Gujarat has the potential to generate 2,000 MW power through biomass. If the state puts its wasteland to use power generation through biomass, generation can go up to 5,000 MW.
This is what B C Jain, chairman and founder of Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies Private Limited, a leading biomass gasifier company, told mediapersons here on Tuesday.
"Presently, Gujarat counts for only 32 MW (with Rs 150 crore investment) of installed capacity where power is generated through biomass. Generating 2,000 MW of power through biomass which is the state's potential as of today, can lead to direct investment of Rs 10,000 crore in rural areas of the state," said Jain, a gold medalist from BITS, Pilani and MBA from MIT Cambridge.
He had returned from the US in 1977, leaving a lucrative job behind to work in India.
The firm, which has set up country's first biomass based power plant that can generate 1.2 MW power at Sankheda, in the last one and a half years has collected biomass worth Rs 4 crore from farmers of the region.
The firm that had clocked Rs 51 crore turnover in the financial year 2012-13 makes biomass gasifiers, mostly used for power generation.
A gasifier is used to partly burn biomass - a clean, renewable energy source - into gas, which is then fed to engines to generate power.
The company has installed gasifiers in over 30 countries, including the US, Bulgaria, Argentina and Cambodia.
It has licence to set up such plants of total capacity of 10 MW in Sri Lanka of which it has so far completed 2 MW.
Kerala's renowned Mohiniattam dancer, scholar and educator Methil Devika interacted with students of a city-based school on Friday.
Devika interacted with students of Gujarat Public School (GPS) during a programme organized jointly by the BRG Group which manages GPS and the Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPICMACAY).
Born and brought up in Dubai, Devika had started learning bharatanatyam at the age of four from S Natarajan. She learnt mohiniattam from Kalamandalam Leelamma and Girija Chandran, director of Regatta Cultural Society, Thiruvananthapuram, and kuchipudi from Vempatti Ravi and Satyapriya Ramana.
A topper in MBA (University of Madras) and a gold medalist in MA from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, Devika is the recipient of Devadasi National Award, Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for mohiniattam from Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademy and Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi award.
"The purpose behind organizing this programme was to provide knowledge on Indian cultures and tradition to our students and also encourage them to participate in national and international level dance competitions," a school administrator told TOI.
Devika, who has worked as lecturer in the Department of Postgraduate Studies (Mohiniyattam/Kathakali/Koodiyattam) and at the research department of Kerala Kalamandalam, a deemed university, is presently artistic director of Palakkad-based Sripada Natya Kalari.
Way back in 1875, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad began his schooling in this building before taking over reins of the erstwhile Baroda state. His sons and grandsons journeyed from Laxmi Vilas palace to this building housing princes' school in their toy train. The Maharaja Fatesingh museum located next to Motibaug ground is all set to undergo a major refurbishment. The royal Gaekwad family that owns the museum is drawing plans to revamp the museum's exteriors as well as interiors.
The Gaekwads are in process of preparing a report that will be submitted to the central government. "We are planning to refurbish the building and also work on its interiors. It requires lot of expertise to restore such heritage property. We will be taking help of the department of culture for the project," said Samarjitsinh Gaekwad, scion of royal family.
A report is being made on plans to refurbish the museum building, expenditure and other aspects. "The project is at a very initial stage as of now," Gaekwad added.
This 138-year-old building underwent major renovation for the first time in 1961 when it was converted from school to museum. The museum contains works of art collected by Sayajirao during his numerous trips abroad. The major works of art in this museum are the paintings by European and Indian artists including exquisite collection of Raja Ravi Verma, who was specially commissioned by Sayajirao. The collection includes portraits of the royal family in addition to the paintings based on Hindu mythology for which Raja Ravi Verma was famous.
Also, there is a collection of sculptures in marble and bronze including copies of great masters in bronze commissioned by Sayajirao and also originals by renowned artists. One of the artists commissioned by the Maharaja was an Italian artist Fellicci, whose works adorn not only the museum but also the Lakshmi Vilas Palace. The museum is especially noted for works by European Renaissance artists like Raphael, Titian, Murillo and Rembrandt. Another interesting section houses Chinese and Japanese porcelain artefacts, while two rooms on the ground floor are treasure troves of the Roccoco period in art.
"After independence, several royal properties and palaces were given away to the government. Lot of paintings and artworks kept in the palaces owned by Gaekwads were lying in Laxmi Vilas Palace and hence it was decided to convert the school building into museum," said Manda Hingurao, curator of the museum.
"The fully functional toy train that Ranjitsinh Gaekwad received on his fifth birthday from his father Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad, can now be found in the Fatesinhrao museum," Hingurao added.
The prince cricket team formed by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad has its roots in Maharaja Fatehsingh museum building. The cricket team consisted of Sayajirao's son and it was formed to train them in the sport.
Mother Dairy, Gandhinagar, a unit of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) has now emerged as world's largest milk film manufacturer. And, the Indian dairy model of supplying daily milk to consumers in form of pouches is now being adopted by the Western world and even in neighbouring Pakistan.
Marketers of Amul brand, GCMMF has enhanced the milk film producing capacity of the Bhat village-based plant near Gandhinagar as the demand of pouched milk is fast increasing in the country.
The plant, which had a capacity of producing 8,000 metric tonnes of milk film, now can produce 17,000 metric tones of film a year with capacity expansion that was carried out with Rs 80 crore investment.
To top it, the homegrown dairy major has already decided to double the milk film producing capacity from the present 17,000 metric tones per annum to 34,000 metric tones per annum by next year.
All dairy brands put together, a total of 8 crore milk pouches are sold on daily basis across India. Of these, Amul counts for 1.80 crore milk pouches.
Named 'Amul Sealk', the Gandhinagar plant of GCMMF is backbone of Amul's liquid milk business and ensures supply of milk film (about 424 brand variants) to 16-member unions of the federation which are having about 41 milk packing stations across India.
The fully automatic plant with machineries imported from Germany manufactures three-layer polythene from 100 per cent virgin material. "This film is very environment friendly," said Sodhi.
Habit of Indian women of stocking empty milk pouches and selling it to kabadi or pastiwallas ensure that these pouches are re-cycled for manufacturing of irrigation pipes used in the agriculture sector and for manufacturing of tarpaulin sheets used during monsoon.
"You will never find empty milk pouches in dustbins or garbage bins as even after the milk is drained out, the empty pouches remain a profitable business for waste pickers!" he said.
Gujarat will help Latin America and Argentina in particular to eradicate cataract blindness. Dabhasa-based Care Group from Vadodara, one of the top manufacturers of intraocular lenses (IOLs) used in cataract surgeries, is setting up a research and development centre and a manufacturing facility in Mendoza province of Argentina.
The facility is being set up through a consortium led by Argentine doctor Roberto Zaldivar, who is one of the leading ophthalmologists and refracting surgeons in the world.
"The multi-focal IOLs developed in Vadodara are very easy to adopt and even US companies don't have this quality. They have a sophisticated system in place for manufacturing of IOLs. I was surprised when I found out for the first time the kind of advanced technology that was being used by a firm here," Zaldivar, scientific director of Mendoza-based Instituto Zaldvir, told TOI, during his visit to the city on Sunday.
It is because of this collaboration between Instituto Zaldvir and Care Group that a high-powered delegation led by Dr Fransisco Perez, Governor of Mendoza Province is visiting Gujarat.
"Cataract blindness isn't as much prevalent in Argentina as it is in India but the emphasis now is on the precautionary side which is 10 times better," said Zaldivar, who has designed more than 60 original instruments that are being used in the field of ophthalmology.
"Through this venture, we are not just exporting a product but a technology. This project will provide technological lift to Mendoza through the R&D centre and economic lift through the manufacturing facility," Lal Dave, CEO and chairman of Care Group told TOI.
India counts for the highest number of cataract surgeries globally (6.5 million per year) of which 95 per cent are done through IOLs.
Care Group, which has its manufacturing facility at Dabhasa, six kilometers towards Jambusar from Padra, manufactures 3.5 million lenses a year and is expecting to touch Rs 180 crore turnover this financial year.
A high-level delegation from Argentina visited the MS University (MSU) of Baroda on Sunday to explore areas of mutual collaboration and sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote teacher-student exchange between the MSU and the University of Mendoza. The MoU will be signed in the presence of CM Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar on Monday.
The delegation led by Mendoza governor Francisco Perez, included senior businesspersons, journalists, ministers from the government and Argentina's counsel in Mumbai. During the meeting, Perez briefed MSU V-C Yogesh Singh about the development of Mendoza in the fields of infrastructure, tourism,science, technology and education.
"The delegation is visiting Gujarat at the invitation of the government to explore wide-ranging collaboration in the areas of education, business and science and technology. The visit was coordinated by the Office of International Affairs and its director, Sharad Bansal," MSU registrar Amit Dholakia said.
Facing water woes every year, residents of a village in the Ghoghamba taluka of Panchmahal have started work on an old check dam in the village. The villagers plan to do the same with other check dams in the area as dams hardly have any water after winter.
The residents from Gajapura have been spending weekends removing foliage and silt from a dam to ensure that it can store more water. The villagers have to look for sources of water every year after winter as water in check dams and other sources dries up. While drinking water is available, irrigation remains a major problem and the ground water table is also depleting.
During a round of the forests in the area along with social workers, the villagers noticed that there was a stream that had some water in it, but it was ending up in a dam that had thick vegetation growth and its capacity was low due to silt deposits.
It was also damaged.
Instead of complaining and ruing over the problem, the villagers decided to take the onus of cleaning the catchment area of the dam themselves. Villagers gathered at the dam every Sunday to clean it. Ramsing Nayak, a resident of the village said, "We felt that if we clean and do minor repairs, the dam can store much more water. There is a possibility of some water being stored in it even now." He pointed out that other check dams in the locality had gone dry like every year.
The villagers were encouraged to take the initiative by a group that is actively working for tribal development in Ghoghamba and Pavijetpur talukas. Anil Satapathy, who has stitched together a team that includes government officers, said that the idea was to have water users groups at village-level to ensure that water resources are managed properly. "We are also looking at other activities to bring in awareness about water-related issues," Satapathy said.
A retired district education officer M M Javia not only motivated the tribals, but himself put in hard labour along with them to work on the dam.
"One has to become a part of the group to create the right atmosphere," he said. The forest department recently raised objections to the work stating that it should have been done with their permission, but the villagers hope to tide over this minor hiccup by discussing the issue with the department.
If you spot a juicy, healthy cucumber or green capsicum costing more than the usual price in the market, don't mistake them for the imported lot - they might have come from a farm house near Vadodara or, to be precise, a polyhouse in rural Vadodara. Ditto for the gerberas or the Dutch roses that the neighbourhood florist hands out on every special day.
The agriculture scene in the district, long used to the traditional, conventional crops like cotton, groundnut or tuar dal is perking up, with sights of red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, yellow and red capsicums, the bright flash of pomegranate flower or the velvety softness of Dutch roses, gerberas or stevia plant.
The change is being pioneered by a clutch of progressive farmers, who have shifted about 84,000 sq metre or 21 acres of land in the district to protected cultivation with automation, this year alone, according to figures available with district horticulture department.
The recently introduced government subsidy on polyhouses and drip irrigation was the initial attraction, but early results of four fold hike on yield and major reductions in input costs means that the experiment is yielding fruits, literally.
"I am expecting 40 times more returns from my Dutch roses in the one acre polyhouse as compared to traditional crops which I grew last year," says Monish Patel from Vadodara, who set up his first polyhouse in Gardhiya village of Savli taluka, two months ago. The engineering graduate and a former liquor store owner in the USA returned home recently to take over his father's farms. "I save on input costs, labour costs and cut out the risk of vagaries of weather in open farming. The market for flowers is huge in both Vadodara and Delhi," he adds. During 'harvest', Patel expects 1500 to 2000 rose stems to be ready for market everyday, which would fetch him a price between Rs 5 to Rs 16 each.
Ashwin Patel is now an old player in the region after having grown exotic veggies like red cabbage, red and yellow capsicums, cherry tomatoes and gerbera flowers in his polyhouses at the village Teentalav in Dabhoi. "Initial investment is slightly high, but one can break-even in one year to four years. The advantage is in the ability to control the climatic conditions within the polyhouses and to reduce pest attacks and input costs," he says. However, the condition is not yet conducive for a major shift to farming of exotic vegetables, as there is not enough market here for the same, feels Ashwin, a BE degree holder, who imported his polyhouse from Israel.
'Khilkhilahat', the Hindi word for 'laughter', is the name given to the recently introduced central-state assistance scheme, under which two air-conditioned vans were flagged off here on Monday.
The service is aimed to bring smiles on the faces of mothers of newborn children, who get a free ride back home with their newborns, 48-hours after a normal delivery at any government maternity clinic or hospital, district health officials said.
The scheme, which is jointly managed by National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), GVK-EMRI and state government was introduced in September last year with the delivery of one AC van at SSG hospital. On Monday, the service was augmented by two more vans, one of which would be placed in Jamunabai government maternity hospital while the other would go to SSG hospital. Jamunabai hospital conducts 3,500 to 4,000 deliveries every year, a district health official stated.
The two new vans, which were flagged off by divisional deputy director (health) Dr Bhagwat Prasad Itari, dropped eight new mothers to their homes at various places in the city. The service also includes gift-packs of one kg of 'sukhdi' for mothers and literature on precautions to be taken for handling newborns and mothers, besides the vaccination schedule. The vans are also equipped with LCD screens which continue to flash the precautions and vaccination schedules during the ride back to home.
"Earlier, the families often faced problems while carrying their newborn babies home by other means of transport. Now the babies and their mothers would reach home safe and happy with the introduction of this facility," said Dr Itari.
Members of royal families from across Gujarat came together under one roof for the first time after Independence on Monday. The families were invited for a convention called under the banner of Samasta Gujarat Rajput Samaj (SGRS) at Laxmi Vilas Palace. While the royals maintained that the meet was apolitical, the presence of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the meet raised many eyebrows.
Gujarat RSS head Dr Jayanti Bhadeshiya also attended the meet along with scion of Baroda royal family Samarjitsinh Gaekwad. "It was first such attempt to come together and talk about development. We hope to solve problems faced by the Rajput community and bring unity among the royal families," Gaekwad said.
Over 160 members from 81 royal families from erstwhile states attended the meet that went on for four hours. SGRS has decided to organize a similar meet on September 29. Bhagwat called upon the Rajput community to unite by forgetting caste and creed differences. He said he was happy to see the royal families together for the first time.
"The common Rajputs have seen no progress. We want to start educational institutes and give them scholarships. There are about 60 lakh Rajputs in Gujarat. We passed a resolution during the meet to come together irrespective of caste differences," said Jayendrasinh Jadeja, member of SGRS core committee.
When asked why Bhagwat was invited, Jadeja said, "RSS has respect for the culture and heritage of nation and royal families." Raghuveersinhji Chauhan of Sirohi in Rajasthan was a special invitee. Bhagwat Inayatkhanji Kamaluddin of Vanod was also present. When asked about Bhagwat's suggestion to allow re-conversion of Rajputs, who had converted to Islam, Kamaluddin said, "They are his personal views."