Sunday, March 22, 2015

State Government Reconstitutes Rural Water Supply Task Force Committees

The state government has reconstituted rural water supply task force committees involving more public representatives at the Assembly constituency level to tackle the drinking water crisis during summer, according to highly-placed sources in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department.

The sources said circulars have been sent to all the authorities concerned on March 7 intimating reconstitution of the committees.

The circular stated that MLAs of the Assembly constituencies would be the chairman of the committees while executive officer of the taluk panchayat would be the member secretary. The MLC concerned would be its member.

The public representative/officer invited by the chairman of the Task Force Committee, tahsildar, geologist of the Mines and Geology Department or the officer nominated by him, Assistant Executive Engineer of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department and Assistant Executive Engineer of GESCOM would be invitees to the committees.

Earlier, the only elected representative in the task force committee was the Member of Legislative Assembly and the remaining members were only officers, sources added.

The committees should hold meetings immediately and prepare action plan to combat drinking water crisis during summer. Instead of preparing new plans, the committees, in coordination with the DCs, should take steps to supply drinking water through tankers.

Kalaburagi ZP Deputy Secretary Usuf has confirmed the receipt of the circular a couple of days ago.

The state government has released Rs 85.89 crore to various ZPs to take up emergency drinking water supply works considering the depleting water table in many districts. In the official order issued on March 13, which was received by the ZPs on Monday, it has been stated that the government had released Rs 85.89 crore to 189 Assembly constituencies.

As per the allocation done to different districts, Belagavi has received highest allocation of Rs 7.65 crore.

The government has provided Rs 3.76 crore to Mysuru, Rs 3.75 crore to Kalaburagi, Rs 3.60 crore each to Vijayapura, Davangere and Ballari, Rs 3.25 crore to Hassan, Rs 3.15 crore each to Bagalkot and Mandya, Rs 3.00 crore each to Bengaluru (Urban) and Bidar, Rs 2.95 crore to Kolar, Rs 2.80 crore to Dakshina Kannada, Rs 2.70 crore each to Chitradurga and Haveri, Rs 2.50 crore to Chikkaballapura, Rs 2.25 crore to Koppal, Rs 2.00 crore to Chikkamagaluru, Rs 1.88 crore to Dharwad, Rs 1.80 crore to Chamarajanagar, Rs 1.90 crore to Bengaluru (Rural) and Rs 80 lakh to Kodagu districts, sources added.

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‘Inter-cultural dialogue forms base for secularism’

“Secularism built on the pillars of inter-cultural dialogue and syncretic worship are the biggest contribution of the Deccan to Indian culture,” Rehmat Tarikere, writer said in Bidar on Wednesday.

He was speaking at ‘The Glory that was Bidar’, an international seminar organised by the district administration.

Different sects and schools of thought have the unmissable tinge of secularism, he said. “What is great about them is that they are part of the folk culture. The good news is that they are still thriving,” he said.

He gave examples of Ashtur village near Bidar, where believers worship the tomb of Ahmed Shah Wali as the reincarnation of saint Allama Prabhu. He listed several such shrines across Karnataka where cultures fuse and religions are indistinguishable.

“We need to remind ourselves that secularism is not an alien concept for us. It is died in the wool of the country’s cultural fabric. We are not secular because someone told us to be so. It is because we are deeply empathetic human beings who are open to thought and willing to befriend people from other cultures,” Prof. Tarikere said.

He lamented that purists in Islam and Hinduism were out to destroy the multi-cultural character. Sects like Sufi and bhakti traditions remind us that our styles of living are overlapping. We are not commodities that can not be put in watertight compartments that are only Hindus or only Muslims, he said.

It is alarming to see the incidents of moral policing on a rise. Even boys and girls from different faiths are not allowed to sit and talk, in some places. Such events need to be condemned equivocally by members of all faiths, he said.

He said that dialogue between different faiths and cultures was the need of the hour. “It is our strength and we need to preserve it. If we lose the tolerance, acceptance and empathy that could make us strong enough to entertain a thought that is opposed to our ideology, then we can have little cultural progress,’’ he warned.

At an interaction, Prof. Tarikere said that Islam was not unilateral entity with a single, defined dimension. It is a multi-layered concept with different hues, he said.

Chiranjiv Singh, former special representative of UNESCO, Appagere Somashekar of central university of Karnataka , Kalaburagi, P.C. Jaffer, deputy commissioner, Kishor Joshi, assistant director of tourism and others were present.

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“Restoration of medieval-era monuments will be taken up in consultation with professional art restoring agencies,” P.C. Jaffer, Deputy Commissioner, said in Bidar on Thursday.

Agencies like the Indian Heritage Cities Network, the Deccan Heritage Foundation, the World Monument Fund, the Aga Khan Foundation and the Archaeological Survey of India will be involved in these efforts, he said. He was speaking at ‘The Glory That was Bidar’, an international seminar on Deccan heritage.

“We have initiated studies about the monuments and the heritage around it. Once we come to some level of understanding about how we can go about it, we will start the work,” he said.

He said that the district administration would work on complying with the guidelines suggested by agencies for conserving and protecting the city, along with the monuments. Ratish Nanda of the Aga Khan foundation urged the government to take up conservation work with community participation.

“There can be no conservation without addressing social and economic issues. Conservation is a way of life. It is not just fixing monuments. It includes conserving culture and heritage, without disturbing the socio-economic balance in society,” he said.

Mr. Nanda advised officials not to lose sight of the fact that efforts should be frugal and people should not squander money.

He said that conservation efforts would not succeed unless done by specifically trained artisans. “The idea is to use the same techniques of construction and art that were used by the original builders. If the conservation workers don’t stay close to these skills, the monument would never look like it was originally intended to be,” he said.

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‘Bidar can teach tolerance to world’

“If there is a lesson that Bidar can teach to the world, it is tolerance and coexistence,” Keshavrao Nitturkar, the former vice-president of Karnataka Legislative Council, said here on Tuesday.

Mr. Nitturkar was speaking after inaugurating ‘The Glory That Was Bidar’, a seminar on Deccan heritage, organised by the district administration and the Hyderabad Karnataka Development Board.

People of various faiths and different languages have been living in this historic city for thousands of years. “We have never had an issue of communal violence in over 600 years. That is because we have always understood the importance of tolerance, understanding and brotherhood,” he said. The only time we had a full-fledged riot was when the insiders fought with the outsiders over political power in the early 16th century. It caused a widespread damage, even as half the city was destroyed. But then, it seems we have learnt a lesson and remained peaceful since then. We have Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and even Parsis living in this region, without ever worrying about the other person’s religion, Mr. Nitturkar said. “Another unique character is that we have never had a language riot. We have people speaking many languages living as neighbours,” he said.

Dusan Deak, Professor of Comparative Religion, Comenius University in Slovakia, M.A. Nayeem, chronicler of Deccan history, Anuradha Reddy head of INTACH Hyderabad unit, and others were present.

No incident of communal violence occurred in Bidar in over six hundred years: Nitturkar

‘People belonging to different faiths and speaking various languages have been living here’

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Tourism Expo launched in Bidar

A view of the Solah Kambha Mosque in Bidar Fort. The administration wants to promote heritage tourism in the city.— FILE PHOTO

The district administration launched ‘Tourism Expo’, a tourism promotion event to introduced Bidar to tour operators from across the country, in Bidar on Tuesday.

Tour operators from New Delhi, Cochin, Hyderabad, Hampi, Vijayapura and Maharashtra participated in a heritage walk around the old town in the morning. History and archaeology experts took them around historical houses.

B.G. Shetkar, president, Bidar Chamber of Commerce and Industries, flagged off the heritage walk. He said local business persons were eager to welcome tour operators and provide them necessary infrastructure benefits and amenities.

The tour started from Choubarah, and passed through the small lanes of the old city lined with heritage houses as well as the Madrassa of Mahamud Gawan and ended at the Bidar Fort.

Govindan Kutty, head of the team that prepared the heritage master plan for the city, said 350 houses that were over 200 years old were identified as heritage houses. At least ten per cent of them can be converted into heritage homestays, he said.


Later at the Zilla Panchayat, senior officials interacted with the tour operators and assured cooperation. M. Sultan from New Delhi pointed out that clean hotels built at low budgets could help tourist stay overnight at Bidar. Now, most tourists come from Hyderabad, stay for a few hours and go back by evening. “We should try and retain them overnight,” he said. He strongly favoured conversion of heritage houses into home stays.

B. Venkatachalam from Hyderabad said the City Municipal Council should construct toilets near public places of tourist potential.

Dusan Deak, from Slovakia who is a frequent traveller to India, pointed out that Tourism Department should develop separate circuits for tourists with different tastes. Those interested in forts should be taken to the Fort and related monuments.

Others could be taken to spiritual places with Sufi, Datta and Natha Pantha traditions. The rest can be taken to see water structures like the Karez underground aqua ducts, terracotta pipes lines that supply water in heritage structures and the step wells in the nearby farms, he said.

Vinay Malage, coordinator of Team YUVA, a youth association suggested young travellers could be taken on jungle treks.

P.C. Jaffer, Deputy Commissioner, said the district administration was already in talks with some hotel chains. “We are hopeful of starting one soon,” he said.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

One solution to many problems

Bheemanna Patil of Marakhal village next to his gobar gas plant.

Bheemanna Patil of Markhal village has found a single solution to many problems. He has installed a gobar gas plant in his backyard that is connected to the toilet in front of his house.

“The toilet waste is taken care of, and my compost pit fills automatically. Our spending on fertilizers has reduced as we use the compost,” Bheemanna said. His younger brother is constructing a toilet so that it can be connected to the gobar gas plant.

The 12 square metre underground structure is built between the toilet and the compost pit. It has two inlet pipes, one to receive animal dung mixed with water and another is connected to septic tank. Methane gas released when the matter decomposes and is carried by a pipe to a stove inside the kitchen.

“We were not averse to having a human excreta-based gas plant. We had no idea about such units,” says Jnanadevi, Bheemanna’s wife. Her neighbours kept advising her that such a plant would give out a foul smell.

“But that was not true. We are happy now. I don’t have to haggle about firewood. All my routine cooking happens on the gobar gas stove. Only on festivals or special events when a large number of family members arrive, we have to set up a fire wood stove in the backyard,” she said. Similar is the experience of the Hiremaths from across the street. Ashamma, the family patriarch, is glad that she does not have to depend on “costly gas cylinders from Bidar.” She has already spoken to her friends in the weekly self help group meeting about the benefits of the gas plant.

These are some of the beneficiaries of the biofuel promotion initiative of the government, implemented through SKG Sangha, an NGO working in the field of renewable energy and hygiene. The NGO has built around 2,000 gas plants in the district. “Of these, around ten percent are connected to toilets,” says D. Vidyasagar, president of the Sangha. They have a target of building 6,000 plants Farm families are slowly adapting to the use of gobar gas plants connected to toilets. But the conversion rate is low, Mr. Vidyasagar said.

The NGO that works in 12 countries in Asia and Africa subsidises these bio-digesters. Each unit costs around Rs. 26,000 and beneficiaries need to pay only 20 per cent of the cost, in terms of labour and rough sand.“We will promote such units,” says Neelamma Wadde, Zilla Panchayat president. “We have a mandate to reduce the use of firewood in villages on the fringes of the forest. We request the Forest Department to promote the use of gobar gasThe ZP will organise a programme to create awareness about gas plants connected to toilets,” she said.

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Dairy sector gets a boost

Bidar Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the State Budget. The most important is the plan to promote dairying in Bidar district. The district has a climate conducive to dairying. The local Deoni breed of cattle is disease-resistant. The government’s plans for breed development, supporting animal-rearing farmers and milk procurement as well as marketing support will address most of the problems of this backward district, B.G. Shetkar, BCCI president, told The Hindu . The budget caters to all sections of society. It has extended support to lower classes and religious institutions, he said.


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Bidar officials eye medieval-era solution to water problem

The district administration will take up an ambitious project to revive the medieval-era water system in the district to ensure permanent drinking water supply to the district.

“Bidar has several water-ways that were built in the medieval era. Most have dried up. Reviving them will not only give us a source of ground water, but also enhance our tourism potential,” P.C. Jaffer, Deputy Commissioner, said at the Karnataka Development Programme Review meeting.

Revival of tanks

Old tanks like the reservoir in Kamathana, Karez (under groundwater duct) systems, and streams will be revived across the district.

“A team of experts has already visited these structures and suggested ways to revive them. A detailed plan of action will be drafted and executed soon,” he said.

Ishwar Khandre, MLA, complained that groundwater levels were falling due to indiscriminate drilling of bore wells. He urged Sharat. B., zilla panchayat chief executive officer, to ensure that this activity was regulated. “Areas like Bhalki are already declared as grey areas with depleting water tables, they need to be protected,” he said.

‘Speed up work’

Umashree, District in-charge Minister, said that the government would release Rs. 3 crore per taluk for taking up drinking water supply work. She asked engineers to speed up the work and produce utility certificates to seek extra funds.

The State government has approved of a project to bring the Gandori Nala water to areas like Kohinoor in Basavakalyan taluk, the Minister added.

Old water-ways to be revived under ambitious project

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Abdul Kalam to visit Bidar

APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, will be visiting Bidar to inaugurate the District Science Centre in here on March 19. He will interact with students.

The space scientist will also speak at the valedictory of the seminar on Deccan Heritage organised by the district administration, P.C. Jaffer, Deputy Commissioner, said in the KDP meeting in the ZP on Tuesday

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