Week’s news in brief: Nov 28 – Dec 4

Arts and Culture

Only three witness Kannada programme

Kannada Bhavana,adjoining the Ravindra Kalakshetra is the venue for numerous programmes pertaining to Kannada and Karnataka. To commomorate ten years of the building, a seminar on liberalisation, economic scenario and its effects on culture was organised last week. However there were just three people in audience. Organisers were taken aback with this poor response.(Prajavani,Sunday, Nov 30)

Business

Rice levy: burden on traders or common man?

The price of rice has increased by Rs 4- 5 per kg as a repurcussion of the government’s decision to levy rice traders. Traders have passed their burden on to consumers. As a routine, whenever the government decides to levy rice, there is a price rise in the open market. Officials say that this trend will continue for three more months, and warn of further increase in price.(Vijaya Karnataka, Wednesday, Dec 3)

Entertainment

National School of Drama finally takes a bow

The much talked of National School of Drama finally began functioning in Bangalore. To begin with, the school will start functioning from Guru Nanak Bhavan in Vasanthanagar. With this suspense of when and where NSD will start, is over. Until now, it was working in a makeshift office in ADA auditorium on J C Road. NSD intends to start a diploma course in theatre from the next academic year.(Udayavani,Wednesday, Dec 3)

Environment

Case filed against KAS officer

A case was filed against 11 persons, including a KAS officer, for trespassing forest area near Nagarahole. Sarfaraj Khan, Managing Director of Backward Castes Development Corporation, and his associates were travelling in private vehiles in the thick forest area in Metukuppe without proper permission. Tracing these vehicles, forest officials chased them and arrested the culprits. The latter allegedly tried to use their political clout. However, forest officials showed rare guts and filed a case. It is not clear why they were travelling in the forest.(Prajavani,Tuesday, Dec 2)

Illegal quarrying dries up lake

Illegal mud quarrying in Ganjur lake is resulting in the lake’s untimely death. This lake was a source of water for farmers in Varthur, Halasalli, Tippasandra villages in Bangalore east, earlier. However, now it is turning into a dumping yard. Public allege that mud is taken away by some of the local gram-panchayat members for their brick factories. Officials, too, turn a blind eye to these affairs.(Prajavani,Monday, Dec 1)

Government

Elections to BBMP this year doubtful

With the state government’s final approval for ward revison pending, elections in BBMP on time is doubtful. The high court has directed the government to hold elections within December, but the file is still lying with the CM for approval. The state election commission, too, has expressed its helplessness to hold elections on time. (Prajavani,Thursday, Dec 4)

Rats have free run in Vidhana Soudha

If you thought that the Vidhana Soudha is infested only with men in white, you are wrong. The state’s administrative head office is also infested with rats. Police may have curtailed movement of the public here, but rats suffer from no such restriction. Many important files have been lost due to these rats. Government earmarks Rs 2.68 lakhs every year to deal with rats and cockroaches. But nobody knows how it is beng spent.(Vijaya Karnataka,Tuesday, Dec 2)

Proposal to waive dues of a politician kicks up row

A proposal to waive dues to the tune of Rs 23.95 lakhs incurred by senior politician, former minister Vyjanath Patil, has kicked up a row. The proposal, in all probability, will be accepted by the cabinet. Vyjanath Patil was urban development minister in the JH Patel ministry. Even after the power, he continued to stay in the government bungalow. Dues are in the form of rent of the bungalow and its furniture.(Vijaya Karnataka, Thursday, Dec 4)

Ministers’ offices cut expenses

Close on the heels of the Chief Minister’s announcement that the state treasury is short of funds, ministers’ offices, too, have started feeling the heat. The personnel and administration departments have decided to curtail office expenses. An order to this effect too was passed. Now office staff need to approach their department’s principal secretary or secretary to get the necessary material, necessary even for day to day functioning.(Vijaya Karnataka,Wednesday, Dec 3)

Backward castes’ and scheduled castes’ development corporations likely to be merged

The government is thinking of merging backward castes’ development corporation and scheduled castes’ development corporation. However, members from both sections are opposing this move. The sections were seperated during 1977. To streamline administration, the government now proposes to merge different sections. An order to reorganise such offices at district and talluk levels is already sent.(Udayavani,Tuesday, Dec 2)

Government treasury in the red

World recession seems to have a direct impact on the state government, too. Literally bankrupt, the government has availed of the maximum ‘crisis loan’ from the RBI. If the expected amount of tax cannot be accumulated during the third quarter (October, November and December), the government will have to go in for overdraft.(Kannada Prabha,Wednesday, Dec 3)

Yet another scam surfaces in BBMP

Scams involving solid wastes disposal are not new to BBMP. In yet another corruption case, fake bills worth crores of rupees were created and claimed in the BBMP. BBMP commissioner, Dr Subramanya, himself, took the initiative in identifying culprits, both contractors and officials. He also decided to file criminal cases against 30 people. Earlier the government had asked Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) to conduct the inquiry. BMTF’s report disclosed that fake bills to the tune of Rs 8 crores were created. (Kannada Prabha,Tuesday, Dec 2)

It’s a dogs’ life in the Dog Squad

Whenever there is a terrorist attack elesewhere in India, one wonders how Bangalore will be able to cope with such threats. The dog squad plays a vital role in such incidents, but it also faces a number of problems. There are 36 specialised dogs and 36 personnel appointed to look after the squad. Strangely, the appointed personnel are not working in the dog squad; some of them are on special duty with other wings of police department and some of them are working as assistants at judges’ and higher officials’ houses. There is only staff left to cook food for dogs and one for maintainance.(Prajavani,Sunday, Nov 30)

Waste disposal scam in BBMP

Waste disposal is becoming a lucrative business for corrupt officials in BBMP. In yet another scam, irregularities to the tune of Rs 3 crores have surfaced. Bills dating back to 2006 state that solid wastes were disposed during the earstwhile Mahadevapura city muncipal corporation in a vacant quarry area in Kaverinagar. However, there is no such place in Kaverinagar. To avoid transperancy rules that requires calling for a tender if the contract exceeds Rs 1 lakh, bills were prepared within Rs 99,000, cleverly hoodwinking the treasury.(Vijaya Karnataka, Friday, Nov 28)

Syllabus of SI training will be changed

With the changing scenario of crime in recent times, the state police department has finally decided to change syllabus of sub inspectors’ training, which had remained unchanged for the last 38 years. The new mode of training will incorporate dealing with terrorism, cyber crimes, naxalism, sea pirates. The department is also keeping intelligence failure and changing political scenario in mind while preparing the new syllabus.(Kannada Prabha,Sunday, Nov 30)

Save the ATC!

The recent terrorist attack on Mumbai should be an eye opener for every government. However, the Anti Terrorist Cell in Karnataka is in a terrible state. Government apathy has made this important wing literally go into a limbo. The ATC staff has, apparently, not received their salary since two months. They do not have any ammunition except lathis. They are also not equipped with bullet proof jackets, leave alone sophisticated arms like AK 47. The government, apparently, is not reimbursing even the maintenance cost of ATC.(Kannada Prabha, Friday, Nov 28)

Health

Chandru gets back his life

Remember the plight of a boy who was kidnapped by a group of eunuchs and converted into a girl? The boy, Chandru, was reunited with his family recently but with a different look. Apollo Hospital has come forward to give the child back his original gender, by undertaking a surgery to reimplant genitals. Though, the surgery would cost Rs 3- 4 lakhs, the hospital is doing it free of cost.(Kannada Prabha, Wednesday, Dec 3)

Infrastructure

Killer road humps

Erratic construction of humps on various roads are becoming death traps for two wheeler drivers. Rules stipulates certain scientific guidelines for building humps and specifies that they should be limited and put up only where it is very necessary. But the police seem to be opting for humps wherever the public complain about increasing accidents. And these killer humps are in bad shape, too. Now BBMP has called for a tender for scientific construction of road humps.(Prajavani,Friday, Nov 28)

Project on taluk level small power units shelved?

The government appears to be neglecting its scheme of setting up small power generation units in every talluk to overcome power shortage. It was earlier decided to have 5 to 25 megawatt capacity power generation units in every taluk. KPTCL even invited tenders in this regard last year. A seperate body called Power Company of Karnataka (PCKL) was set up to supervise construction of these plants. 19 companies showed interest. However, now the government seems to have almost shelved the scheme.(Kannada Prabha,Wednesday, Dec 3)

GPS for police vehicles soon

The police department is preperaing to install GPS (global positioning system) in all police vehicles. Officials say this is to keep track of officials and how quickly they respond to a crime. As a pilot project, GPS will be installed in the vehicles in Hubli, Dharwar and Mysore. The project costs Rs 2.5 crores. Tender process is on. Such a system is already implemented in the vehicles of State Police Housing Corporation.(Kannada Prabha,Monday, Dec 1)

CBI file FIR in Shiradi ghat case

CBI officials had filed a FIR (First Information Report) against contractors and a few NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) officials who ‘repaired’ Shiradi ghat. Upholing a recent PIL regarding the same, the High Court has ordered a CBI inquiry into the alleged misappropriation in the repair works of Shiradi Ghat that connects Hassan and Mangalore.The FIR was submitted to a CBI court but the names of corrupt officials have not been made public.(Vijaya Karnataka, Saturday, Nov 29)

City star hotels see decline in business

The attack on star hotels in Mumbai has had a direct impact on such hotels in Bangalore, too. It is reported that the number of tourists and visitors to these hotels since the Mumbai seige has decreased considerably. Many such hotels have upgraded security on their own. Rumours about Bangalore being the next target of terrorists is not helping matters, either.(Vijaya Karnataka, Saturday, Nov 29)

Final preparations on for Kempegowda layout

BDA’s much hyped Kempegowda layout has been crippled for various reasons. The final notification for land acquisition is expected during March 2009. A team of BDA officials is trying to woo land owners to give up sufficient land for the layout, to come up between Magadi road and Mysore road. The layout will stretch for about 4,814 acres and is expected to provide 95,000 sites.However, the BDA has received more than 7000 petitions against land acquisition.(Kannada Prabha,Saturday, Nov 29)

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