Renu Pokharna

Archive for the ‘Gujarat’ Category

Downward progression: Gujarat ranks 27th in child sex ratio, 24th overall

In Gujarat on June 3, 2012 at 4:29 am

AHMEDABAD: “Why have you come to the village?”, quizzed village elders. “To carry out a detailed survey and understand the problem afflicting the rural population,” answer sociology students. “There is no problem in the village. The only problem is that there is scarcity of girls. Please bring a truck-load full of girls and resolve this grave social problem.” This conversation between villagers of Rupal village in north Gujarat and sociology students quoted in the booklet on ‘Gujarat: Population Analysis (2011)’ serves as a true reflection of the alarming social implication of the skewed sex ratio in Gujarat.

Gujarat, one of the top economically and industrially progressive states in the country, ranks a lowly 27th in the country when it comes to child sex ratio. There are in all 28 states and seven union territories taking the grand total to 35. In 2001, the child sex ratio was 883 per 1,000 boys which has only shown a marginal improvement to 886 per 1,000 boys in 2011.

What’s more, Gujarat also ranks equally low on the social ladder when it comes to ration of women to men, occupying 24th place.

Sociologists say that while awareness was created in the past decade after the 2001 census highlighted the grave social problem staring the people of Gujarat in the face, census 2011 demands that more than awareness should be done. “Strict possible action against those felicitating sex determination and resultant female foeticide should be taken now. It is time to crack the whip and set examples,” said activist Ila Vakharia.

Sociologist Gaurang Jani has also highlighted social and behavioural changes in the rural population which can further dent the numbers of girls and women in the state. The trend is of putting a full stop on having another child after the birth of a boy and going for a second child only if the first born is a girl!

“I call it the ‘comma, full stop’ phenomena where rural families too have started zealously started planning their families with a number of families going for a second child only if the first born is a girl. If the first born is a boy, they are happy to keep their families small. This trend catching up with the rural populace will contribute further to the dwindling number of girls,” said Jani.

 

30 Jan 2012,  The Times of India

Pay full salary to ‘fixed-wage workers’: HC to state govt

In Bureaucratic Delays, Civil Services Reforms, Gujarat on May 29, 2012 at 6:57 am

The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to pay wages to the ‘fixed pay workers’ as per the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission. The order is expected to result in an estimated burden of Rs 3,900 crore on the state exchequer.

An earlier order of the High Court was silent whether fixed pay employees in the government were entitled to a “minimum scale” or a total pay (regular salary). But the High Court has clarified that total pay (as applicable to any other on-roll employee) needed to be paid to the fixed pay employees, which includes basic pay, dearness allowances and other allowances.

While Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) M M Shrivastava said they will workout the figure of the “total burden” only after receiving a detailed order, a senior official said the government would have to shell out Rs 2,500 crore as arrears. This will be in addition to the Rs 1,400 crore per annum payable as salaries for the current fiscal.

“The Chief Minister had recently announced the government would be recruiting 50,000 persons in a year. These recruitment will lead to a further burden of Rs 1,000 crore on the government,” added the official.

 

12 Apr 2012,  Indian Express

16,000 solar-powered homes: Gujarat way behind many states

In Climate Change, Energy, Gujarat, Livelihood on May 29, 2012 at 6:50 am

Gujarat, that boasts of becoming the ‘solar energy hub’ of the country, has just 16,000 solar-powered homes, way behind some of the socially and economically backward states like J&K, Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, MP and Odisha, where more households use solar power to light up their homes.

The housing data figures of the Census 2011 show that Gujarat is far behind some of the states like West Bengal (2.38 lakh houses), Bihar (1.09 lakh) and Uttar Pradesh (1.56 lakh), that have the highest number of households using solar energy as primary source to illuminate their homes.

Even the not-so-developed states — some of which have the most backward and strife-torn regions in the country, including Chhattisgarh (49,000 houses), Jharkhand (45,000) Odisha (34,000), Madhya Pradesh (40,000), Rajasthan (78,000) Uttarkhand (24,000) and Jammu & Kashmir (20,000) — have more households that run on solar power than those in a state where renewable energy occupies a significant portion (2000 MW) in the overall power generation capacity (16,000 MW) of the state.

The states of Maharashtra (57,000 houses), Andhra Pradesh (55,000) and Karnataka (25,000) that directly compete with Gujarat on the industrial front also have more solar-powered homes.

These figures presently do not seem to be in sync with claims of the Gujarat government about the state being on track to becoming ‘solar energy hub’ of the country; having the world’s first solar-powered city (Gandhinagar), and being the first to have a ‘Rooftop Solar Policy’.

“The current installed capacity (of solar power) in Gujarat is 600 MW and this is the highest in the country. Gujarat is one of the leading states as far as solar power policies are concerned. They have supported a large programme and this has attracted a lot of investors,” said Santosh Kamath, Partner, Management Consulting, KPMG Advisory Services Pvt Ltd. He, however, did not respond when asked why Gujarat was lagging behind states like Bihar and UP in equipping households with solar power.

Though the state has the record of chalking out its own solar policy in 2009 — well ahead of the Centre’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission — and is on track to come out with a ‘Rooftop Solar policy (that will encourage property owners in the state to offer their rooftop or terrace for installation of Solar Photovoltaic system for solar power generation), the advances in solar power generation is yet to percolate to household levels.

Though the state government plans to introduce roof top solar power generation in urban areas, including Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara, the Census figures show rural parts of the state have scored over its urban counterparts in empowering households to use solar power.

As per the recent Census figures, among the 16,000 households in Gujarat that use solar energy, a majority 13,000 are in the rural areas, including villages in the Gir forest.

Apart from the existing 600 MW solar power capacity, Gujarat will add about 15 solar projects (having a total power generation capacity of 650 MW) when it will dedicate these projects to the nation at Charanka Solar Park in North Gujarat on April 19.

12 Apr 2012,  Indian Express

13 lakh kids in Gujarat malnourished: ICDS

In Gujarat, Malnutrition on May 29, 2012 at 6:39 am

At least 13 lakh children in Gujarat don’t get proper food and are malnourished, says a recent compilation by the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), which functions under the the state government’s women and child development department.

Sources said the figure could go much higher because only 39 lakh children registered under the ICDS have been surveyed.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi had severely criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Sadbhavana Mission fast at Godhra on January 20 for his “late realisation” on the malnutrition issue in the country and said mere commenting on it was not enough.

Modi had claimed he had realised the gravity of malnutrition in 2004 and started taking measures to end it in Gujarat from 2005.

However, these numbers that surfaced at a meeting of the state-level monitoring and review committee for the ICDS showed that much needed to be done even in Gujarat about underweight and malnourished children.

The survey, done in February 2012, showed 12,98,480 of the 39,38,788 children below six years of age and registered under the ICDS were in the “seriously malnourished or medium malnourished” categories.

According to data provided by the ICDS department for review to the high-level committee, 95,586 children were “seriously malnourished”, 12,02,894 were at the medium stage and 26,40,308 were described as “okay by weight”.

A key committee member, who preferred anonymity, said, “It is a very serious issue. There are many children in tribal and other areas who are not registered under the ICDS. They also need to be included. There is a need for active involvement of society and NGOs. A high number of Anganwadis function from open places. Most of the Anganwadis don’t have portable water supply. In north Gujarat, Anganwadis give ground water to children, which is unhygienic. Most of the Anganwadis don’t even have a toilet, which is key for hygiene and health of children.”

The department claims that compared to last year (April 2011) percentage of medium-level malnourished children reduced from 34.2 per cent to 31.3 per cent and of seriously malnourished children reduced from 4.1 per cent to 2.8 per cent.

At least 13,206 Anganwadis run from rented buildings, while 17,552 function from public space or any other space given in gratis.

Around 40,000 rural Anganwadis don’t have electricity and water supply. The department claimed that it has planned to provide electricity connection to 7832 Angadwadis. Most of the Anganwadis also don’t have their own toilet for children and staff, sources said.

According to the ICDS department, only 17,800 Anganwadis have toilet, while more than 33,000 Anganwadis don’t have toilet.

However, the department requested the committee to recommend increase in the rent of Anganwadis in the urban areas.

The committee headed by chief secretary A K Joti had officials from the health and women and child development departments apart from various BJP MPs, MLAs and other experts.

 

11 Apr 2012, Indian Express

AMC’s vigilance department ‘overburdened’ with complaints

In Civil Services Reforms, Gujarat, Urban Management on May 29, 2012 at 6:31 am

Going by the number of complaints and inquiries completed by the vigilance department of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in a year, the corporation seems to be “overburdened” with complaints against its manpower.

Till April 1, 2012, as many as 906 complaints were received by the AMC’s vigilance department. Out of these, 521 have been completed so far and remaining 385 complaints are still pending with the department.

Talking about the final outcome of these complaints as decided by the vigilance department, 410 have not been proved while only 45 were proved and 66 were transferred to the concerned departments for further actions.

“Out of 906 complaints pertaining to the AMC employees right from the lowest in the hierarchy (Grade D) till the senior officials, even including deputy municipal commissioners, almost 80-90 per cent were against corruption and inefficiency in duty. Also, 90 per cent of the complaints were received from general public and remaining from the employees themselves against their colleagues or juniors and at times even seniors,” said a senior official at the vigilance department.

When contacted the AMC Municipal Commissioner Gurudas Mohapatra said, “The vigilance department has been quite active in dealing with the complaints.”

“The department does not entertain anonymous complaints until these are marked by the office of deputy municipal commissioner or the municipal commissioner,” he added.

As per sources, corruption complaints against four deputy commissioners were also received, though these could not be proved. The vigilance department either receives complaints directly from public or its own staff or these complaints are directed from the senior most officials. For further probe against the concerned employee, the vigilance department seek permission from the concerned deputy commissioner.

The complaints once proved are directed to the industrial relation department where further course of action is taken in the form of chargesheets that are being prepared against the accused.

16 May 2012, Indian Express

State returned central aid for key schemes

In Bureaucratic Delays, Centre-State Relations, Education, Gujarat on April 6, 2012 at 5:59 am

While the state government often accuses the Centre of withholding financial assistance for various programmes, it turns out that 67% of the central grants for 2010-11 allocated for Kanya Kelavni, the prestigious annual girl child education campaign by the state government, was returned to Delhi because they could not be used, says the CAG report recently tabled in the state Assembly.

Kanya Kelavni is one of the several schemes that figures in a elaborate list of 86 “substantial surrenders”, where 75% of the total central grants worth 1,500 crore meant for various schemes were surrendered due to their non-implementation or slow implementation.

Kanya Kelavni was launched 2003 and it is inaugurated every year in June by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, after which his team of officers travel to remote villages to encourage parents to enrol girl children in schools.

The government’s official publication claimed that because of the Kanya Kelavni and Shala Praveshotsav, drop-out rate in 1-5 grade came down to 2.09% in 2010-11 compared to 20.93% in 2000-01.

Most of these cases where grants were partially or fully surrendered relate to education projects like Rashtriya Madhyamik Shikshan Abhiyan scheme, computer literacy studies in schools, Gujarat Teachers Education University, Saraswati Yatra, Gujarat Technology University and development of engineering colleges.

These figures have come to light in the audit report of appropriation accounts by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), which notes that there has been 100% surrenders of grants in 22 of the 86 cases of “substantial surrenders” (involving more than 50 per cent of the total provision or more than Rs 1 crore) during the financial year 2010-11.

“Out of the total provision amounting to Rs 1,543 crore, almost Rs 1,168 crore was surrendered, which included 100 per cent surrenders in 22 cases amounting to Rs 138 crore,” says the CAG report.

Apart from education projects, grants for improvement of justice delivery in the state, cyclone mitigation and setting up emergency response centres were also returned.

The entire Rs 20-crore grant for the state government’s disease control programme for foot-and-mouth diseases was returned since the vaccination campaign could not be carried out for want of vaccines.

 

6 April 2012, Indian Express

Electricity surplus Gujarat not so ‘power full’, reveals census

In Energy, Gujarat, Poverty Eradication on April 6, 2012 at 5:55 am

For a state government that pats itself for having turned Gujarat into a power surplus region by connecting all the urban and rural areas to the electricity grid, the census data of 2011 — that shows over 11 lakh households not having electricity as main source of illumination — could come as a shock.

The housing data of the census points out that there are over 11 lakh residences that do not use electricity in a state that has a power generation capacity of over 14,000 MW (mega watt) and claims to have 2,000 MW of surplus power.

Of these 11 lakh homes, a significant nine lakh homes are in rural areas, where the government claims to have finished implementing the Jyotigram Yojana (rural electrification programme) through which it has linked all the 18,065 villages of the state to the electricity grid (in just 30 months), providing round-the-clock, three phase electricity.

Gujarat became the first state in the country to claim all its villages had electricity. Former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam dedicated the Jyotigram Yojna to the nation in November 2006 in an elaborate event in Champaner of the Panchmahals district.

The census, however, belies this claim and points out that Gujarat has 11 lakh households that have absolutely no source to light up their homes. About 15% of these homes are in the urban areas.

There are about nine lakh houses that use kerosene lamps to light their homes. Of this, over eight lakh houses are in the rural areas, while the remaining one lakh are in the urban centres.

So of the total 1.2 crore households in the state, 1.1 crore use electricity to light up their dwellings.

In 2010, Gujarat had declared itself a “power surplus” state when GUVNL’s (a state run power generation, distribution and transmission company) access to generation capacity crossed the 10,000-MW mark and touched 11,500 MW against the peak demand of 10,000 MW.

The state, which was power deficient barely a decade ago, now says it has surplus of 2,114 MW. In the next few months, Gujarat will be adding 3,000 MW of power taking the total power generation capacity to 17,000 MW through six new projects.

In the recent past, the state has sold the surplus power to states like Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.

The census also found that there are 16,000 houses in the state that uses solar power as the main source of illuminating their homes. Of this, a majority 13,000 are in the rural Gujarat.

Only 46 lakh houses use LPG, PNG

Also, eye-opening are the census figures about fuel used in kitchens of the state.

For a state that claims to be the ‘energy’ hub of the country, the census data reveals there are only 46 lakh homes who either use Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) or Piped-Natural Gas (PNG) as fuel for cooking.

There is still a majority 63 lakh homes that either use age-old sources of fuel like crop residue (leftovers of crops), cow-dung cake or fire wood as fuel for cooking. Surprisingly, about eight lakh of such homes are in the urban areas.

Similarly, an additional nine lakh homes use kerosene to light their stoves; seven lakh of which are in urban centres.

There are over 46,000 homes that do not cook mostly due to exigencies of work. Of these, 26,000 are urban homes. There are also one lakh homes that use bio-gas as fuel in their homes (65,000 are rural homes).

 

5 April 2012, Indian Express

‘Annual Action Plans had unrealistic targets’

In Agriculture, Bureaucratic Delays, Corruption, Gujarat, Poverty Eradication, Property Rights on April 5, 2012 at 10:39 am

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has noted a shortfall of 8 to 100% in the implementation of Annual Action Plan (AAP) for 2010-11 and said its targets were not realistic.

It also noted that the government had acquired only 75% of the surplus land under the Gujarat Land Ceiling Act, and was not able to distribute all of it to the poor agricultural labourers.

CAG, in its annual civil performance report for the state, observed, “The AAP was being prepared setting out financial and physical targets for various activities to be undertaken. Audit analysis have revealed that the AAP prepared by the settlement commissioner and director of land records was not realistic and there were persistent shortfalls (eight to 100 %) in achievement of physical targets fixed.”

The report added: “As per Gujarat Land Ceiling Act, 1960, government shall take possession of land beyond ceiling limit from land owners and distribute it among agricultural workers or to needy agricultural labourers of SC/ST (categories) and other weaker sections as per yearly targets. We observed from the records of commissioner of land reforms that as on November 2009, as against declaration of 2,38,339 acres of land as surplus, possession of only 1,79,327 acres of land was taken by the government, of which 15,587 acres were yet to be distributed (March 2011) among the beneficiaries.”

It further noted the entitled groups were either agricultural workers/ labourers belonging to SC and ST categories, who needed financial assistance. But “all of them were not provided financial assistance”. It added that nothing was found on record to show that the beneficiaries were motivated to file applications for financial assistance and to avail the benefits of the scheme.

 

31 Mar 2012, Indian Express

CAG slams Gujarat govt for pollution of water bodies

In Climate Change, Corruption, Gujarat on April 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

Ahmedabad: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has raised serious concerns over the high levels of pollution in Gujarat’s rivers and lakes.

Gujarat has taken the lead among other states in setting up a dedicated climate change department, but the apex audit body, which also looks into the efficiency of government programmes, says in its latest report that the Narendra Modi government has not formulated any water policy specific to the state.

“Government of Gujarat had not formulated any policy based on the local conditions for prevention of pollution of rivers, lakes, and ground water. While treatment of industrial effluents before its discharge is compulsory, no programme had been introduced to prevent such pollution from agriculture,” CAG says in the report, which was released on Friday.

CAG adds that Rajasthan, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, unlike Gujarat, have water policies in place, but doesn’t make specific observations on the pollution control efforts of these states.

The National River Conservation Plan, it said, “was implemented, but without conducting study on the level of pollution at the point of discharge. Out of 170 urban local bodies, 158 had not established sewage treatment plants. Four major rivers were not selected for cleaning.”

The CAG in its scope of limitation for the audit also made a remark that no information was provided by the Ahmedabad municipal corporation or the state government for the audit of the National Green Volunteers or the Sabarmati River Conservation Project.

CAG said there was an increase in the incidence of water-borne diseases due to heavily polluted water sources.

It cited south Gujarat as the worst case, blaming industrial clusters like Vapi, Ankleshwar and Nandesari near Vadodara for violating pollution control norms and discharging untreated waste.

About 32% of Gujarat’s drinking water sources were found to be contaminated in a pre-monsoon survey, but the villagers were not alerted, according to CAG.

“Sampled pollution control programme of Sabarmati River at Ahmedabad though seemingly working, did not succeed in bringing down pollution levels to the prescribed norms. Present status of Sabarmati shows the presence of fecal-related disease causing pathogens as well as organic pollution at the outskirts of the city limits,” the report says.

CAG criticized state government bodies including the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for ignoring the effects of pollution on human health.

The report is also critical of the common effluent treatment plants (CETP) at Vapi, Ankleshwar, Sanand and Veraval. In Ankleshwar, an industrial area, CETPs were discharging “treated” industrial waste water that was many time above prescribed norms, CAG said.

In Hazira, CAG noted that due to the presence of high levels of hydrocarbons in the waste water discharged by industries in the area, “large-scale death of aqua stock in the river was reported in the recent past.”

The pollution levels in Gujarat’s rivers and lakes have actually fallen over the past few years, said Hardik Shah, member secretary, GPCB. “If you take into account the rapid level of industrialization in Gujarat in the past two years and if you compare with the pollution levels four-five years ago, you will see that the pollution level has gone down immensely and the Centre has taken note of this,” Shah said.

 

2 April 2012, MINT

Report rues govt apathy towards sports

In Bureaucratic Delays, Corruption, Gujarat on April 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

Slamming the state government for the “low priority” accorded to sports and sportsmen in the state, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has criticised the state for not framing a sports policy.

“The state government had not framed any sports policy… and there is no system of sponsoring and grooming players,” stated the apex auditing body about the state that has been widely promoting and sponsoring Khel Mahakumbh for the last two years.

“From a meager budget outlay of Rs 1.1 crore allotted over a period of five years for purchase of sports equipment, the Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) managed to save 60% of the allotted amount for the year 2006-11. This underline the low priority accorded by the Government of Gujarat for promotion of sports in the state,” stated CAG in its observation on sports and sportsmen in Gujarat.

The CAG also pointed out that in Gujarat coaches were deployed for administrative duties. Of the 63 sanctioned posts of coaches, 33 per cent were vacant. Further, there were 131 posts of contractual coaches of which 53 per cent were vacant. Moreover, of the 70 contractual coaches who were hired in August 2011, 14 were older than the permitted age of 35 years.

“Sports hostels were either not operational or intake was much less than their capacity,” stated the report

“Even at the school level, the Sports Authority of Gujarat did not take any action to impart training or send sportsmen to competitive events during the period 2008-10, which adversely affected the performance of the state in the National School Games,” the report added. In the 2010-11 National School Games, Gujarat stood at seventh position.

The report pointed out that the land meant for sports complexes in Gujarat have not been allotted in five places. “The Roads and Buildings department obtained grants for construction of sports complexes and expenditure incurred and user department had no control over it. The service of the architect engaged for construction of sports complexes were deficient; several extra/new items were introduced and excess quantities executed,” stated the report.

These harsh words from CAG come at a time when Chief Minister Narendra Modi has himself been spearheading the annual Khel Mahakhumb event where the government claimed that 14 lakh and 21 lakh athletes participated in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The chief minister had coined ‘Ramshe Gujarat, Jitshe Gujarat’ (Gujarat will participate and win) slogan for the Khel Mahakumbh event. He had claimed that Gujarat would rope in Chinese sports management experts to provide adequate physical infrastructure, training and coaching facilities.

 

31 Mar 2012, Indian Express