STATE NEWS MARCH 2017

IMD urges govt to encourage farmers to register on portal

  • The officials of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday met the state government officials and urged them to speed up the process of making farmers register on M-Kisan portal.
  • Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had written to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on January 5 urging him to draw farmers to register on the the portal (which was launched in 2013 to disseminate accurate and regular weather updates to all Indian farmers).
  • The IMD officials said that there has been no response to the letter from the state government so far.
  • Registering farmers to the portal is the need of the hour, especially in wake of the changing weather conditions.
  • The IMD aims to register the farmers before the onset of monsoon, so that they can get the maximum benefit of this. Vijay Bhaskar said that he would look into the matter and ask the officials to reach out to the farmers.

How does the portal works?

  • The portal plays a vital role in communicating with the farmers.
  • Everyday the head and regional IMD offices get calls seeking weather details.
  • The number of calls increase during monsoon and pre-monsoon season, when weather is changing.
  • But once farmers are registered on the portal, they will get periodic weather updates which include maximum and minimum temperatures, rainfall details and warning alerts.
  • The portal is being managed by IMD-Pune office

Step taken by Minister

  • The ministry has asked the state government to actively involve its 10 agro climatic zone units (the agro- meteorological field units) of Karnataka.
  • The IMD has also sent letters to agricultural universities of Bengaluru, Raichur, Dharwad and other districts asking them to reach out to farmers and urge them to register on the portal.

IMD Open Day

  • The Open Day at IMD, Bengaluru, received a good response.
  • A team of around 90 people (doctors, patients and others associated) from Nimhans visited the IMD head office on the occasion of World Science day.
  • Metri said that they took keen interest to learn how weather is recorded

Finally Karnataka government scraps Bengaluru steel flyover project

  • The state-run Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) on 2nd March said that it has called off the plan to construct the controversial steel flyover bridge in Bengaluru.
  • The proposed 6.9 km six-lane steel bridge from Chalukya circle to Hebbal in Bengaluru drew widespread criticism as the project would result in axing about 800 trees and causing ecological damage to the garden city.
  • The BDA has now decided not to construct the steel flyover.
  • Several Congress legislators including Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) working president Dinesh Gundu Rao had mounted pressure on Bengaluru in charge minister to drop the controversial steel bridge project as it was tarnishing the image of the government.
  • The Karnataka cabinet on September 28 awarded the Rs 1,761-crore project to L&T Ltd as the lowest bidder ignoring protests against it, which, if allowed, will result in axing about 800 trees and causing ecological damage to the garden city.
  • Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, had defended the steel flyover and claimed the project was proposed in 2010 and announced in the 2014-15 budget.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party leader BS Yeddyurappa had accused Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of taking Rs 150 crore as kickback for sanctioning the controversial steel flyover.
  • The six-lane 6.9-km steel flyover was supposed to pass through Basaveshwara Circle, High Grounds, Windsor Manor, Cauvery junction, Mehkri Circle, Sanjaynagar and connect Hebbal flyover.
  • The Tribunal bench, headed by Justice M. Chokalingam and expert member P.S. Rao, passed an interim order, restraining the state government from going ahead with the project till the petitioners’ concerns were heard and addressed.
  • Neither the state government nor BDA considered alternative routes, no study was done to confirm if the steel bridge was the best option, no permission was taken to cut 800 trees and no public hearings were conducted before awarding the project to a private firm,” claimed the petitioners then.

System down on day one of RTE online application process

What is RTE?

  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act’ or ‘Right to Education Actalso known as RTE’, is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution.
  • India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the act came into force on 1 April 2010.
  • The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’. ‘Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  • It requires all private schools(except the minority institutions) to reserve 25% of seats for the poor and other categories of children (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan).
  • Children are admitted in to private schools based on caste-based reservations.
  • It also prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission.
  • The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education.
  • There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.
  • The RTE act requires surveys that will monitor all neighbourhoods, identify children requiring education, and set up facilities for providing it.

Why in news?

  • Several parents who were pinning their hopes on bagging seats in private schools for their children under the RTE quota for the academic year 2017–18 were disappointed on 1st March as they were unable to submit their online applications owing to technical reasons and server problems.
  • The application process began on 1st March and parents have time till March 31.

Kodagu chosen for pilot study of National Forest Monitoring System

  • Forest Survey of India (FSI) has chosen Kodagu in Karnataka to implement the theoretical model of the National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS).
  • E Vikram, deputy director, FSI, Deharadun on 2nd March said the draft modules prepared by FSI under the NFMS include checking the tree cover, growing stock, carbon footprint, soil erosion and capacity building.
  • They have chosen one hectare of land in Kodagu for the year long study.
  • The report will be submitted to the Ministry of Environmental and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). After which it will replicated in all the nodal states and then across India.
  • Six nodal states chosen by FSI for the project are Karnataka, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Meghalaya.
  • To have a robust NFMS, the FSI has initiated a technical cooperation programme for strengthening national forest inventory and monitoring protocols and capacities in the country under the overall guidance of the MoEFCC.
  • The technology to assess and issue alerts of forest fire has received good response from forest officials across the country.
  • The fire alert system was started in February by FSI. Within a month, 10,500 forest officials from across the country have registered to receive alerts.
  • Officials from Karnataka state forest department inquired about how could the data be made more specific, explaining the acreage and intensity.
  • Vikram said they were working with NASA to get information on the intensity of the fire, how high or low it is. This will take some time to materialise.
  • Director General, FSI, urged all state government officials to register with FSI for fire data. Only around 300 officers from Karnataka have registered for the forest alert system so far.

Karnataka State will not denotify fruits & vegetables

  • The state government has decided to adhere to its stand and not denotify fruits and vegetables from the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (Regulation and Development) Act, despite the Centre aggressively pushing for agri-market reforms.

What was the notification?

  • As many as 21 fruits and eight vegetables, including apple, orange, banana, potato, onion and tomato, are notified under the KAPMC Act, 1966.
  • The Act makes it mandatory for farmers to sell their produce only to the licensed merchants at the mandis of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) by paying the commission and other charges.
  • Denotification of fruits and vegetables, according to the Centre, will put an end to a chain of commission agents between the farmers and the consumers, creating a win-win situation for both.
  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a strong pitch for the denotification and promoting contract farming in his 2017-18 Budget presented recently.

Karnataka Government

  • But the Karnataka government holds a different view. “We have no intention to denotify perishables (from the Act).
  • Even now the farmers are free to sell their produce directly to consumers anywhere, including APMC yards.
  • Moreover, the government will not be in a position to intervene and provide justice to the farmers if the traders refuse to pay judicious price
  • As per the Department of Agriculture Marketing, cost to the supply chain due to handling of fruits and vegetables at APMCs is only 6% of the total cost of the produce.
  • Cost of supply chain include 5% commission and 1% hamali and other handling cost. This cost will be significantly higher in unorganised sector due to involvement of middlemen at multiple levels.
  • Interestingly, the ruling Congress has refused to denotify perishables despite directions from the party vice president Rahul Gandhi to all the Congress-ruled state governments in 2014. Instead, the Karnataka government exempted levy of market fee on farmers (1.5% on fruits and 1% on vegetables) and made a provision for retail sales at APMC yards.
  • Chairman of Food Processing Committee of Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industries Bharat Shah said APMCs help farmers get competitive price to their produce due to the involvement of large number of traders.
  • Besides, the farmers will get necessary logistical support such as storage place at APMCs.
  • As far as consumers are concerned, prices of fruits and vegetables are normally the lowest at APMCs compared to other places, he added, opposing the move to denotify perishables.

Karnataka: Boeing in talks with govt to set up manufacturing facility

  • In a development that gives a big boost to the aviation industry in Karnataka, aerospace major Boeing is holding talks with the state government on setting up a new aircraft manufacturing facility near Bengaluru.
  • Top officials of the state government held discussions with representatives of Boeing recently.
  • Availability of land close to Bengaluru, tax incentives and special packages the government can offer to the company were discussed. But nothing has been finalised yet, nor has the company submitted a formal proposal to the government on its investment plans.
  • The company has plans to set up a new manufacturing facility near Bengaluru. Talks are still in preliminary stages
  • A few months ago, the US aircraft manufacturer had revealed that it was keen on investing in a new futuristic Indian factory under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • The company had said that it wants to create an entire aviation ecosystem for building its fighter aircraft, F/A-18 Super Hornet.
  • The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twin-engine, supersonic, multirole fighter jet capable of landing and taking off from an aircraft carrier.
  • But it is not clear whether the company is holding talks with the state government on establishing the factory near Bengaluru.

Andhra Pradesh in the race?

  • The neighbouring Andhra Pradesh is also wooing Boeing to invest there.
  • Andhra Pradesh has been aggressive in attracting investments. But, the Karnataka government is not lagging behind in this regard.
  • Karnataka has an edge over other states as Bengaluru is an aviation hub.
  • One of the reasons for the state government to hurriedly approve a proposal to relax land allotment rules for industrial purposes, is to compete with Andhra Pradesh in attracting Boeing.
  • Projects coming in single unit complex bracket will get land on lease-cum-sale basis and absolute sale deed for the land will be issued to the investor after 15 years, as per the government’s decision.
  • Hitherto, land for industrial purposes was given only on 99 years lease. The Andhra Pradesh government has already simplified its land allotment rules.

Centre irked by slow progress of rural drinking water projects

  • Union Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation Ramesh Jigajinagi on 3rd March expressed unhappiness over the Karnataka government for tardy progress in execution of rural drinking water programme despite the state reeling under severe drought.
  • The Ministry of Rural Drinking Water and Sanitation has released Rs 421 crore to Karnataka for the year 2016-17 for providing drinking water to 14,442 rural habitations.
  • However, the state government had spent only Rs 167 crore (39.61% of total sanctioned amount) and provided water supply to just 8,955 habitations till now
  • With just 28 days left for completion of the current financial year, when will the state government utilise the remaining money to provide water to the parched areas?,” Jigajinagi, who is MP from Vijayapura, said.
  • He said that though the Centre sanctioned Rs 110 crore to provide water to 72 villages in Indi taluk in Vijayapura district three years ago, till now the project has not been implemented.
  • Considering the severity of drinking water crisis in Karnataka due to unprecedented drought, the Centre is ready to help the state by sanctioning more funds, he said, adding that the state government should prepare itself to avail of the benefit.
  • Of the total 60,248 habitations in the state, 27,638 habitations are getting water and 30,722 partially. As many as 1,860 habitations have been identified to be having water with fluoride and arsenic contents.

What will the centre provide?

  • As per the 12th Five Year Plan, the Centre targeted to provide 70 litres of water per person per day by 2022 in rural areas.
  • For implementing the rural drinking water programme, the Centre will provide 50% of the cost of the project while remaining expenditure will have be borne by the state government.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to provide piped drinking water to 90% of the villages in the country by 2022. The state government’s co-operation is required for the success of the project, Jigajinagi said

12 acres of Kappatagudda forest destroyed in fire

  • The fire that broke out in the Kappatagudda foothills between Bidnal and Virapapur Lambani tandas on 3rd March night, has been completely doused.
  • Fire and Emergency Services personnel, police, Forest department staff and residents of Lambani tandas, joined hands in the operation that lasted for one-and-a-half hours and brought the situation under control.
  • Patrolling in the hills has been increased and the forest guards have been instructed to keep a vigil in the area.
  • Deputy Conservator of Forests Yashpal Ksheersagar, said that the Forest department staff spotted three persons arriving on a bike and setting dried grass blades afire.
  • The patrolling staff could not identify the miscreants since it was dusk. A complaint has been lodged with the police. “At least 12 acres of forest area has been charred.
  • Rare medicinal plants have been destroyed and possibilities of wild animals being killed, cannot be ruled out. A survey of the damages will be conducted

Anekadu 700 acres of forest gutted in fire

  • The fire that ravaged Anekadu reserve forest and Kallur Hill in Kodagu district for two days since 2nd March, has destroyed 700 acres of forest.
  • According to Range Forest Officer (RFO) Ranjan, wildlife, including birds and animals, have been charred at places, while lantana, grass and different species of plants and trees have also been destroyed.
  • Though the fire came under control by 4th March morning, chances of it recurring cannot be ruled out with smoke billowing at a few places inside the forest. Fire personnel are hence camping at the spot.
  • A total of 700 acres of forest have been destroyed. The heat generated by the fire has hampered firefighting

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme yet to see the light in Karnataka

  • Ten months since the launch of the Centre’s much publicised Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), thousands of families living below the poverty line (BPL) across the State are still depending on kerosene and firewood for cooking, as the project is yet to be implemented here.
  • The scheme was launched on May 1, 2016 with the aim of providing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to 5 crore BPL households, identified based on the 2011 socio-economic caste census.
  • This delay is despite Karnataka being the only State that has voluntarily come forward to improve the scheme by sharing the cost.
  • The Centre is not implementing the scheme even though memorandums have been submitted, said officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department.
  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has also written to Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan to implement the scheme.
  • Some officials attributed this delay to Karnataka being a Congress-ruled State. Oil marketing companies have received applications from 2,12,444 (up to January 31) families.
  • Over 80,000 people across the State have given up their LPG subsidy to help people from BPL families to get benefits of the PMUY, in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘GiveItUp’ campaign.
  • “The implementation of the scheme will help achieve the kerosene-free Karnataka goal,” Harsh Gupta, Secretary, Department of Food and Civil Supplies.
  • Currently, the PMUY has been launched in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • As per PMUY, beneficiaries have to purchase stove, lighter and pipe as the scheme provides just the connection with a LPG cylinder. But the Karnataka government has decided to improve it by providing the second cylinder, a double-burner stove and other materials free of cost.

The world’s largest solar park is shaping up in Karnataka

Karnataka govt aims to generate by 2018-end around 2700 MW from the Pavagada solar park, in a region that has seen 54 droughts in the last 60 years

Pavagada

  • Pavagada less than 200 km from Bengaluru, the region is part of a large semi-arid tract in eastern Karnataka’s border district of Tumkur, which sits on an elevated plateau with several rocky hills all around. The state government has had to declare the region drought-hit 54 times in the last 60 years.
  • The bone-dry region may be a bane for farmers, but could be a godsend for the state government which wants to experiment with something big build what it claims is the world’s largest solar park.

The Aim

  • The aim is to generate around 2700 megawatts (MW) from the Pavagada solar park by the end of 2018.
  • The idea resonates with the centre’s ambitious scheme to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2020.

How it started?

  • Work has begun in right earnest on the project. Roads now cut through the vast expanse of sand.
  • Scores of workers in hard hats and covered in dust are at work, putting up substations and power lines.
  • The first phase capacity of 500MW has been bid out and generation is expected to start in the next four months.

KSPDCL & how does it works?

  • The park’s development is anchored by the Karnataka Solar Power Development Corp. Ltd (KSPDCL), an entity formed in March 2015 as a joint venture between Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL) and Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI).
  • KSPDCL uses the “plug and play” model, under which it acquires and develops land as blocks for solar power generation, embedded with the required government approvals, and gives it out to solar power developers (SPDs) through auctions.
  • So far, plot allocation has been completed for 600 MW capacity. Six SPDs—Yarrow Infrastructure, Parampujya Solar Energy Pvt. Ltd, FortumFinnsurya Energy Pvt. Ltd, ACME Solar Holdings Pvt. Ltd, Tata Power Renewable Energy Ltd and Renew Power—have taken over land and commenced work.
  • The rest of the plots are in various stages of tendering.
  • The SPDs have, in turn, signed power purchase agreements with electricity supply companies or escoms. The agreements are drafted in such a way that the escoms get 90% of the power generated from the park, at a bundled tariff ranging between Rs3.50 and Rs4.50 a unit.

Land Acquisition

  • KSPDCL has managed to acquire 12,000 acres of the 13,000 acres identified for the project, spread across five villages in Pavagada.
  • Land acquisition is a major challenge for any big project in India; especially for solar as around five acres of land is needed for 1 MW
  • V. Balram, managing director of Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL) and a Pavagada native, said that the credit for the smooth acquisition should go to the unique model deployed: the government did not acquire the land from farmers; it just sought to lease it for 25 years.

Farmers

  • Although farmers were emotionally attached to the land, they were happy to hand it over to a project if they could retain ownership.
  • Farmers have so far not had an issue with the compensation amount—Rs21,000 per acre as lease, with a 5% appreciation every two years.
  • Farmers have come to realise that it’s better if they don’t cultivate (the land) as most of the time they don’t get enough rains to sustain the crops and invariably there is crop loss,

Are the farmers happy?

  • Not everyone is happy, villagers were upset with the government for not assuring power supply and jobs for them. Apparently, neighbours of what is touted as world’s largest solar power project are powerless.
  • Electricity is available for about three hours a day, though the voltage is too low to pump groundwater, complained many villagers.
  • State energy minister D.K. Shivakumar says that these issues will be looked at.
  • This taluk witnesses around 8,000-10,000 people leaving their villages to go work in Bengaluru and other places.
  • The government will make investments of over Rs15,000 crore in the region which will help create jobs.

Karnataka: CM launches ‘Pratibimba’ website to project achievements

  • Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah launched a comprehensive web-based platform showcasing the government’s performance and achievements to the citizens.
  • Developed as the Chief Minister’s dash board, ‘Pratibimba,’ which means reflection, will serve as a tool to improve efficiency in governance and allow citizens to track government’s progress.
  • ‘Pratibimba” is a reflection of the growth story and development of the state, and the dash board will reflect the works of all the departments across flagship schemes, key programmes and projects undertaken in the state.
  • The dash board is available both in English and Kannada. Karnataka is the second state in the country after Andhra Pradesh to have such a dash board.
  • Siddaramaiah said that Pratibimba will help people across the state and the country to get a detailed information regarding the steps taken by us in fulfilling our promise of transparent,responsible and people friendly government.
  • Officials said the dash board tools will help report, track and measure departmental performance on programmes, projects and promises made, which will enable departments to become more transparent, accountable and efficient.
  • Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, L K Atheeq saidthe information on the dash board will be updated on 10th of every month.
  • The chief minister’s attempt to connect with the citizens comes amid criticism of non-performance, delays in file clearances and corruption allegations against the Congress government in the state which goes to polls next year.
  • The dash board was supposed to be launched much earlier, but got delayed, the Chief Minister said it will provide information on flagship schemes, key programmes and projects to people at their finger tip.
  • He said, “We are accountable to people of Karnataka as it is they who have voted us to form the government, and this is one of the ways of showing our accountability.”
  • Officials said ‘Pratibimba’ has been envisioned with the intention to be expanded and diversified to include many otheraspects like evaluation of district level performance, integration of many solutions on a single dashboard platform and feedback mechanism for citizens.

Karnataka – Revised TDR notified; to be twice property value

  • The state government has notified the rules for implementing the revised scheme, which envisages acquisition of land for infrastructure projects.
  • Under the revised scheme, two times the value of the land to be acquired will be given as the TDR.
  • Value of TDR under the old scheme that was implemented only in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits was 1.5 times.

Monetary Compensation

  • Property losers will have an option either to accept the TDR or seek monetary compensation, which will be fixed as per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (Central Act) under the new scheme. Urban development authorities of these cities will have the power to issue TDR, according to the final notification on March 4, 2017.
  • The government has to merge old TDRs issued by BBMP till 2015 in the new scheme.
  • The rules notified under the new scheme will apply to old TDRs also. The government suspended the old TDR scheme following complaints of its rampant misuse.
  • BBMP had issued about 15 lakh sqm of TDR under the old scheme. Bangalore Development Authority will collect details of old TDRs from BBMP, verify their authenticity and enter them in a separate register, according to the notification.
  • Sources in the government said the Urban Development Department had proposed to offer an additional Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 1.33, over and above permissible FAR as per zoning rules, to those who have the old TDR.
  • But Department of Parliamentary Affairs and Legislation had objected to the proposal saying there was no provision for giving incentives under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act, 2015.
  • Unlike the old scheme, TDR under the new scheme is linked to the guidance value of land (also called the government value).
  • This, town planning experts say, will prevent misuse of the scheme. Besides, the government has relaxed the setback rules for utilising TDRs to build additional floors on existing buildings. But TDR is not permissible if the plot is on a road less than 9 metres were.

As per Experts

  • Town planning officials are skeptical about the effectiveness of the revised scheme.
  • Of the 15 lakh sq m of TDR issued by BBMP under the old scheme, around 10 lakh sq m has not been used yet.
  • With huge amount of TDRs already available in the market, it is unlikely that there will be demand for fresh TDRs, the officials said. As a result, property losers may seek monetary compensation instead of TDR.
  • This would defeat the objective of the scheme.

Why was TDR introduced?

  • TDR was introduced since urban local bodies were unable to pay monetary compensation for land acquisition
  • Besides the existing permissible FAR limit in Bengaluru is very high.
  • An 18-member expert committee formed to draft the revised TDR scheme had recommended reduction of permissible FAR from 3.25 to 2 in order to create a demand for TDR. But the government has not taken any measure in this regard.

Yeramarus Thermal Power Station first unit fit for commercial production

  • The first unit of the Yeramarus Thermal Power Station (YTPS) has successfully completed the trial run by generating power continuously for 72 hours.
  • The first generating unit of the newly set up Yermarus Thermal Power Station (YTPS) on 8th March achieved a milestone by being ready to commence commercial operation.
  • The unit with a capacity of 800 MW will begin generation as soon as the station gets coal linkage.
  • The power station requires 22,000 tonnes of coal a day. Officials are making efforts to get coal allocation at the earliest.
  • Remaining infrastructure such as ash-handling facility and railway siding would also have to be established before the unit could begin commercial generation.
  • The readiness for commercial operation was announced after the first unit generated at a capacity of 813.2 MW for 72 hours from 10.56 p.m. on March 4 to 10.56 p.m. on March 7 as part of various tests involved in the process.
  • The YTPS, which has come up on 1,126 acres of land on the outskirts of Raichur, has used super critical technology which not only increases the operational efficiency but also reduces heat rate.
  • Kumar Naik, managing director, Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd., told that this was the third power station in the country after Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh stations that had adopted such a technology.
  • Naik, while congratulating the officials who worked on the project, said the second unit with 800 MW capacity would also begin commercial generation at the earliest.

The Station

  • The high-tech machinery used at the station would increase the operational efficiency by 9%.
  • The heat rate of the machines was below 8% compared with other units.
  • The coal consumption would automatically get reduced if the heat rate was low, he added.
  • As many 320 men are required to generate 800 MW of power every day.
  • Suitable employment was being provided to those who had lost their land for the power station.
  • Of the 259 land-losers, 142 had applied for jobs. Of them, 78 applicants had been offered jobs and the remaining applications were under verification, he added.

 

New online system launched for Non-Resident Taxpayers

  • The International Tax Wing of the Income Tax Department, Bengaluru, on 8th March launched two online services aimed to help non-resident taxpayers.
  • The services include issuance of TDS certificates for non-resident taxpayers and for issuing of NoC to non-resident ships and their agents.
  • These services will help non-resident taxpayers file their applications for TDS online besides tracking their status.
  • The facility may also be used by a company which makes payment to its employees abroad.
  • Resident companies planning to make payments to parties outside the country could also use the online facility.
  • The other online application process facility launched pertains to the issue of NoC to non-resident ships and their agents.
  • Every cargo ship leaving any port in India requires an NoC certificate issued by the I-T Department assessing officer stationed in the port city.
  • The online system allows ships or agents to upload applications online.
  • This will be a one-time measure and applies for every voyage separately.
  • The application can be filed before the ship is anchored in any port in Karnataka, Goa and Kerala region, Mangaluru, Kochi and Panaji,” an official said adding that in both the online systems, any required document can be scanned and uploaded.
  • The online windows for both the services can be accessed at the website – http://www.incometaxbengaluru.in

Karnataka among 7 states selected for groundwater project

  • Karnataka is among seven states selected by the Union Water Resources Ministry for the World Bank-aided National Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme (NGMIS) on a pilot basis.
  • Facing a sharp decline in groundwater level in many parts of the country due to over exploitation of existing resources, the Centre has proposed a new World Bank-backed Rs 6,000 crore scheme to manage groundwater resources in India.
  • Half of the total cost of the scheme, called National Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme (NGMIS), will be supported by the World Bank as loan while the remaining half (Rs 3,000 crore) will be funded by the government through budgetary support.
  • Through the NGMIS will be implemented across the country, special focus will be on states having ‘dark’ (over-exploited) zones where the withdrawal of water is more than the recharge.
  • The ministry selected Karnataka, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh based on an alarming drop in the groundwater table due to over exploitation.
  • NGMIS envisages sustainable groundwater management with people’s participation
  • The entire project costs around Rs 6,000 crore and will be implemented over a period of six years.
  • The seven states identified for the project represent 25% of the over-exploited blocks in the country.
  • According to the ministry, in India, 245 billion cubic metres of groundwater is drawn every year.
  • This represents about 25% of the total global groundwater drawn.
  • With the over 80% of rural and urban domestic water supplies in India depending on groundwater, the government is working on its better management for socioeconomic development
  • As part of its efforts to rejuvenate water sources, the ministry has already started mapping ground water where there is highest exploitation.
  • The mapping also helps understand sustainability of drawing groundwater and its contamination.

Karnataka: Vijayapura wins best district hospital award

  • The Vijayapura district hospital has emerged the best district hospital in Karnataka and won a cash prize of Rs 50 lakh for the second straight year under the Health Department’s Kayakalp 2016-17 programme.
  • McGann Hospital, Shivamogga, finished runner-up and received a cash prize of Rs 20 lakh.
  • The commendation awards of Rs 3 lakh each have gone to Vanivilas Hospital, Bengaluru, district hospital, Tumakuru, district hospital, Kolar, and Wenlock district hospital, Mangaluru.

Best Taluk Hospital Award

  • The best taluk hospital award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh, went to Community Health Centre (CHC), Moodabidri, Dakshina Kannada district, while the CHC in Vijayapura, Bengaluru Rural district, finished runner-up and received Rs 10 lakh.
  • Twenty-one taluk hospitals /CHCs received commendation awards of Rs 1 lakh each.
  • Besides, in each district, one primary health centre (PHC) was identified for the best PHC award which carries a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh.
  • Commendation awards of Rs 50,000 were given away to 44 PHCs in various districts.
  • The awards were given away by Health Commissioner Subodh Yadav at a ceremony at Vikasa Soudha on 10th March.
  • The awards were instituted to assess the performance of healthcare facilities on such parameters as sanitation and hygiene, infection control, hospital upkeep and waste management.
  • Community participation assessment was done sequentially through a three-tier system.

Karnataka: 3-day national organic, millet fair in B’luru from April 28

  • To strengthen Karnataka and Bengaluru as organic hubs for both farmers and marketers, the state government will hold a first-of-its kind ‘National Trade Fair – Organics and Millets-2017’ from April 28-30 in the city.
  • Addressing a gathering at a curtain-raiser of the fair, Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda​ said, “Farmers find it difficult to market their organic produce and don’t get connected to marketers despite the demand for organic produce.
  • The fair aims to bridge that gap between marketers and farmers and we want to hold it every two years.” He said that the government wants to revive millet cultivation in the state and is working towards it.
  • About Rs 180 crore has been spent over the last four years for organising awareness programmes, farmer meets and workshops on organic products.
  • The conference, whose theme is ‘Organics beyond agriculture and improving access to markets,’ will bring together all stakeholders, policy makers, government and non-government bodies.
  • Hosted by the Agriculture Department in association with International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture, the fair will take place at Palace Grounds.
  • For details, visit www.organics-millets.in. Gowda said that desi foods such as millet are in no way inferior to super foods from other countries and exhorted people to consume them.

K’taka: State govt’s debt stock mounts to whopping Rs 2L cr

  • The State government has borrowed Rs 90,000 crore during the last four years.
  • The total debt stock in 2012-13, when the present Congress government came to power, stood at Rs 1.18 lakh crore and will touch Rs 2.08 lakh crore when Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who also holds the finance portfolio, presents the budget proposals for 2017-18.
  • The details about the borrowings of the state government over the years have been hosted on the website of Reserve Bank of India.
  • As leader of the Opposition, Siddaramaiah had criticised the borrowing spree of the then BJP government stating that the financial health of the state was taking a beating.
  • The BJP government (2008-2013), on an average, borrowed Rs 12,000 crore per annum. However, the RBI data reveals the quantum of borrowings has increased during the present government’s tenure.
  • Presenting his first budget in July 2013, in the present dispensation, Siddaramaiah had said that the previous government had taken steps to improve tax collection, prevent leakages and stop evasion, then certainly our revenues would have been higher.
  • As a consequence, dependence on borrowings would have come down. As you are aware presently, loans and borrowings are costly and availing such loans would place a huge debt burden on future generations.
  • The total public debt when Siddaramaiah was deputy chief minister and had also held the finance portfolio in 2005-06 stood at Rs 56,027 crore. In 2007, it mounted to Rs 63,844 crore and in 2016-17 it has crossed the dubious landmark of Rs 2 lakh crore.
  • According to officers of the finance department, the total liabilities of the state government is within limits as it is below 25% of the Gross State Domestic Product as stipulated in the Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Karnataka Government’s spending on infrastructure comes down

  • The Karnataka government’s spending on infrastructure development, also called capital expenditure, has declined over the years, mainly on account of shrinking revenue surplus position and slackness in tax efforts.
  • The capital expenditure as a percentage of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) has decreased from 4% in 2011-12 to 3% in 2015-16.
  • This has forced the government to heavily depend on borrowings to meet the capital expenditure needs – the total outstanding liabilities of the state, as a result, is set to cross a staggering Rs 2 lakh crore by the end of the current fiscal year.
  • As per the documents obtained from the Finance department, the revenue surplus position has shrunk since 2013-14 – from Rs 1,595 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 522 crore in 2016-17 fiscal.
  • The Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act mandates the government to cut down wasteful and unwarranted expenditure and invest more on infrastructure development such as power generation and building roads.
  • The government is supposed to maintain capital expenditure of 5% against the GSDP, as per the recommendation of Expenditure Reforms Commission (ERC) headed by former chief secretary B K Bhattacharya.
  • Even during fiscally stressful years, enhanced capital expenditure is required for ensuring growth and resultant buoyancy in future tax receipts; and the expenditure on education, Health, Nutrition, and Rural Water Supply and Sanitation etc, has to be protected on equity considerations.
  • The government has implemented most of the ERC’s recommendations.
  • The Siddaramaiah government has not been able to save much and increase the surplus position due to splurging on subsidy schemes, mainly Bhagya schemes – expenditure on various subsidies has almost doubled since 2013-14.
  • The subsidy expenditure is expected to grow further as the chief minister has already announced to increase the quantum of food grains per person per month under Anna Bhagya from April 1 this year.Siddaramaiah also holds the finance portfolio in his government.

Tax efforts

  • Documents reveal slackness in tax effort on part of the government since 2013-14.
  • The government has not been able to further widen the tax base and bring in efficiency in tax collection.
  • This is evident with decline in the tax to GSDP ratio – 10.41 % in 2013-14 to 10.27 in 2015-16.
  • The challenge for the state would be to ensure maintaining a high tax effort to garner adequate resources to meet expenditure requirements of critical sectors

Karnataka: Govt deposits input subsidy into drought-hit farmers’ accounts

  • The government on 14th March took measures to deposit Rs 671 crore to bank accounts of 9.68 lakh drought-hit farmers as input subsidy released by the Centre.
  • The money will be deposited simultaneously through RTGS.
  • The Revenue department, with the assistance of Bhoomi monitoring cell, has developed an exclusive software ‘Parihara’ for this purpose. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah launched the software.
  • Of the Rs 1,782 crore sanctioned by the Centre as input subsidy to be disbursed among farmers affected due to crop loss in the kharif season, only Rs 450 crore has been released.
  • The state government has, therefore, added Rs 221 crore from its own resources for disbursing the amount among the farmers in the first phase.
  • All the other affected farmers will get the subsidy soon after Centre releases the remaining Rs 2,332 crore

Karnataka: CM to present State Budget today (15th March)

  • A 10-day session of the State legislature will commence on Wednesday with the presentation of the 2017-18 State Budget.
  • Siddaramaiah, who will present his fifth budget as Chief Minister, is presenting his record 12th budget as the Finance Minister of the State.
  • He will present the budget in the Legislative Assembly at 11.30 a.m.
  • The budget is expected to focus on strengthening and expanding several populist schemes, with elections to the Assembly slated to be held next year.
  • Siddaramaiah’s 12th budget and the fourth of this government is being seen as a poll budget ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections.
  • Carrying the responsibility of retaining power in the only major state in the country where the Congress is in power
  • Siddaramaiah is said to have something for every caste and class, departing from his previous budgets which had a distinct AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and dalits) flavour.

Karnataka:Latecomers to Assembly to lose day’s allowance

  • Legislative Assembly Speaker K.B. Koliwad has cracked the whip on errant legislators and said that members will lose their daily allowance if they come late to the sessions.
  • Koliwad said the new rule has been introduced from this budget session to make it mandatory for every member to sign the attendance register both in the morning and evening within an hour of commencement of the session.
  • Members have to sign the register between 11 a.m. and noon during the morning session and between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. during the evening session of the Lower House.
  • Taking serious note of the low presence of members in the Lower House, Mr. Koliwad told that the attendance of legislators would be made public daily by giving reports to the media.
  • The Legislative Assembly met for 181 days since the Congress government headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah took charge in 2013 (from May 29, 2013 to December 3, 2016). During this period, several members did not attend the session more than 125 days.
  • The Speaker presented his 15-point wishlist for effective functioning of the Assembly.
  • This included minimum 60 days of session per year, effective functioning of all House Committees, and regular training sessions for MLAs from experts and parliamentarians.