Week’s news in brief: Jan 2 – 8

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Price of rice doubles in eight months

Inflation might have taken a beating elsewhere, but for us in Karnataka, the price of rice is heading northwards. A kilo of good quality rice now costs Rs 38 to Rs. 40. The government’s decision to impose levy on rice is the reason behind this rise. Moreover, the Andhra Pradesh Government, which was the main exporter of rice, has banned export as traders there opposed the levy system. So Karnataka is now exporting rice to Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarath, creating a shortage for domestic use. The state government has not initiated any action regarding this, and neither has the opposition. And so the price of rice rises, as it has been for the past eight months. (Vijaya Karnataka, Friday, 2 Jan)

Consumer Affairs

Hair-raising experience at a beauty saloon

Fahida Asif visited S S Saloon Point, a branch of Lakme beauty saloon, dreaming of a beautiful hair style. She went there to get her hair straightened, but ended up losing whatever hair she had. Fahida approached the consumer forum for compensation. Though the saloon argued that it was not responsible for the error, the forum asked it to pay her Rs 50,000 as compensation. (Prajavani, Wednesday, 07, Jan)

Education

Regularisations or rackets?

It is the era of regularisation of illegal acts, and Bangalore University too has followed suit. Many private education institutions have started new courses without taking proper permission from the University. Officials in University too ignore it until completion of admissions. Then they fine the errant institution according to the number of students. The University levies a fine Rs 1000 per each student for the illegal course before regularising it. Institutions, however, cleverly collect this fine from students during admission itself. (Vijaya Karnataka, Monday, 05, Jan)

Traffic Park in Bal Bhavan

Bal Bhavan in Cubbon Park will have one more attraction. Bal Bhavan and Transport Department will join hands to construct a Traffic Park in the former’s premises. The Park intends to educate children about road safety while also entertaining them. It will have toy vehicles where children can ride safely and learn to follow traffic rules. The Park will come up where an amusement park was functioning earlier. Following the Toratora tragedy a couple of years ago, Bal Bhavan officials decided not to opt for amusement rides anymore. (Kannada Prabha, Saturday, 03 Jan)

Ph D thesis topics get wierder by the day

Decline in the quality of PhDs is the subject widely discussed in university campuses these days. The decline is evident in the titles of PhD theses. For example ‘Pigeon as the symbol of peace: A study’ is also a subject registered for PhD in Mangalore University. PhDs are no longer awarded on merit these days- caste, money, religion and muscle power are the other considerations for getting one. (Vijaya Karnataka, Thursday, 08 Jan)

Government

BBMP calls off doctors from waste-disposal work

BBMP has finally woken up and has called off doctors who are on deputation as waste-disposal in charge. Rampant corruption in waste disposal prompted in-charge BBMP commissioner Bharathlal Meena to issue orders to send doctors back to their parent departments. 44 doctors will now return to hold stethoscopes again instead of supervising the city’s waste disposal. They are asked to handover their work to engineers of works department. Both of them are asked to work in tandem till this month end. (Kannada Prabha, Tuesday, 06 Jan)

Computer literacy directive runs into rough weather

The government’s decision to make their employees computer lietrate has stirred up a controversy. A cabinet decision was taken earlier to make it mandatory on employees, except those in Group D, to learn operating computers. However, president of the employees association N Bairappa criticised the move, saying that the government should not have implemented this without consulting employees. He urged the government to exempt employees above 50 years from this rule. Though he welcomed the move, he opined that enough preperation should be made before its implementation. (Kannada Prabha, Monday, 05 Jan)

RTI or security-a Hobson’s choice?

Terrorists threats and the consecutive police action of tightening security in the Vidhana Soudha has a negative impact on RTI. Police are not allowing people to enter the RTI office, situated inside its premises, due to security reasons. Many applicants, from the RTI activists association allege that they cannot approach the office to submit or follow up on applications. Though the Vidhana Soudha is open for public between 3 and 5 PM, people hardly respect that schedule. (Prajavani, Sunday, 04 Jan)

Help desk set up by Lokayukta

Apart from nailing corrupt officials, Lokayukta has one more service to provide to people. It has set up its own help desk. People can register their complaints by dialling 155320 or toll free number 18004255320, 24/7. Grievances against any department of government are received here, and the Lokayukta personnel too have been asked to respond to the complaints immediately. Since all telephone conversations on the help desk will be recorded automatically, they cannot evade responsibilty either. (Kannada Prabha, Monday, 05 Jan)

BBMP exempts 110 villages from SAS

110 villages which were included into BBMP recently have been exempted from the new version of the Self Assessment System (SAS) tax. The exemption will be in force for the next three years. Villagers will have to pay tax on the basis of houses they live. This exemption does not apply to commercial activities. BBMP has decided to implement SAS in its full form once these areas are developed on par with other parts of Bangalore. (Kannada Prabha, Monday, 05 Jan)

Dharam Singh’s folly costs state dear

Former CM Dharam Singh has landed in a soup. Lokayukta Justice Santhosh Hegde who conducted an inquiry into the misappropriation in Mysore Minerals Limited, recommended recovery of Rs.23 crores from Dharam Singh, who was instrumental in issuing licences for illegal mining. The Lokayukta felt that Singh’s misguided instructions cost the state exchequer Rs.31.01 Crores. Most of the people who received licences from him were agents rather than mine owners. (Kannada Prabha, Sunday, 04 Jan)

Meena activates BBMP

Bharathlal Meena, a minister incharge of BBMP in the absence of Commissioner Dr S Subramanya, has proved effective. When the latter went on leave citing health reasons, most of the BBMP employees were complacent about Meena, thinking that in-charge officers never bothered about works. But Meena proved them wrong, and is apparently keeping employees on their toes. He has issued clear instructions to control rooms. But alas, the Meena effect will last for just 43 days. (Vijaya Karnataka, Friday, 2 Jan)

Parking contractors fleece customers

The collection of parking fees at the KSRTC bus stand in Majestic is nothing short of daylight robbery. Contractors are collecting hefty sums from vehicle owners in contravention of rules. Information got through the RTI Act revealed that parking for less than an hour should attract only Rs 5, 1 to 4 hours Rs 10 and more than fo
ur hours may be Rs 20 for two wheelers. Contractors are however collecting a minimum of Rs. 10 from hapless vehicle owners. (Prajavani, Saturday, 03 Jan)

50,000 farmers to pledge for organic farming

This year’s republic day will be memorable to over 50,000 farmers. They are all invited to participate in a programme called ‘balu- balugodu’ (live and let live) in Bangalore. The programme will be held in front of the Vidhana Soudha where former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam will administer an oath of opting for organic farming to farmers. Organic Farm Mission is the dream programme of the present government. Moreover farmers will be coming on their own expenses. All are provided with digital identity cards to participate in the programme. (Kannada Prabha, Sunday, 04 Jan)

Health

Ambulances or propoganda vehicles?

The Health department is in a new controversy now. Health minister B Sriramulu’s initiative of putting up his pictures of himself and chief minister on ambulances has stirred up a controversy. The state government has initiated an unique emergency health service scheme called Arogya Kavacha which provides round the clock ambulance service.The minister desired to put the photos on them. However officials are reluctant to permit amulances to act as vehicles of propoganda. (Kannada Prabha, Wednesday, 07 Jan)

Infrastructure

Underpass to open on Feb 28

The underpass being constructed in Vijaynagar and Chord road will open on February 28 this year. MLA V. Somanna said that the CM would inaugurate the underpass, the work of which was delayed due to the overlapping of Metro rail works. The delay created a lot of hardship to padestrians who found it difficult to cross the road. (Vijaya Karnataka, Sunday, 04 Jan)

Pump station or white elephant?

Bangalore’s popular ministers Katta Subramanya Naidu and R Ashok have been announcing the government’s plan to set up more pump stations in Bangalore to provide good quality of water to its residents. However nobody has bothered to know about the status of the existing stations. The best example of official apathy is the pump station at Poornaprajna layout in Bangalore South. This was constructed three years ago at a cost of Rs. 52.57 crores, and the BWSSB has yet to use it facility. It has nothing to say in its defense either. (Vijaya Karnataka, Monday, 05 Jan)

Metro terminal to come up in Majestic

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa announced that construction work of the Metro rail terminal in Majestic would start from March 2009, at the inauguration of the Sustainable Transportation and Town Plan Infrastructure Centre. He said that 20 acres of land that belongs to KSRTC has already been denotified and handed over to BMRCL for terminal construction. BMRCL still needs 7 acres here which will be given after terminal works. Works of four other terminals will start from next June, he added. (Kannada Prabha, Saturday, 03 Jan)

Society

Adoption now made easier

Adoption of children is becoming a common feature in society and more and more number of couples are registering their names for adoption. It is interesting to note that single parents and young couples are showing more interest in the same. Adoptions were happening earlier too, but they were done illegally. Nowadays awareness has increased and legal adoption has become popular. (Vijaya Karnataka, Thursday, 08 Jan)

‘Development’ killing Malleshwaram?

Malleshwaram is one of the most traditional areas in Bangalore. This peaceful locality is slowly losing its charm, thanks to erratic modernisation. It has lost hundreds of trees; an underpass has split the area; and now Malleswaram has to bear the brunt of Metro rail works. Old, traditional houses are making way for high rise buildings, inturn making way for higher rentals. Malleshwaram was earlier considered as a haven for the middle class, is no longer so. (Prajavani, Friday, 2 Jan)