Protests by students at SPPU because of lack of facilities and infrastructure

Tensions have flared at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) campus as students belonging to external education courses have started agitations. These protests are against the lack of facilities and infrastructure available at the college. In an attempt to resolve the issue, a students’ union has also been approached. The external education course was almost banished for students last year but the decision was revoked and the excess fee levied for the exams was also done away with.

The institution is working on implementing a choice-based credit system (CBCS) to attempt to tackle the multiple problems faced by the students, reports Pune Mirror. Kalpesh Yadav, the president of the student body has been helping the students in their protests. He says that studying was becoming a task for outstation students because of the rigid rules at the college. External students presently studying in the college also had no proper facilities to avail. A second year B.Com student from Mumbai University was denied education at SPPU because they did not have the CBCS option, which is why he pursued his graduation at Mumbai University, according to Pune Mirror.

Despite the fact that the external education courses have been present at SPPU for over 30 years, proper implementation has not been carried out. Facilities are being put into place only now. Dr. Arvind Shaligram, the registrar at SPPU shared that the university is already working on plans to make external education courses more student friendly. He says that there has been a lot of confusion in the past with distance and external courses but this will change as there are plans to streamline the process very soon.

Source: Pune Mirror

Railway Budget: Focus on Development and Infrastructure

India witnessed another Railway Budget for the financial year 2016-17 earlier today in the Parliament. Union Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu presented his second budget in the Lok Sabha in the afternoon.

The new budget for the railways includes mostly the infrastructural development in various sectors. The minister started his speech saying that this budget will document a journey of transformation and journey of a nation with a three pillar strategy, .i.e. New Revenues, New Norms and New Structures.

Rs. 8,720 Cr. of budget was saved from the last financial year which will be put to use this year. In addition to this, Rs. 1,21,000 Cr. has been allocated for this year’s budget. The ministry is also hopeful of generating revenues of order of Rs. 1,84,820 Cr. for the next year and a 10.1% revised target of current year.

The budget had good news for both the passengers as well as freight movers as there was no hike in the fares. Instead the railways plan to generate revenues through non-tariff means by monetizing assets.  Besides this, there was an increase of quota for senior citizens on lower berth by 50% and 33% reservations for women in the reserved quota in railways. Passengers will be able to cancel their tickets on the 139 helpline number.

A new purposed plan for freight service was also announced which included the (North-South), (East-West) and (EastCoast). A time-tabled freight container train has been proposed which will be run on a pilot basis.

Prabhu has also included the Make in India initiative in the budget where in two locomotive factories will be set up. The bidding for the same has started already. 17 states have already agreed to form joint ventures with the railway in order to help in the construction of rail-over-bridges. The budget has also accommodated the employment generation of 9 Cr. man days in 2017-18 and 14 Cr. man days of work in 2018-19.

17,000 bio-toilets and additional toilets at 475 stations will be installed under the Swacch Bharat initiative by the end of this fiscal year. He further added that the first bio-vacuum toilet has been already installed in the Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express. Importance has also been given to the cleanliness of the coaches.

Broad-Gauge Lumding-Silchar in Assam opened thus connecting the Barak Valley with the rest of the country. As a result, Agartala was brought into the BG map. Extended plans are in the pipeline where Manipur and Mizoram will be brought into the BG map.

The minister introduced new train services specifically targeted to the lower-income class background. UDAY Express, double-decker trains with an increased capacity of 40%, the TEJAS Express, a semi-high speed train with 130kmph speed and world-class services, the Humsafar Express, a third air-conditioned express with an optional catering service and theAntyodaya Express, a fully unreserved superfast train for long-distance routes. In addition to these trains, 2-4 Deen Dayalu coaches will be added to the long distance trains with drinking water and mobile charging point facilities.

Besides these trains,  Ajmer, Amritsar, Gaya, Mathura, Nanded, Nashik, Puri, Tirupati, Varanasi, Nagapattinam and other pilgrim stations to be beautified.  Two elevated suburban railway corridors – Churchgate-Virar and CST-Panvel to be constructed in Mumbai; Ring railway covering 21 stations to be revived with state participation. A passenger corridor project from Ahmedabad to Mumbai is underway with the help from the Government of Japan.

He also added that the IRCTC to manage catering services in a phased manner and finding possibilities where it can be made optional. 10 more IRCTC operated base kitchens will be made operational where local cuisines can be made available. In addition to this, Children’s menu, baby food, hot milk and water will be made available on the trains. There will be provisions installed like toilets for the physically challenged, ‘Divyaang’ on the A1 class stations during the next financial year.

Other than this, 400 stations will be developed with the help of PPP and equipped with Wi-Fi’s with 100 installed this year. Prabhu also announced that India’s first railway auto hub in Chennai will be inaugurated soon.


Source: The Economic TimesThe Indian Express, The Hindu

Bhubaneswar tops the list of 20 Smart City Project

On Thursday morning, Union Minister for Urban Development, M Venkaiah Naidu announced the top 20 cities for the smart city plan project, including Bhubaneswar which topped the list.

Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad were few others which made it to the first list of the project, along with Bhubaneswar

“The states selected cities and sent us a list of 97 names. There was a competition among these names and 20 cities have been selected,” Naidu told a news conference. “Bottom up approach has been the key planning principle under Smart City Mission,” he added further.

“The Smart City Challenge Competition was as rigorous and demanding as the civil services competition conducted,” Naidu said.

The selected smart cities will be developed for basic infrastructure facilities, sanitation, solid waste management, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation.

The plan of the smart city projects is to accommodate the rising urban population by 2022 which will be dealing with the four plan of actions namely, Swachch Bharat, Make in India, modern accounting system, rationalisation of property taxes and e-governance.

A total of 15.20 million citizens participated and shared their ideas on different social platforms which included better sewage treatment and transportation.

The city which topped the list, Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, unfurled a 10 kilometer long canvas across the city on which the citizens wrote down their suggestions.

Other cities like Jaipur and Amritsar who have a rich heritage and tourist attractions mentioned of putting up CCTV cameras for security purposes.

Raising funds for the project will be a tricky task as it may involve total revamping of the city with rehabilitating people as well as acquisition of lands.

Source: Hindustan Times


Three Labourers Trapped in Under Construction Tunnel

Tunnel collapsed at Kandrour, Himachal Pradesh
Tunnel collapsed at Kandrour, Himachal Pradesh

BILASPUR, 13th September 2015:  A minimum of three labourers are trapped after an under construction building collapsed last night, according to police sources. The police and fire brigade have launched an operation to rescue those stuck in the spot.

Sources reveal that the workers were engaged in digging a tunnel, when a landslide hit the place, thereby getting trapped inside the cave. As per latest reports, machines have been put to action by the official authorities to pump oxygen into the tunnel, police authorities confirmed over telephone.

The tunnel is a part of an under-construction four-lane  in the Chandigarh-Manali national highway route. It is located at Kandrour, between Bilaspur and Ghumarwin towns, which is almost 100km away from the capital state, Shimla.