltd, Bengaluru, are no longer exempt from Section 2(10) (iv) (b) of the Karnataka Money-Lenders (KML) Act, 1961, which seeks to crack down on moneylenders.
  • The government action is based on recommendations of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies.
  • The government is under pressure to avert further farmer suicides. As many as 1,136 farmers have committed suicide in Karnataka, mainly for being unable to repay the loans taken from the NBFCs at high rates of interest, as per the records of the Registrar of Co-operative Societies.
  • The government feels its hands are tied in the matter since most financial companies claim jurisdiction under the Reserve Bank of India, saying they follow the Fair Practices Code for Lenders and are governed under Chapter 3(B) of the RBI Act, 1934.
  • The companies also argued before the High Court that the RBI Act “overrides” state laws such as the KML Act, 1961, and the Karnataka Prohibition of Charging Exorbitant Interest Act, 2004. Hence, these laws do not apply to them, they maintained.
  • There are 17,027 NBFCs in Karnataka, according to a source in the Department of Cooperation. Section 28 of the KML Act, 1961, empowers the government to fix the interest rates from time to time.
  • The present interest rate is 14% for secured loans and 16% for unsecured loans. In reality, however, the companies charge between 20% and 35%, making it extremely difficult for the borrower to repay.
  • There have been many police complaints against the NBFCs. The High Court also heard many petitions and ordered the government not to take any “coercive action” against them until it adjudicates in the matter.

Governor Vala recently returned an ordinance bill on the setting up a university for rural development and panchayat raj

  • The Governor had returned the ordinance bill, suggesting that an in-depth debate was necessary for setting up the university.
  • He has asked the government to table the bill in the next session of the state legislature, instead of taking the ordinance route.
  • The university will impart training and education in subjects related rural development and panchayat raj.
  • The bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly in the previous session. But the Upper House is yet to debate it.
  • The Governor had also recently returned another ordinance bill pertaining to providing reservation to scs/STs in government contracts.

5% industrial sheds reserved for women

  • The Commerce and Industries Department has fixed quota for SCs, STs, Backward Classes, minorities, the disabled and women for allotting industrial sheds and sites developed by government agencies.
  • The department has also decided to earmark 20% of the sheds/sites developed by Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) to micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • According to an order issued recently, 5% of the sites/sheds in new industrial areas developed by KIADB and Karnataka State Small Industries Development Corporation will be for women. Similarly, 22.5% of the sites/sheds will be for SC/STs.
  • The order states that not less than 10% of sites/sheds developed by the two agencies will be reserved for minorities, Backward Classes (category -1 and category 2A), disabled and ex servicemen. The beneficiaries will be allowed to pay in 6 equal quarterly instalments.

Speed up Swachh Bharat implementation, state told

  • The Centre asked Karnataka to expedite implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission and mandatory reforms to be undertaken under the Smart City project.
  • The target (in 2015-16) has not been achieved. The Centre’s contribution for the construction of toilets under the mission is 40%. The state should share the balance and take up toilet construction
  • A total of 9,000 individual toilets and 785 public toilets have been constructed in the state against the target of 1.4 lakh and 4,000 respectively in 2015-16.
  • Of the Rs 350 crore sanctioned by the Centre, only about Rs 100 crore has been utilised. However, Karnataka has done well as far as solid waste management is concerned
  • The actual cost of toilet construction is much higher. Hence, the Centre should increase its funding. The state had received 2.5 lakh applications for construction of toilets of which about 1.80 lakh applications have been approved. But, the less government funding is not motivating people to take up the construction

Smart Cities: Belagavi Davangere documents get Centre’s approval

  • The Centre had recently approved the vision documents for developing Davangere and Belagavi as smart cities.
  • The state had already established special purpose vehicles for implementing the Centre-sponsored Smart Cities project.
  • The estimated cost of the vision documents for these cities is Rs 1,500 crore each.
  • The state will soon submit the vision document for Shivamogga, Tumakuru, Mangaluru and Hubballi-Dharwad

Rs 250-crore facelift for Kudalasangama

  • Kudalasangama will be developed as an international tourist destination at a cost of Rs 250 crore
  • The detailed project report for the initiative is ready, and work would begin soon.
  • Kudalasangama is a pilgrimage centre in Bagalkot district. The samadhi of 12th century social reformer Basavanna is here. It is also the merging point of the rivers Krishna and Malaprabha.

Farmers may get agri input from postmen

  • In what could be a boon to farmers, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is planning to provide timely information to farmers through postmen.
  • Isro is working with the Department of Posts to link postmen with farmers to guide them with available data. The agrarian community will be provided with relevant information on cultivation, crop pattern, usage of fertiliser, sowing and harvest periods depending on seasons
  • Space technology can help the agriculture sector in crop damage assessment, soil health and blue revolution. It is also handy in disaster management as alerts can be sent ahead of any natural calamity

Govt banks on CSR funds for new dept of skill development

  • The state government is looking at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds among others to meet the requirements of its proposed new department – skill development and livelihood department.
  • The department is being set up with an aim to converge employment-related training programmes taken up by various departments under a single umbrella in a bid to increase employment opportunities among youth.
  • The government plans to mobilise Rs 500 crore for its activities during the current financial year.
  • The government is looking at both conventional and unconventional modes of financing.
  • It is also considering whether tax incentives could be provided to corporates who set up skill development centres.
  • The sources said the functions of the department will be similar to the initiative taken by the Centre to co-ordinate all skill development efforts across departments.
  • The department will focus on the local needs of the industry and issues specific to Karnataka
  • At present, skill development training programmes are implemented by multiple departments – rural development department imparts training under its Rural Livelihood Mission, urban development department under its Urban Livelihood Mission.
  • The departments of commerce and industries, social welfare, textile have in-house and also outsourced training programmes.
  • While these training programmes will continue, the skill development and livelihood department will look at coordination, convergence, ensure there is no duplication, interact with industries for their job requirements, look at emerging and new skills and also the demand for manpower.
  • The new Skill Development and Livelihood Department will start functioning from this year under the direct control of the chief minister and Rs 500 crore has been earmarked for the purpose

Hike in pension for construction workers

  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah directed the Labour Department to enhance the pension given to building and other construction workers.
  • Presently, Rs 1,000 per month is being paid to beneficiaries under the pension scheme.

Slashing age limit of labourers’ pension mooted

  • The Karnataka government will urge the Centre to bring down the age limit of labourers availing pension benefits
  • Currently, it has been decided by the Centre to disburse a pension amount of Rs 1,000 to those labourers registered with the Karnataka Labour Welfare Board, after they turn 60.
  • However, the state government wants to bring down the age limit from 60 years to 55 years for men and 50 years for women, for availing monthly pension

Apple to open iOS app design, development centre in Bengaluru

  • US tech giant Apple Inc announced setting up a software laboratory in Bengaluru to support startups and developers working on the company’s iOS platform as its Chief Executive Tim Cook began his maiden visit to India
  • The app design and development accelerator or laboratory will open in Bengaluru in early 2017, Apple said in a statement.
  • Apple, which is facing slagging sales in the US and Europe, is pushing for opening retail stores in India.
  • Apple’s team will work with developers on best practices, help them hone their skills and transform the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform
  • India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world. With the opening of this new facility in Bengaluru, we are giving developers access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world,” Cook said.
  • The facility will also provide support and guidance on Swift, Apple’s intuitive programming language created to build apps for iOS, Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch.
  • The Apple CEO’s visit comes at a time when the US-based firm is focusing on new growth markets like India after posting its first-ever decline in iPhone sales.

Govt to set up Balekundri study chair at VTU

  • The Karnataka government has decided to establish a study chair in the name of irrigation expert S G Balekundri at Visvesvaraya Technological University.
  • It has also decided to instal Balekundri’s statue at the Malaprabha reservoir
  • Balekundri’s contribution to the irrigation sector in the state was immense. He left his mark on several projects, including the ones in the Cauvery and Krishna river basins and the establishment of an effective electricity network in the state.

Venkatappa Gallery hosts art marathon

  • An art marathon, said to be first-of-its kind, started at Ventakatappa Art Gallery (VAG)
  • Artists from different walks of life from across the state came together to showcase their works.
  • The event was organised with an objective to bring the artists’ community under one roof and draw the attention of state government towards the attempts being made to privatise the premier institution.
  • The concept is closely linked to the structure and execution of the exhibition.
  • Each day, the action starts at 11 am and ends at 7 pm. The day is divided into nine slots and each slot will show four to five artists at a time displaying their works for a total period of 45 minutes.
  • A total of 102 artists will showcase their work at the art marathon.

8 weeks after HC order, dept uncertain on Arogyabandhu

  • The Department of Health and Family Welfare is still uncertain about scrapping the Arogyabandhu scheme wherein a contract was signed under the PPP (public-private partnership) with various NGOs and charitable trusts to run the public health centres (PHCs).
  • Hearing a petition filed by Karuna Trust in the High Court, questioning the government’s move to scrap scheme and the subsequent termination of the contract, Justice L Narayanaswamy had asked the government to reconsider its decision within four weeks.
  • A third-party evaluation was conducted on the PHCs under the PPP model. It was found that the Trust was not running as per the agreement and had many shortcomings. Hence, we decided to terminate the contract and withdraw the scheme. A final decision will be taken shortly
  • Some of the findings of the third-party report were that the PHCs were not following the guidelines and there was mismanagement of funds. The report stated that the PHCs under PPP mode were not providing quality service to patients and were compromising on their well-being.
  • The Trust has contended that it had entered into contracts to run 25 PHCs. The Trust had purchased land and constructed building quarters. It said that it had also purchased land to construct PHCs in Yemalur and Kammasandra.
  • Despite the fact that the PHCs run by the Trust were given quality certification by NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare) and ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), they received a notice from the Health department, asking them to hand over 7 PHCs, as the said scheme had been discontinued.
  • The petitioners have contended that if the government withdraws the scheme and the contract abruptly, more than 500 medical and para-medical staff in various PHCs would be on the streets and it would be detrimental to public health.
  • The Trust argued that third-party report was not foolproof as they had not inspected all the PHCs.

Hasta Shilpa

  • The famed Hasta Shilpa Trust, Manipal, will allow public viewing of its Heritage Village on a trial basis from May 14 till 31.
  • The Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village near Mannupalla creates a nostalgic ambience
  • The six acres of land house intricately carved wooden pillars, polished wooden doors, elegant carvings, marvellous ceilings, open-sky courtyards and museums replicate the affluent inheritance of the legacy.
  • The journey through the heritage village is a journey into the past which is reflected in the restored houses.
  • As many as 28 structures have been dismantled from across Karnataka and meticulously reconstructed in the village.

Muscle to skin, polio vaccine set for a shift

  • The Centre is contemplating to change the injecting method of the polio vaccine from intramuscular to intradermal.
  • This follows reports that the injectable polio vaccine (IPV) is going out of stock in several hospitals in Bengaluru and elsewhere in the country.
  • In Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Odisha, the government will ask medical professionals to inject the vaccine in the layers of the skin instead of the muscle.
  • While the intramuscular dosage consumes 0.5 ml of the vaccine, in the intra-dermal method, it is just 0.1 ml. However, should it be changed to intradermal form, the child will be administered two doses
  • It is found to be as effective as the intra-muscular form
  • The first dose of this vaccine is administered when the child is six weeks old. When the child comes for the first dose of the oral polio vaccine and pentavalent vaccine, 0.1 ml of the IPV is administered. After a gap, the second dose is given along with the third dose of pentavalent vaccine and oral polio vaccine 3, when the newborn is 14 weeks old.
  • These vaccines can be given only in health care set-ups such as primary health centres and hospitals. “It requires skill to inject the vaccine in the skin. Health workers are not trained for it. Hence, only in urban areas and hospital set-ups, this shift would be considered if there is severe shortage,”

Bird flu outbreak and measures taken 

  • As many as 35,000 chicken have died in 20 days at Melakera in Humnabad taluk, sending shockwaves among those in the poultry farming industry.

    bird flu outbreak in Karnataka
    Bird flu outbreak outbreak in Karnataka and its effect on poultry sector
  • Animal Husbandry Minister A Manju confirmed that the chicken deaths were due to bird flu.
  • A series of measures have been put in place by the department of health and family welfare, following reports about the outbreak
  1. Officials of the department have urged people to eat only completely cooked meat and not consume raw eggs.
  2. A five-member rapid response team headed by Dr Harshavardhan, a senior official in the department, and comprising doctors, microbiologists and a chief health officer from the Health department has been asked to do a spot inspection
  3. Measures have been put in place to ensure that the one lakh plus chicken are culled immediately and the eggs are destroyed and buried to contain the spread of the disease. The 50 culling teams which were formed, cleared an area in a 500 to 1,000-metre radius near the private farm. Teams are being trained and given disinfectant apparel for culling. The carcasses would be dumped in a huge pit excavated near the farm’s gate
  4. As a precautionary measure, those who came in contact with chicken will undergo medical examination and will be given Tamiflu tablets
  5. An anganwadi in Bidar has been converted into a makeshift hospital to provide treatment should any person be identified with the symptoms.
  6. Hospitals with ICU facility have been identified in Bidar and Kalaburagi districts and beds have been kept ready to attend to emergency cases.
  7. The staff of the ‘104’ Arogyavani helpline have been updated about the flu and the precautionary measures to be taken.
  8. Restrictions have been put on the movement of poultry, eggs and other input from the affected areas.
  9. Poultry farmers have been advised to take appropriate bio-security measures and approach the Animal Husbandry Department for any assistance
  10. Around 1.5 lakh chickens are said to be infected with the Avian Influenza and will be culled

Are Indian’s Safe?

  • Indians were less likely to contract the H5N1 virus because of their distinct cooking culture. The virus dies at temperature above 60 degrees Celsius. Since the Indian food is cooked at a higher temperature and is even boiled, the virus likely dies down
  • Outside of India, chicken and egg are eaten raw or half-cooked, increasing the chances of the virus spread

What is the symptoms of bird flue?

The typical symptoms of bird flu will be fever, body ache along with sever cold and cough. Sometimes patients may come with rashes too

What to do Should anyone be suspected to be carrying the virus?

Blood samples should be immediately sent to the National Institute of Virology at Nimhans, Bengaluru, for examination. If the sample tests positive, the individual must be quarantined.

About Avian influenza —

  • It is known informally as avian flu or bird flu — refers to “influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds.
  • “Bird flu” is a phrase similar to “swine flu,” “dog flu,” “horse flu,” or “human flu” in that it refers to an illness caused by any of many different strains of influenza viruses that have adapted to a specific host.
  • Out of the three types of influenza viruses (A, B, and C), influenza A virus is a zoonotic infection with a natural reservoir almost entirely in birds
  • Avian influenza, for most purposes, refers to the influenza A virus.
  • Though influenza A is adapted to birds, it can also stably adapt and sustain person-to person transmission.
  • Avian influenza strains are divided into two types based on their pathogenicity: high pathogenicity (HP) or low pathogenicity (LP)
  • Avian influenza is most often spread by contact between infected and healthy birds, though can also be spread indirectly through contaminated equipment
  • The virus is found in secretions from the nostrils, mouth, and eyes of infected birds as well as their droppings.
  • HPAI infection is spread to people often through direct contact with infected poultry, such as during slaughter or plucking
  • Though the virus can spread through airborne secretions, the disease itself is not an airborne disease. Highly pathogenic strains spread quickly among flocks and can destroy a flock within 28 hours; the less pathogenic strains may affect egg production but are much less deadly.
  • Although it is possible for humans to contract the avian influenza virus from birds, human-to-human contact is much more difficult without prolonged contact. However, public health officials are concerned that strains of avian flu may mutate to become easily transmissible between humans
  • Five manmade ecosystems have contributed to modern avian influenza virus ecology: integrated indoor commercial poultry, range-raised commercial poultry, live poultry markets, backyard and hobby flocks, and bird collection and trading systems including cockfighting. Indoor commercial poultry has had the largest impact

H5N1

  • The highly pathogenic influenza A virus subtype H5N1 is an emerging avian influenza virus that is causing global concern as a potential pandemic threat.
  • It is often referred to simply as “bird flu” or “avian influenza”, even though it is only one of many subtypes.
  • Health experts are concerned that the coexistence of human flu viruses and avian flu viruses (especially H5N1) will provide an opportunity for genetic material to be exchanged between species-specific viruses, possibly creating a new virulent influenza strain that is easily transmissible and lethal to humans. The mortality rate for humans with H5N1 is 60%.

Prevention

  • Those at high risk include poultry farm workers, animal control workers, wildlife biologists, and ornithologists who handle live birds
  • Biosecurity of poultry flocks is important for prevention. Flocks should be isolated from outside birds, especially wild birds, and their waste; vehicles used around the flock should be regularly disinfected and not shared between farms; and birds from slaughter channels should not be returned to the farm.
  • With proper infection control and use of personal protective equipment (PPE), the chance for infection is low. Protecting the eyes, nose, mouth, and hands is important for prevention because these are the most common ways for the virus to enter the body.
  • Proper reporting of an isolated case can help to prevent spread.

Vaccines:

  • Vaccines for poultry have been formulated against several of the avian H5N1 influenza varieties.
  • Control measures for HPAI encourage mass vaccinations of poultry though The World Health Organization has compiled a list of known clinical trials of pandemic influenza prototype vaccines, including those against H5N1

Culling

  • Culling is used in order to decrease the threat of avian influenza transmission by killing potentially infected birds.
  • Zoning strategy which begins with the identification of an infected area (IA) where sick or dead birds have tested positive. All poultry in this zone are culled while the area 1 to 5 km from the outer boundary of the IA is considered the restricted area (RA) placed under strict surveillance.
  • The risk of mass culling of birds and the resulting economic impact led farmers who were reluctant to report sick poultry. The culls often preempted actual lab testing for H5N1 as avian flu policy justified sacrificing poultry as a safeguard against HPAI spread
  • Not only did culling result in severe economic impacts especially for small scale farmers, culling itself may be an ineffective preventative measure. In the short-term, mass culling achieves it goals of limiting the immediate spread of HPAI, it has been found to impede the evolution of host resistance which is important for the long-term success of HPAI control.
  • Mass culling also selects for elevated influenza virulence and results in the greater mortality of birds overall
  • Effective culling strategies must be selective as well as considerate of economic impacts to optimize epidemiological control and minimize economic and agricultural destruction.

Precautions

  • Do not eat raw or par-cooked chicken
  • Do not eat raw or semi-cooked eggs
  • Maintain hand hygiene
  • Change clothes immediately on coming into contact with poultry

For future avian influenza threats, the WHO suggests a 3 phase, 5 part plan

A. Phase: Pre-pandemic

  • Reduce opportunities for human infection
  • Strengthen the early warning system

B. Phase: Emergence of a pandemic virus

  • Contain or delay spread at the source

C. Phase: Pandemic declared and spreading internationally

  • Reduce morbidity, mortality, and social disruption
  • Conduct research to guide response measures

SMS to alert citizens on changes in land records

  • Citizens will now get an SMS alert from the Revenue department, the minute changes/mutations are incorporated in their land records.
  • The department has introduced this facility across Karnataka to check tampering of land records, which is quite rampant.
  • To avail this, property owners should register their mobile numbers along with the RTC details with the department.
  • The government land survey details are “locked,” thereby eliminating the scope for tampering

IIT-Dharwad to begin classes in July

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Dharwad, will start its academic activities in July this year by admitting 40 students each to BTech programmes in Computer Science, Mechanical, and Electronics and Communication engineering.
  • The IIT-D will start functioning at the Water and Land Management Institute (Walmi) located next to the Dharwad bench of the High Court of Karnataka on the Pune-Bengaluru national highway, until a sprawling permanent campus is developed close-by.
  • A six-member technical team of IIT-Bombay, headed by Prof Shivaprasad, visited Dharwad on Friday and inspected the facilities available at Walmi. IIT-Bombay is the mentor for IIT-Dharwad.

UAS-R, ICRISAT sign deal to aid agro startups

  • Karnataka’s University of Agricultural Sciences-Raichur signed a memorandum of agreement with the Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to set up an agribusiness incubator on the varsity campus.
  • ICRISAT will help identify and promote agribusiness startups, besides facilitating the agro-technology transfer in the North Karnataka region, which is expected to enhance the impact of outreach activities for the university.
  • Under the programme, entrepreneurs will get technical and business development support in seed production, farm machinery and food-processing domains.
  • Handholding and mentoring support for UAS-R will be provided through the co-business incubation initiative of the Agri-Business Incubation Program, which is part of the ICRISAT Agribusiness and Innovation Platform that focuses on promoting agribusiness ventures and public-private partnership initiatives.

Akashavani plans programme on uses of medicinal plants

  • Karnataka Medicinal Plants Authority, a wing of state forest department, will organise a radio programme for people of all walks of life to help them know all about medicinal plants.
  • The programme is being implemented under the guidance of Medicinal Plants Board of the Union government at a cost of Rs 20 lakh
  • People will be made aware of the types of medicinal plants, their local names, how to identify them, how to grow them at home and farms and how various plants and their parts can be used as a remedy for different ailments.
  • Those who grow medicinal plants will be provided information on companies who purchase the products. The programme will also deal with the economics of growing medicinal plants.

Govt may issue smart cards to construction workers

  • The state government is contemplating on issuing on-the-spot smart cards for construction workers after registering them with the Karnataka Building and other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board
  • The members could avail several benefits including financial assistance during hospitalisation, scholarships for children of construction workers, accident compensation to the nominee of the registered member in the event of death, marriage assistance and funds for purchase of tools and equipment, among others.

NGT asks state to clear buffer zone of lakes

  • In a landmark judgment, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi, directed the Karnataka government to demolish all existing construction falling within buffer zones of lakes and Rajakaluves (feeder canals of lakes) in Bengaluru.
  • The bench directed the government to increase the buffer zones and ensure that no further construction takes place in such areas.
  • The buffer zone of lakes has been enhanced from 30 metres to 75 metres.
  • The revised buffer zone for the Rajakaluves is 50 metres, 35 metres and 25 metres for primary, secondary and tertiary canals respectively.
  • The NGT also ordered that the buffer zone around Rajakaluves should be measured from the edge and not from the middle.
  • If implemented in toto, the order will lead to the demolition of large number of buildings all over the City and displacement of lakhs of people.
  • The ruling came in the wake of a petition by the Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) and other Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) in connection with the encroachment of the wetland of Agara and Bellandur lakes in the City by Mantri Tech Zone Private Limited and Coremind Software and Services Private Limited.
  • In view of various illegalities in the execution of a large project coming up at the ecologically sensitive wetland between Agara and Bellandur lakes, the NGT confirmed a fine of Rs 130.5 crore on Mantri Tech Zone and Coremind.
  • The NGT also quashed the environmental clearances given to the firms and stayed the construction of the project till the time the developers obtain fresh clearance
  • It has directed the developers to restore the 3 acre 10 guntas of encroached lake bed area immediately to the authorities.
  • It ordered the State Environmental Impact Assessment Agency (SEIAA) to amend the environmental clearance of both the project proponents and allow all further construction under the monitoring of SEIAA.
  • Also, the Karnataka government has been directed to submit a proposal demarcating wetlands within four weeks to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) after which the same shall be notified.
  • There is a combined direction to remove the debris deposited in the feeder canals (Rajakaluve) within four weeks, failing which Lake Development Authority (LDA) will undertake the cleaning and the cost will have to be borne by the two builders.
  • SEIAA has also been directed to prepare a muck-disposal plan within three months.

What is a buffer zone of a lake?

Buffer zones are natural vegetated area along a lake, river or stream. They are meant to provide natural filtration of these water bodies and protection against flooding or swelling of rivers, lakes and streams.

  • Buffer zones of lakes and Rajakaluves increased
  • All structures on buffer zones to be demolished
  • Buffer zone for lakes will be 75 metres
  • Buffer zones for primary, secondary and tertiary canals will be 50 m, 35 m and 25 m respectively
  • The buffer zone around Rajakaluves to be measured from edge
  • Order may lead to demolition of thousands of buildings and displacement of people
  • Fine of Rs 130.5 crore on Mantri-Coremind confirmed
  • Builders accused of encroaching on Bellandur wetland between Agara and Bellandur
  • Ruling based on Namma Bengaluru Foundation’s petition in Bellandur lake case

Flat penalties for regularising houses on revenue land

  • The state Cabinet decided to fix flat penalties for regularisation of houses constructed on revenue land in rural and urban areas.
  • Earlier, the government was planning to levy 10% and 20% of the guidance value as regularisation fee.
  • Fixing the penalty based on the guidance value of the land turned out to be beyond the means of reach of several below poverty line families for whom the regularisation scheme had been introduced
  • The cabinet, jayachandra said, decided to fix rs 2,000 as the regularisation fee for houses constructed on 20×30 ft site, rs 4,000 for sites up to a dimension of 40×60 ft and rs 4,000 for sites of dimension up to 80×50 ft.
  • For urban areas, the scheme is applicable for houses constructed on 20×30 sites for which a regularisation fee of rs 10,000 has been fixed
  • The regularisation scheme has been effected by amending sections 94c and 94 cc of the karnataka land revenue act.

Soon, drones could transport organs for transplant

  • The National Design and Research Forum (NDRF) here is working on a project that aims to transport vital organs, including the heart, to recipients faster than the traditional method
  • This could potentially revolutionise the transportation of emergency organs.
  • The new method aims to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also called as drones.
  • The drone will be designed to carry a weight of 20-25 kg with an ability to cover a distance of 100-150 km with absolute safety.
  • At the moment, organ transport is limited to the green corridor (signal-free road) method, even as there is a surge in organ transplants in India. “The organs are transported via road in a special ice box. They can also be transported in a highly specified machine — organ care system — which is extremely expensive. It is not being used in India now

A litre of pure drinking water at just Rs 10 paise

  • In order to supply pure drinking water to people in villages, the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has planned 118 drinking water units in Chamarajanagar using German technology.
  • The government has sanctioned the project under Public Private Partnership (PPP).
  • Each unit is estimated to cost Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
  • According to officials, a majority of villages in the district have not enough drinking water as many borewells have dried.

Non-cognisable offences: Forest officials get guidelines

  • The Forest Department has issued a circular to heads of its different wings on the procedure to be followed in respect of non-cognisable offences.
  • The circular also has guidelines to Range Forest Officers (RFOs) on obtaining prior permission from the judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) courts before investigation.
  • The department’s action followes a report, ‘Ignorant forest officers, weak law letting offenders off the hook’
  • The report highlighted how forest offenders in the state are going scot-free due to the ignorance of officials to book violators of the Forest Act. In most cases, the High Court was quashing the proceedings on mere technical grounds that magistrate’s permission had not been sought and this has been going on for ages.
  • The forest department in its circular, issued on April 21, 2016 has stated that many offences registered under various sections of the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963, are non-cognisable and a RFO would require permission from the jurisdictional magistrate to go ahead with the investigation.
  • As per Clause II of the First Schedule to the Code of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973, an offence punishable with imprisonment for less than three years or with fine only is a non-cognisable offence.
  • About amending the Forest Act, the forest department is trying to collect the amendments made in other states and hold a meeting with Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai to discuss possibilities and table the Forest Act Amendment Bill in the next Legislature session
  • Bihar and Andhra Pradesh have already amended their Forest Act and have made the offences cognisable, enabling RFOs to book and investigate the case directly without having to get permission from the magistrate.

Barcoded coupons to help check flaws in PDS

  • The Karnataka food and civil supplies department has launched a pilot project of providing biometrics-based barcoded coupons to beneficiaries to keep track of commodities provided through the public distribution system (PDS).
  • To begin with, coupons are being provided for procuring kerosene at select 50 fair price shops in Bengaluru. It will be extended to food grains and other commodities
  • The plan is to extend it to the entire state after refining the model in three to four months.
  • The barcoded coupons can be procured by the beneficiary by providing his/her biometrics at the nearest bengaluruone centre or other citizen-centric service kiosks.
  • Under the authentication process, the biometrics will be matched with the department’s centralised database server and a barcoded coupon will be generated. The printouts of the coupon will be provided at the kiosks.
  • The coupon will have details on the quantum of ration that can be received by the beneficiaries and the amount to be charged. The beneficiary will have to furnish the coupon at the fair price shop to get the ration
  • The new system is being put in place following poor response to the department’s proposal of making multi-utility hand-held devices (point-of-sales machines) mandatory at fair price shops across the state to usher in accountability and check irregularities in the PDS.
  • The point-of-sales devices were to keep track of transactions at fair price shops and were to have scanners to capture the biometrics of beneficiaries, print bills and send stock details to the central server of the department.
  • Under the coupon system, there is no need of having the machines at the shops, but still the authentication process can happen. The officer said the department is contemplating providing coupons for three to four months at one go so that the beneficiary need not make multiple visits to kiosks.
  • The department is also working on sending the coupon number via SMS to the beneficiary on a registered mobile number.

In country’s first, KSRTC to instal panic buttons in buses

  • Karnataka will be the first state in the country to provide panic buttons on its state transport buses for use by women in case of emergency.
  • The facility, which will be available on Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses plying in and around Bengaluru, is among many measures for women’s safety that the corporation will take
  • The other features include closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) and GPS units, which will be installed on more than 2,000 buses to give passengers a sense on security while travelling on state-owned buses.
  • These initiatives will soon be a reality once the Centre releases funds to KSRTC under the Nirbhaya fund.

Mahadayi tribunal agrees for early hearing of water dispute

  • The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal headed by Justice J M Panchal agreed to expedite the hearing of the water dispute among Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.
  • Karnataka, in its original application, had sought 24.1 tmc feet of water from Mahadayi basin of which 7.5 tmc feet is meant for drinking water in Malaprabha basin area – mainly Hubballi-Dharwad and nearby towns; 7 tmc feet for irrigation; 5 tmc feet for hydro electric generation and 1.5 tmc feet for drinking water to Khanapur in Belagavi district.
  • In its interim application, Karnataka had sought permission to draw 7.5 tmc feet of water for Malaprabha basin, till the resolution of the dispute.
  • Last week, the Tribunal had expressed its unhappiness against Karnataka over its (Karnataka’s) letter seeking early hearing of water dispute. The letter had cited the hearing dates of Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal.
  • Apparently upset at comparing the Mahadayi tribunal with the functions of Krishna tribunal, the members of Mahadayi tribunal had returned Karnataka’s letter.
  • Following this incident, Karnataka filed fresh application before the Tribunal on April 30 seeking early hearing, and which was accepted by it.
  • In 2002, the Centre gave clearance to Karnataka to divert 7.5 tmc feet of water from Mahadayi by building barrages across Kalasa and Banduri, (two tributaries of Mahadayi) and supply water to Malaprabha river.
  • The river provides drinking water to Hubballi-Dharwad cities and Belagavi and Gadag districts
  • However, the project was stalled after Goa raised objections saying that it would lead to drying up of its lifeline Mandovi river – called as Mahadayi in Karnataka.
  • The Ministry of Water Resources constituted the tribunal to resolve the issue in 2010.

High Court initiates novel ‘pre-trial conference’

  • The High Court of Karnataka has come out with the concept of holding a “pre-trial conference” to ensure conduct of day-to-day trial in all criminal cases without unnecessary adjournments.
  • Also, a series of guidelines have been issued to courts for speedy conclusion of trial.
  • Justice A.V. Chandrashekara, in his landmark verdict, said judges conducting the trial should hold a pre-trial conference involving the public prosecutor, accused and their advocates, and the police officers concerned before fixing dates for various stages of trial.
  • The High Court also told judges conducting the trial to ensure that prosecution witnesses are available on the specified dates, and to visualise the obstacles that may crop up during the day-to-day proceedings and to take necessary measures before fixing the dates.
  • The trial courts will also have to access the need for assistance from translators in advance and keep the translator ready before fixing the date for witnesses, who are not conversant with local language or English.
  • On the other hand, the High Court said that public prosecutors should come out with a thorough preparation for trial and intimate the court about the list of witnesses, dates on which they would be examined, and approximate time required for examining the witnesses.
  • If judges go on leave for compelling reasons on the dates fixed for trial, all the witnesses must be duly intimated in advance
  • The court also issued direction to the trial court to ensure that the witnesses are paid travel and dearness allowances on the same day. In case of non-availability of fund on that day, the allowances should be sent to the witnesses at the earliest.