Friday, September 30, 2011

Bidar DC office goes mobile

This is, perhaps, what is meant by taking administration to the people’s doorsteps. Bidar district now has a mobile Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office. A hi-tech air-conditioned bus equipped with all facilities, including those for e-governance, to function as a DC office on wheels.

A brainchild of Deputy Commissioner Samir Shukla, the bus, costing Rs 26.38 lakh, has seating arrangements for 13 people and crucial meetings can be held while on the go throughout the district.

A projector, microphone, computer, racks to keep important files and curtains, you name it and the mobile DC office has it all. The office is also self-sustained with a toilet in tow and a mini kitchen to cater to the food and beverage requirements of the officials who accompany the DC on tours across the district.

“This is a first-of-its-kind novel initiative and the authorities concerned faced trying times finding a builder to design the bus-turned-DC office. The inner architecture was changed five times and suggestions were taken from the transport department to arrive at the final look,” Shukla said.

No need of a convoy

Shukla says that the initiative would eliminate the need to have a convoy of vehicles ferrying officials whenever the DC goes on a tour of the towns and villages in the district.

The bus would also be linked to satellites in the days to come to maximise the communication benefits.

The DC says the office-on-wheels would help save precious time as meetings (including power point presentation) will be held and information collected on the move. The pollution caused by a battery of cars following the DC’s car wherever he goes can also be reduced, Shukla adds.
The bus will come in handy even when the chief minister, ministers and senior officials come visiting to the district and all required information will be at one’s fingertips, thanks to the presence of the latest gadgets on board, the DC told Deccan Herald.
Shukla is also looking into more ways the bus can be made use of. It can also be taken to neighbouring districts whenever the dignitaries like the chief minister or ministers pay a visit.

However, there are a few doubting Thomases for the move. MLC Kaji Arshad Ali says that at a time when even the Gram Panchayats have all the necessary facilities, barring air-conditioning, the hi-tech bus is not a very big advantage.

It is beneficial

These days even the taluk centres have the required infrastructure to conduct high-level meetings. Also, holding progress review meetings amidst the people has its own benefits, Ali argues.

A meeting of the district vigilance committee, under the chairmanship of MP Dharam Singh, was held recently and MLA Eshwar Khandre raised the issue of drinking water projects.

When officials cited lack of funds as an impediment for implementing the projects, Khandre was quick to question the rationale of purchasing a sophisticated bus to double up as the DC office.

“There is no money to provide the most basic facilities to the people. That being the case, where was the need for purchasing the bus with grants under the Backward Region Grant Fund?” Khandre said.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi used often visit Bidar

Bidar has an old connection with the former Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who passed away on Thursday.
People of a certain vintage recall that the last Nawab of Pataudi used to be a frequent guest of the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad. “He and his friends from Hyderabad would often visit Bidar to hunt in the jungles of Shahapur, Khanapur and Honnikeri,” recalls septuagenarian photojournalist Ghulam Muntaqa. “The group would go in an open jeep to hunt. Sometimes we had to trek long distances or wait for hours in the dark. He enjoyed it,” the photographer said.
This was before the Forest Conservation Act 1980 was passed and laws became very strict.
The Nawab and his friends were shown around Bidar by Mr. Muntaqa and Abdul Sattar Adib, a journalist with the Urdu daily Rehnuma-e-Dakkan. Mr Adib died five years ago.
Mr. Muntaqa recalls Pataudi as a smart young man with an easy attitude, who smiled a lot and cracking up the group with his witty one-liners.
“Nobody needed to introduce him as of royal lineage: it showed,” Mr. Muntaqa said. His aristocratic mien — the way he behaved, moved and spoke — anyone could make out he was a prince, he said.
“People called him a tiger. For us, it was like the tiger coming to hunt in the jungles of Bidar. It is sad that he is no more,'' says Mr. Muntaqa.

Source: The Hindu

Airport, a castle in the air for Bidar residents

It appears that Bidar residents' long wait for civil aviation facilities at the Bidar Air Force Base has been in vain.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has not accepted the State Government's request to start civil aviation here, even four years after of the Ministry of Defence cleared the use of the airstrip for civil aviation.
This is because the GMR group that operates the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad has objected to the State Government's demand. GMR officials maintain that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the AAI that bars another airport coming up within 150 kilometres of the Hyderabad airport.
“GMR has urged the AAI not to permit civil aviation in Bidar, as the airports in Hyderabad and Bidar are less than 150 kilometres away from each other. According to the MOU, having another airport in close proximity would ‘affect its revenue stream,'” government sources said.
The State Government then requested the GMR group to take over operation of the Bidar airport, asking it to collect and keep the airport user charges from commuters.
The then infrastructure secretary, V. Madhu, held a meeting with GMR officials and a team from the group came down to Bidar airport to inspect the facilities. However, the infrastructure major has not responded positively to the State Government's repeated requests, government sources said.
“They keep arguing that the operations will not be financially viable,” said a senior officer. “We tried to tell them that their seed investment here would be zero. They have to just come, put up their banner and start operations. There is a runway, a well-protected boundary and a terminal. They don't have to spend money on any of these. Their revenue will start from day one. But they are not convinced,” the officer said.
When contacted, a GMR spokesman in Hyderabad said the group was “studying the situation”.
After the Ministry of Defence cleared the proposal in 2007, the State Government wrote to the AAI, urging it to permit private airlines to operate from here. Hoping that the request would be granted, the State Government built a terminal, including a passenger lounge and a customs office complex in 2008, built at a cost of Rs. 3 crore.
Expired lease
Land for the terminal was obtained on lease in Chidri village behind the air base for three years. The lease of the land expired on September 6. Revenue department sources said they were trying to extend the lease.
“We have waited for three years for the AAI to issue permission. Now we don't know what to do with the office complex. If the State Government tells us to drop the idea, we will use the terminal for some other purpose,” a senior officer said.
Officials are not optimistic. “The State Government may not pursue the matter with GMR as the Gulbarga airport will be operational in 6-9 months and infrastructure needs of the region will be served,” a senior officer said. 

Source: the Hindu     
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan shooting Hindi film in Bidar Fort

Huge crowds gathered on the Bidar Fort premises on Friday to witness the shooting of a Hindi film.

They climbed atop the 30-feet-high walls of the Diwan-e-Khas inside the fort to get a glimpse of the action taking place inside the royal enclosure.

The police and the staff of the Archaeological Survey of India had a tough time controlling the crowd.

The film, The Dirty Picture , being directed by Milan Luthria, is based on the life of south Indian actress the late Silk Smitha. It is being shot in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bidar.

“A major portion of a song is being filmed in the Bidar Fort. We are shooting the song with the beautiful Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-Aam in the background. The monuments are intact and imposing. The weather is perfect,” Shahana Dasgupta, assistant director, said.

The crowd, mostly comprising of young people, cheered on as the lead actor Emraan Hashmi arrived at the spot in the morning. People had to wait for hours to see the heroine Vidya Balan. She arrived late in the afternoon.

Chandrashekar Patil, who was watching the action from morning, said: “I'm amazed at the energy of the dance troupe members. They have been dancing from morning and they don't look tired at all.”

Off late, Bidar Fort has gained popularity among filmmakers. Parts of Kannada films such as Parole , Sanju Weds Geetha , Jarasandha and Bodyguard were shot here. A Tamil film directed by actor Prabhu Deva was also shot here recently.

Tourism potential

“Films shot around beautiful monuments like the fort, Bahamani tombs at Ashtur and the Madrasa of Mehmud Gawan will help boost tourism potential of Bidar and also in development of the backward district,” Deputy Commissioner Sameer Shukla said.

Source: The Hindu

Monday, September 5, 2011

Many bridges in Bidar district are under water due to heavy rain

Bus services to some villages along the Karnataka-Maharashtra border were suspended after the Saigaon bridge over the Manjra river in Bhalki taluk was submerged after heavy rainfall on Friday.
The North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) officials said there was nearly one feet of water above the bridge by Friday afternoon. “Bus services will be resumed once the water-level subsides,” officials said.
The district received around 100 mm rainfall in three days, Met department officials said.
While some farmers have claimed that water was released from the Dhanegaon barrage in Maharashtra, irrigation department official in Bidar denied it.
Saigaon residents however have raised fears of their farmland along the riverbed getting submerged. Baburao Biradar said that his fields are along the riverbed and all his crops face the danger of getting submerged. If the rain continues for another two days, all my crops will be destroyed, he said.
Agriculture Department officials expressed helplessness about crop loss along the riverbed. Some farmers have grown crops on the no-cultivation buffer zone along the riverbed. Some of them have encroached land and started unauthorised cultivation. We repeatedly advise farmers not to venture into the no-cultivation zone, but in vain. Farmers are emboldened by the fact that floods don't occur every year. That is unfortunate, a senior agriculture department official said.
On Thursday, some bridges in Basava Kalyan and Bhalki taluks were submerged due to heavy rainfall in Bidar district and parts of Maharashtra. Movement of people and vehicles was affected.
People of some villages in Bhalki and Basava Kalyan taluks had to travel through Neelanga in Maharashtra to reach Bhalki or Bidar. Bridges at Kongali and Halasi Tugaon in Basava Kalyan taluk, and Saigaon in Bhalki taluk remained submerged till evening. Village people in Hulsoor said the bridge at Shahajahani Aurad across the border in Maharashtra was also under water.
Heavy rainfall and subsequent submergence of many bridges has affected people life and movement of people in Mehkar, Kongali, Attarga, Alavai, Srimali, Halasi, Manikeshwar, Bolegaon, Valandi, Vanjarkhed and surrounding villages.
Nivrutti Sopan, a resident of Mehkar village, said that crops on his farmland near the Manjra riverbed were submerged and that he might suffer huge losses.
There were no reports of death of people or animals from anywhere in the district.
Deputy Commissioner Sameer Shukla said he would visit the bridges shortly.
Forgotten promise
Ishwar Khandre, MLA, has criticised the State Government for failing to keep its promise of increasing the height of the Saigaon bridge. Successive governments have made the promise several times in the past few years.
As Deputy Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa had visited Mehkar and promised to increase the height of the bridge at a cost of Rs. 10 crore. The issue came up for discussion in the Cabinet meeting in Gulbarga.
Later, in 2010, Mr. Yeddyurappa promised to raise the height of the bridge. Even this promise has not been kept, Mr. Khandre added. People in around 20 villages suffer as the bridges remain closed for days every year. The State Government is directly responsible for their suffering, the Congress MLA said.

Source: The Hindu