The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | 22-06-2022 | 12:50 am
The steps taken by the Gujarat government to improve school infrastructure “are not only satisfactory” but are “also almost on par with any other private schools”, said the Gujarat High Court Tuesday closing a suo motu public interest litigation intitiated last year.The division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice AJ Shastri expressed satisfaction with the state’s actions and stated that the court’s apprehension now “stands allayed”.The HC initiated the PIL following a report by The Indian Express on the collapse of a government primary school at Vaghalwada in Chhota Udepur that led to students attending classes at the home of their mid-day meal cook.Additional secretary of the education department, Bhavesh Erda, submitted in an affidavit that in almost all of the 32,319 government schools across the state with 47,07,846 students “facilities towards the school building, drinking water, toilet for boys and girls are in place”.However, 6,443 schools do not have a playground for which the state government submitted that it is “trying to take care of these schools gradually by finding some alternative”. “As such, it would be open for the state to take such steps for making available playgrounds for these students. The state being alive to the problems addressed by the citizens and same being attended to as evidenced from the affidavit of the additional secretary,” it said.The court further took note of the advocate general Kamal Trivedi’s assurance that any shortfall in the infrastructure would be addressed if brought to the notice of Vidya Sameeksha Kendra, Samagra Siksha Kendra or Gujarat Council of School Education. The court recorded that it does not “see any good ground as to why the said statement should not be accepted, particularly in the background of the statistics placed before the court clearly disclosing the steps taken by the state authorities which are not only satisfactory which is also almost on par with any other private schools.”The court took note of the photos on the Vaghalwada school and noted “pucca RCC building construction of the school has been put up with other infrastructures and thus, the apprehension raised by this court stands allayed.”State Education Minister Jitu Vaghani welcomed the HC’s observations. “It is a matter of pride for the education department that the HC has expressed satisfaction over the performance of the government in the field of education by making comprehensive observations” he said in an official statement, adding that it “gives a new impetus to the education sector.”The court recorded that the Gujarat government has put up “strenuous efforts” by virtue of which several parameters such as net enrollment ratio, dropout ratio, pupil-to-teacher ratio, student-to-classroom ratio, etc have all improved.The court noted that the net enrollment rate in schools, which was 75.05 per cent in the year 2002-03, has risen to 99.25 per cent in 2012-13 and is now close to achieving 100 per cent. The school dropout ratio across the state from class 1-8, which was in the tune of 18.79 per cent in 2004-05, has come down to 3.07 per cent in 2021. “The state government through its various initiatives and schemes promoted for encouraging girls to attend schools seems to have significantly helped in reducing dropout of girls to 1.29 per cent in grades 1-5 and 3.46 per cent in grades 6-8 by the year 2021. In fact, the student-to-classroom ratio has been effectively addressed by the state as 1.37 lakh classrooms have been built from 2001-2021 which resulted in SER to 26:1 in 2021 from 38:1 in 2001-02,” the court noted.
GANDHINAGAR: Flagging off the Vande Gujarat Vikas Yatra showcasing the achievements of the government over the past 20 years, chief minister Bhupendra Patel said on Tuesday that development and trust have become synonyms in governance of the state over the past two decades. For a fortnight between July 5 and 19, 82 decorated trucks will pass through eight big cities and all 33 districts where about 2,500 events will be organized. The government will educate people about the welfare schemes that can be availed of, a CMO statement said. At the inaugural function at Sabarmati riverfront, CM Patel said that BJP governments over the past 20 years have delivered on the promises they have made to the people. “Vikas (development) and Vishwas (trust) have become synonyms in Gujarat. BJP governments have consistently pursued development in the state and the people have repeatedly shown their trust by voting BJP to power,” the CM stated. Ministers will visit different districts over the next fortnight and about 2,500 development works will either be inaugurated, or their foundation stones laid, the CM said at the meeting. The CM listed various successful projects implemented in the state over the past 20 years.
Ahmedabad: A man who has filed a petition in the Gujarat high court seeking the proper regulation of slaughterhouses in the state has pointed out to what he says is a discrepancy in the number of licences issued. He said the state government claims to have granted licences to 12 slaughterhouses. But, he said, the animal husbandry department’s documents reveal that 354 food and safety licences have been issued to slaughterhouses dealing with large and small animals and poultry. In his response to the department’s reply to his PIL, the petitioner, Dharmendra Fofani of Banaskantha district, has drawn the HC’s attention to the fact that the state government has 344 registered units, and three state licences and seven central licences have been issued to slaughterhouses under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act. The petitioner has said that the government’s affidavits — filed by the animal husbandry department and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board — are silent on the appointment of eminent persons for monitoring and managing slaughterhouses in districts. He said there is no word either on the non-formation of district-level committees as directed in January 2014 by the state-level committee. The state government had submitted that if any irregularity is pointed out by the petitioner, its departments will take prompt action for the proper regulation of slaughterhouses.In his PIL filed last year, Fofani had sought the HC’s directions to the government to close down slaughterhouses, meat shops, and hotels that are functioning in violation of the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and other related laws.
NEW DELHI: The Centre is facing an uneasy situation as three BJP-ruled states — Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh — have demanded the restoration of wheat allocation to them under the national food security scheme, NFSA. The demands have been made at a time when the Centre is struggling to somehow meet the mandatory stocking norms for wheat as on October 1 and March 2023. Following a record fall in wheat procurement, the Centre on May 14 had reduced wheat allocation under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) by nearly 40% for 10 states, including these three, to tide over any shortage while claiming that the decision was taken after “consultation with state governments”. For the Centre, yielding to the demands would be almost impossible as the total stock with the Food Corporation of India on October 1 is estimated to be barely 12 lakh tonnes more than what it requires to maintain as buffer stock. The surplus stock would be similar on April 1, 2023. While the MP government wrote to the food ministry last month seeking to restore its original wheat quota as it’s an important part of the state’s staple diet, food ministers from UP and Gujarat made similar demands on Tuesday at the food ministers summit chaired by Union minister Piyush Goyal. Gujarat minister Nareshbhai Patel said, “In areas like Saurashtra and north Gujarat, people prefer wheat to rice. We request the government to increase the wheat allocation.” His UP counterpart Satish Chandra Sharma said people in western UP are complaining against the increased allocation of rice. “It will be a great favour if the Centre can accept our demand to restore the allocation,” he said. Goyal, in his address, did not refer to these issues. Both the states have written to the Centre seeking change in wheat allocation. Office said while before May 14, each NFSA beneficiary in Gujarat was getting 3.5 kg wheat and 1.5 kg rice under the food security scheme, now they are 2kg wheat and 3kg rice. “We have requested that there should be 3kg wheat and 2kg rice. We expect the government will approve this,” said an official. Similarly, in UP, each beneficiary is currently getting 2kg wheat and 3kg rice while earlier the ratio was 3kg wheat and 2kg rice. The state has sought the Centre to follow the old norm. A food ministry official said there is hardly any room left for accommodating these demands. “When the states could not procure wheat, how can they expect us to allocate?” he asked.
A school van driver was arrested in Ahmedabad for allegedly molesting a four-year-old girl who used to take the vehicle daily.According to police, an FIR under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was lodged against the accused on Monday night after the child’s parents filed a complaint.“As per the child’s mother who is the complainant in this case, the school management informed the parents recently that their child had been upset and quiet in school. Then the mother prodded the child who revealed that her school van driver did ‘bad things’ to her while she was sitting in the vehicle,” a senior police officer said.“We have conducted medical examination of the child and a case was lodged on Monday night. The accused driver, who is in his twenties, was arrested on Tuesday,” the officer added.
Pointing out that the two Vande Bharat trains launched in 2019 have travelled 14 lakh kilometres and “proven” themselves, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Tuesday said the Indian Railways will launch an upgraded second version of the semi-high-speed trains in August 2022.Interacting with media persons at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII) at Gandhinagar, the minister said, “The plan for Vande Bharat trains were given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 and the first two trains started operating in 2019. So far, both the trains have travelled 14 lakh kilometres… Last year, 75 more trains have been approved that are under production.”The Indian Railways operates Vande Bharat Express from New Delhi to Varanasi and from New Delhi to Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Katra.Adding that the second and third versions of Vande Bharat trains will use better technology, Vaishnaw said the Vande Bharat trains currently run at 160 kilometres per hour and the second version will touch 180 kilometres per hour and the third version of the train will travel at 220 kilometres per hour.“We will start the roll out of Vande Bharat-2 train or the second version of the trains in August 2022,” he said adding that five-six trains will be rolled out every month after the launch. “The second version of Vande Bharat will have air springs (between the coach and the wheels) and will improve the ride quality manifold,” Vaishnaw added.The minister said once the first batch of 75 Vande Bharat trains are launched, the Indian Railways will launch more. “Of the proposed 400 trains, about 250 will be the second version of Vande Bharat trains and then the third version will introduced,” he added.The Railway minister who was at EDII for an interaction on start-ups said Vande Bharat trains will be operated on new routes and in some places, it will replace existing trains. “Bullet train takes 55 seconds to reach from 0-100 kilometers per hour. A similar technology has been ised in these trains and it has been designed in India. It takes only 54 seconds to reach from.0-100 kms per hour. It has a good acceleration. Its shock absorbers are also very good,” he added.Bullet train projectTalking about the bullet train project, Vaishnaw said the project will pick up speed with a new government in Maharashtra. “The earlier government in Maharashtra was not in favour of this project. But now that people have changed the government, the progress will happen,” he added.“Good progress is being made in the bullet train project. So far, pillars on 70 kilometres of the route on Vapi-Ahmedabad section, have been built. The work on this section began first, as we got the land. Foundations for pillars have been laid on 160 kilometres in this section,” he said work on the 8-9 bridges and stations were also under way.“The first bullet train section from Surat to Billimora is targeted to become operation by 2026. The first bullet train section made by China was 113 kilometres between Beijing and Tianjing. Our section between Ahmedabad and Vapi is 352 kilometres,” he said.Station redevelopmentThe minister said a masterplan for developing 370 stations have been made and tenders for 45 stations have been issued. He said the learnings from the pilot projects for station redevelopment at Gandhinagar, Bhopal and Bengaluru have been incorporated into new redevelopment. Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Navsari, Rajkot, Vapi, Bharuch, Bilimora, Anand, Nadiad, Ankleshwar, Udhana, Gandhidham, Palanpur, Jamnagar and New Bhuj will be the 16 stations that will be redeveloped in Gujarat. Apart from this, a new station building has been constructed at Vadnagar station and Chhayapuri is being developed as a new satellite station near Vadodara.The railway minister also said that tenders for installing ingenious anti-collision device “Kavach” have been issued for 3,000 kilometres of railway tracks.