Baroda News

Gujarat announces new industrial policy

Gujarat government’s new industrial policy aims to boost job creation and manufacturing and create an 'innovation-driven ecosystem'. The policy seeks to spend of Rs. 8,000 crore annually for five years on industrial development, and offers capital subsidy and tax incentives. Incentives will be de-linked from the State Goods and Services Tax, with up to 12 per cent of fixed capital investment to be given to large industries for setting up manufacturing operations in Gujarat in the form of capital subsidy. Industries will continue to get exemption from electricity duty for five years. Government land will be given on long-term lease of up to 50 years at 6 percent of the market rate. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) can source foreign technologies with up to 65 per cent of the total cost of technology acquisition being supported by the government with a ceiling of Rs. 50 lakh. MSMEs will be eligible for capital subsidy of up to 25 per cent of eligible loan amount up to Rs. 35 lakh. The chief minister also said that companies wanting to shift operations from China and other countries following the coronavirus pandemic were welcome to set up base in Gujarat. The government has identified 15 thrust sectors which will get additional incentives. A separate policy for the services sector will be announced soon. (08-08-2020)

State police launch drive to trace missing children

Between 2007 and July 2020, 46,400 children have been reported missing in Gujarat, and 43,783 of them have been found. Gujarat’s new police chief DGP Ashish Bhatia has now launched a 15-day drive to trace the remaining 2,617 children. He has directed all police stations to make dedicated efforts to find the missing children. All police commissioners and SP-rank officers will have to send their reports on August 21. Every district and city in the state has an Anti Human-Trafficking Unit (AHTU), and teams will have to be formed at the police station levels too.The teams will collect all relevant basic material such as photographs of the missing children and information such as identification marks. (08-08-2020)

One more hospital fire, one more wake-up call

There was a major fire recently in a hospital in Ahmedabad, and eight patients lost their lives. Now there are reports that only 91 of the 2,022 hospitals and clinics in the city have renewed their fire safety audits and secured no-objection certificates (NOCs). This callous disregard of fire safety rules is not only by private establishments but also by several public hospitals and health centres. Even the hospital where the latest fire happened had not renewed its fire NOC. It seems that the issue of fire safety at the city’s hospitals and clinics came up for discussion at a high-level meeting held after this latest tragedy. Thanks to this callous attitude of civic officials, only 91 out of 2,022 hospitals and clinics followed the rules, and not a single official in the entire city woke up to this irresponsible behaviour. So who is responsible? The hospitals? The civic body? The fire department? The patients who died? AFTER the fire did its deadly job, the information of the missing NOCs  spilled out in a few hours. Had it spilled out BEFORE the crime, many precious lives could have been saved. Perhaps the best solution for the future is to immediately shut down – or take over – any establishment as soon as its NOC expires. The punishment must match the crime. (07-08-2020)

Gujarat’s latest police manual gets a bit modern

The Gujarat police department has recently revised the police manual – which was first drafted in 1975 – and submitted it for approval to the government. One of the changes proposed is to use three dimensional (3D) laser scanners for investigations of serious crimes rather than the usual measuring tapes. The 3D laser scanners accurately record the topography of the crime scene and help the police to quickly draw up a panchnama. This saves both time and manpower. Each police station in the state is likely to be given one 3D laser scanner. The revised manual also proposes the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones for real-time surveillance, traffic management, crime scene mapping and coastal security. The police manual will now be in the form of a ‘Pocket Cop Application’ which can be updated online. It will also be available in Gujarati. (07-08-2020)

Four new police stations for city

As Vadodara’s city limits keep increasing, so does the number of police stations. Permission has been granted by the state government to form four new police stations: Atladra, Akota, Kumbharwada, Kapurai. Atladra police station will be carved out from the existing Makarpura and Manjalpur police stations. Akota police station will be carved out from the existing Gotri and J.P. Road police stations. Kumbharwada police station will be carved out from the City, Karelibaug and Warasia police stations. Kapurai police station will be made near the national highway 8 that passes near the outskirts of the city. Also, new spots have been identified for the Panigate, Wadi, Makarpura, Manjalpur and cybercrime police stations, where new buildings will be made with better infrastructure. (06-08-2020)

High court questions diktat on charging of school fees

The Gujarat high court on Wednesday quashed the government’s arbitrary decision prohibiting private schools from collecting fees. It asked the state government why it had not waived fees at government institutions, particularly its medical and engineering colleges. It highlighted the double standards so far as fees on students is concerned. The HC asked the government, “If teaching is a noble and charitable cause as stated in the impugned resolution, why does the State not take steps to waive collection of tuition fees of colleges? Why should the waiver not be for all educational institutions, schools and colleges both. For instance there are many medical colleges operated by societies and trusts established by the state. Why should the state not exempt fees at such medical colleges and other private medical and engineering colleges?” The court said that a balance has to be struck between providing children a reasonable education and allowing the schools to stay afloat. At the same time, schools should be aware of the economic instability being faced by parents, the bench said. The court asked the government to try and strike a balance so as to protect the interest of the parents as well as the managements of the private unaided schools. The high court said schools can charge tuition fees which will cover expenditure on salary, establishment and curricular activities and maintenance. (06-08-2020)

Record number of registrations for MSU’s bachelor programmes

MS University has received a record number of over 51,000 online registrations from students seeking admissions to first year (FY) bachelor programmes – BA, BCom and BSc. Out of a total of 51,398 registrations, 39,180 forms have been submitted. A total of 29,086 students have already submitted their fees through the online payment system. The online admission process will continue till August 20. (06-08-2020)

Work begins on gold plating of Lord Shiva statue in Sursagar lake

Work on the gold plating of the 111-foot statue of Lord Shiva in the Sursagar lake has begun. Work on the statue began in 1996 and it was dedicated to the city in 2002; it was christened Sarveshwar Mahadev. The Suvarna Sankalp Foundation was floated with the aim of plating  the idol with gold. Philanthropist Dr. Kiran Patel has donated Rs. 4.5crore for the gold plating work. The statue has a concrete core with copper plates fitted on it from the outside. It was formally handed over to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) after it was erected. (05-08-2020)

Farmer repaired an old TV to help his daughter to study

According to a recent newspaper report Mr. Shivji Rathwa, a farmer in Haripura-Vadeshiya village of Chhota Udepur district, got a broken old television repaired and bought a DTH service to ensure that his daughter had access to education. The money he spent for this was the money that he had saved to buy fertilizer and seeds for his farm. A lady in Ahmedabad happened to see the newspaper report and immediately donated an LED television and DTH set to the village. The village has a population of 1,000 and its children could not access online and home learning classes due to the absence of affordable and proper mobile connectivity and television sets. The television has reached the village and the gram panchayat has decided to install it either at a hall or at the school in the village so that more children can benefit. The lady also gave money to Mr. Rathwa so that he can buy fertilizer and seeds. (05-08-2020)

55% of Gujarat’s population is below 25 years of age

Did you know that 45% of Gujarat’s population is below the age of 25 years? This figure is according to the data released by the central government’s Sample Registration Survey (SRS) of population for the year 2018. The Census 2011 population report showed the group below 25 years forming 29.3% of the state’s population. The below 25-year groups increased by 15% between 2011 and 2018. The figure for rural areas was 47.4%, and for urban areas 43.2%. The data shows that 55% of the population was below the age of 30 years, and 16% was in the age group of 30-39 years. The SRS found 8% of the population to be in the 60-85 years group, and 0.3% in the above 85-year group. Gujarat’s population is 6.04 crore according to Census 2011. (04-08-2020)

Faceless income tax assessment scheme started

Ahmedabad is among the eight cities selected for the pilot project of the faceless assessment scheme notified in September 2019 by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). The other seven cities are Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi. At national level, 58,319 cases were selected from the cities, out of which 8,701 were assessed without making any additions and in 296 cases the additions were proposed. The scheme will be expanded based on the reviews. Right now less than 2% of the assessments are done through this method. The main feature of this method is that the assessment of a taxpayer from any of the eight cities can be assigned randomly to any officer from any other city. It separates the assessee from the officer, making the system more transparent. All queries are sent to the taxpayers through email. (04-08-2020)

Firm fined for aversion to virtual court proceedings

In a recent case the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) had ordered the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to expedite the hearing. Therefore, NCLT decided on a quick hearing through video conferencing. One of the participants in the case showed aversion to virtual court proceedings and insisted that it be permitted to join the hearing before NCLT as and when physical proceedings are permitted. For this the Gujarat high court imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on the firm. Amid the Covid-19 situation when all courts and tribunals work through video conferencing, the judge slapped the penalty on the participant saying that its insistence on physical hearings appeared to be a ploy to delay the hearing. (04-08-2020)

Public transport systems may have to be reimagined

Civic bodies may have to reimagine their public transit systems. Ahmedabad has over 250 BRT AC buses. The metro rail systems are also air-conditioned. Experts will have to rework air-conditioning systems to ensure better ventilation. Cities may have to improve their footpaths and establish better parking facilities, in case there is an increase in the use of personal transport. Interestingly, the sales of petrol and diesel in Gujarat have reached up to 70% and 75% of the pre-Covid levels, while there has been a substantial drop between 73% and 92% in passenger traffic in all forms of public transport. Many citizens are opting for personal transport. Autorickshaws, shared autos, and dial-a-cab operators are running at 30% capacities in Ahmedabad and Surat. City and intercity travel operators are losing crores every month. Over 85% of vehicle inquiries at dealers’ outlets come from people who earlier used cabs or public transport. There is a rise in demand for two-wheelers. In Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Rajkot sales of cars, bicycles and two-wheelers are increasing. A bicycle shop owner in Vadodara said that the demand is up by 30-40%. In Ahmedabad the bicycle-sharing model has seen a surge in rentals. Covid-19 and the fear of infection in public places is causing changes transport preferences. (03-08-2020)

Gujarat government transfers 58 IPS officers

Several changes have been made in the Gujarat police department. Ashish Bhatia, IPS officer of the 1985 batch and the current Ahmedabad city police commissioner, has been appointed as the Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP). The Gujarat government has issued transfer orders of 58 IPS officers. Sanjay Srivastava is Ahmedabad commissioner of police (CP). Ajay Tomar is CP of Surat. R.B. Brahmbhatt is CP of Vadodara. Abhay Chudasama, IGP, Vadodara range, is now IGP, Gandhinagar range. Anupam Singh Gahlaut, CP of Vadodara is now ADGP, intelligence in Gandhinagar. Mr. Bhatia, the new DGP, is said to have impeccable knowledge of organised crime syndicates and gangs. He is credited with solving a number of terror crimes, including the Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts case. Hailing from Haryana, he completed BE (Mechanical) before joining the Gujarat cadre in 1985 as an assistant superintendent of police (ASP). While being posted as SP in the ATS, he played a key role in nabbing members of the Abdul Latif and Wahab Shaikh gangs after Latif’s arrest. (03-08-2020)

Use of public transport drops in Gujarat’s four major cities

Covid-19 and the resulting fear of travelling by buses, taxis and autorickshaws has hit the public transport business. Public buses in Gujarat’s four major cities – Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot – lost 89% of its passengers. The average number of daily passengers in these four cities before the lockdown on March 23 was 11.52 lakh; that number has dropped to just 1.31 lakh passengers. Ahmedabad lost 90% of its passengers, Surat lost 94%, Rajkot lost 76% and Vadodara lost 73%. (03-08-2020)

Gujarat Skill Development Corporation established

The Gujarat government has joined hands with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to establish Gujarat Skill Development Corporation (GSDC). This move institutionalises a strategic partnership between Gujarat and NSDC to enable private sector investment in skill development in the state through the replication of the national level public-private partnership (PPP) model. A requirement of over 20 lakh skilled workers is projected for Gujarat by 2022. GSDC will play a big role in making these trained workers available in the state. The Gujarat government will hold 25% share in GSDC and NSDC will hold 24%, the remaining 51% shares will be held by 10 private companies from the state (each with 5.1% stake). Of the Rs. 100 crore required as seed fund, the state government has made a provision of Rs. 30 crore in the budget for 2020-21. (02-08-2020)

GCMMF launches Amul ‘Haldi ice cream’

The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), the company that markets Amul products, has launched ‘Haldi ice cream’. The claim is that it contains turmeric, an ingredient known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Sold in 125 ml cups for Rs. 40, the ice cream also has pepper, honey and dry fruits (dates, almond, cashews) – 0.8 percent turmeric, 0.25 percent black pepper, 5.5 percent dates, two percent each of almond and cashews, 6.2 percent of ‘honey ripple syrup’. Amul had already launched Haldi Doodh’ as an immunity booster beverage in April 2020, and that was followed by Amul Tulsi Doodh, Amul Ginger Doodh and Amul Ashwagandha Doodh. Another product due soon is an ‘immuno chakra ice cream’ which will contain turmeric, ginger and tulsi. (02-08-2020)

Night curfew removed from August 1

Following the central government’s announcement of general guidelines for Unlock 3.0, the Gujarat government said that from August 1 night curfew will no longer be in place and shops and establishments will be allowed to remain open longer. From August 1 shops can remain open until 8 pm and restaurants and hotels until 10 pm. The government also warned people and establishments licences of establishments can be cancelled if safety guidelines are violated. Religious functions for festivals will not be allowed in August and if the Covid situation persists like this, festivals such as Navratri will not be observed in the usual manner. (01-08-2020)

Power will cost more

The Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) has increased its fuel price and power purchase adjustment (FPPPA) charge or fuel surcharge for July to September 2020. It directed its four power distribution companies (discoms) to levy a fuel surcharge of Rs. 2 per unit from all categories of consumers, except agricultural, for the July-September quarter as against Rs 1.9 per unit in April-June. It has worked out a fuel surcharge raise of 12 paisa per unit, which is to be recovered from July. It has passed on a 10 paisa increase to consumers as the company does not require Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) approval to increase fuel surcharge by up to 10 paisa per unit. For the remaining 2 paisa, GERC approval will be sought and if approved by the regulator, it will be levied from the quarter starting October. A power distribution company (discom) collects fuel surcharge from consumers to offset increases or decreases in fuel (coal and gas) cost. The increase of 10 paisa per unit means a combined burden of Rs. 213 crore on more than 1 crore customers in the months of July, August and September. (01-08-2020)

Court says schools and the government must discuss fees again

The Gujarat high court said on Friday that it will set aside the clause in the government resolution prohibiting private schools from collecting tuition fees till they remain closed due to Covid. The bench asked the state government and the schools to negotiate the matter of fees again with an open mind, balancing the interests of the schools with those of the parents. The court also asked the schools to continue online classes which had been stopped recently. The parents also wanted the schools to be restrained from charging for activities that are not taking place at present. (01-08-2020)

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