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December 5, 2001 - December 5, 2001

Jamnagar :: Demolition drive takes Khambhaliya by storm Wednesday, December 5, 2001

RAJKOT: The axe has finally fallen on a host of encroachments, many of them in the possession of anti-social elements and smugglers, at Khambhaliya, 23 kms from Jamnagar city.

On Tuesday, anti-encroachment squads of the Public Works Department and the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation, with the help of

nearly 2,000 police and SRP personnel, demolished as many as six to seven hotels, guests houses and 'paratha' houses.

These structures had sprung up illegally on prime government land valued at Rs 7 crore.

Giving this information, Jamnagar DSP Satish Verma said as many as 10 JCB machines were pressed into service in the operation which was assisted by officials of the Gujarat Electricity board.

Jamnagar district collector Rohit Pathak supervised the demolition drive.

Khambhaliya, in the recent past, had earned notoriety for large-scale property transfer, employing bogus documents. A police team, led by Verma, had busted a racket usurping prime property, using forged documents, recently.

The gang mostly targeted property belonging to people who were not residing at Khambhaliya for years, but were based in Mumbai or had gone abroad.

According to information made available to 'The Times of India', the role played by chief officer of the Khambhaliya nagarpalika, J S Nakhwa, had come under scrutiny and he was summoned and questioned by Verma.

Some of the prime land that was cleared belonged to one Giriraj Jadeja. A portion of Milan 'paratha' house stood on this land. Other property owned by Jadeja, including Alishan Hotel and Giriraj Hotel, were also demolished.

The bulldozers were deployed near the ST bus stand to crush encroachments allegedly made by Chandubhai Vadher, executive committee member of Khambhaliya nagarpalika. His property, Shakti Hotel, which also housed some STD-PCO booths and a travel agency office, was razed to the ground.

Mapara 'paratha' house, allegedly belonging to Khambhaliya nagarpalika president Vajubhai Dattani's brother, was also demolished.

Bharat Guest house, which had 10 rooms and housed 10 shops on the ground floor was also demolished.

Earlier, DSP Verma kept his men in readiness to meet any law and order situation. Surprisingly, all the known anti-social elements and their henchmen had gone into hiding ever since the demolition drive was announced. Some got themselves admitted to private clinics in Jamnagar, according to sources.

Meanwhile, in a related operation, as many as three properties belonging to a notorious anti-social element, now in police custody, were among those demolished at Datapar village, 9 km from Khambhaliya. It included a shopping centre, a guest house and residential premises.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Junagadh :: Bandh total at Talala Wednesday, December 5, 2001

RAJKOT: If the panchayat poll fervour, that has gripped the region, is totally missing at Talala in Junagadh district, there is a reason.

The people of the town have joined hands and decided to boycott the polls in protest against the denial of Nagar Panchayat status to it.

The town observed a complete bandh on Tuesday as a mark of solidarity.

According to sources in Junagadh collectorate, the people of Talala have also resolved not to go in for the Samras scheme, too, alleging that the state government was not taking their demand seriously. Not a single person had filed their papers as nominations closed on Monday evening.

The town, with a population of 19,706 has 11,500 voters.

According to law, any town which has a population of more than 15,000 must be given the status of a Nagar Panchayat. But, for some strange reason, the authorities have not conferred the status on Talala.

Interestingly, people cutting across caste and political affiliations have joined hands on the issue and this was why the bandh was a success. They have decided to jointly give a memorandum to the district authorities demanding the town be accorded the new status before the elections are held.

When contacted, Junagadh collector Suyana Tomar said, "The village is legally entitled to the status going by last year's census figures. It is up to the government to take a decision in this regard." She said till an alternative arrangement was in place, the administrator would continue to hold charge there.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Bhavnagar :: Headless varsity and Ram bharose education! Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Let higher education in the 21st century transform into a high-tech service with both head and feet secure in other world centres, but we here in Saurashtra run one of our cherished institutions on simple Ram bharose! After all, Lord Ram engulfs our ruling party's election manifesto, so why not leave higher education, too, to Ram and keep our eyes shut?

Incidentally, I was one of those activists who was imprisoned in Bhavnagar for demanding a university in this hallowed cultural centre in 1967, together with about a dozen other colleagues leading a broad-based people's movement for the purpose.

While demanding such a university, people cherished the heritage of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Zaverchand Meghani, who both studied at the city's Shamaldas College. How can the new generations grapple with modern science, technology and commerce without their own temple of learning?

Of course, they finally got their own university to do that. But alas, nobody had bargained for such a calamity as having a university without a chief! Prof Vidyut Joshi, the last illustrious vice-chancellor left after reorganising the university on a firm footing, both academically and financially, on completing his term in 1998. But the process of leaving the entire institution headless began from the time the BJP came to power.

Just consider the following facts:

Prof Bharat Oza was appointed as in-charge V-C on November 6 1998, while the process of formation of a select committee to choose a V-C was on. Three distinguished persons were appointed on this committee, including the former high court justice Amubhai Rawani as the nominee of the governor.

After holding its three meetings within a few months, this committee forwarded a panel of three names for the governor to choose from - Allahabad's Prof I P Singh, Dr Munikumar Mehta of Vadodara and Prof Bharat Oza of Bhavnagar.

The governor sent back the proposal saying they should reconsider the names. Nobody knows why. One more meeting of the search committee was thus held but it stuck to the three names proposed.

Meanwhile, Prof Singh was appointed somewhere else. The governor now had a choice of two names, but the BJP authorities left them in the lurch, perhaps finding them unfit!

In the meanwhile, a former vice-chancellor, Shankarbhai Dave, made a plea to the High Court demanding implementation of the search committee's recommendation.

Fed up and after falling sick, in-charge V-C Prof Bharat Oza resigned, handing over the charge to Prof R V Mehta of the science faculty, but on completing his term as dean, Mehta automatically left the post.

The governor now had to choose between Prof Oza or M. Mehta. But the latter, too, was fed up and expressed his inability to remain on the panel. The government had no option left but to implement the court's order, so Prof Oza was finally appointed in January 2000.

But Prof Oza was again forced to go on sick leave soon and gave the charge to Dr P G Korat for a few months. But Prof Oza went on long leave in March 2001 giving charge, this time around, to law faculty's dean Dr Jitendra Pandya.

Prof Oza was back in June 2001, but only to submit his resignation! Dr Nilaben Oza was appointed as in-charge V-C, but she too threw in the towel in the wake of a prolonged stir by teachers, but still continues to hold the portfolio!

In short, it is anybody's guess as to how the administration is being run when no V-C has been appointed for a full period. It is not known why the government took so long to make an appointment. The only conclusion one would draw is that of total negligence and Ram bharose mentality of the higher education mandarins. "The persons we have are no good, and those good outside are not ours," is perhaps what the Sangh Parivar leaders say to each other! It is the same in many other public sector units and institutions, because of such a sectarian mentality.
Batuk Vora

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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58 per cent success in polio drive Wednesday, December 5, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The pulse polio immunisation drive, under the aegis of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, recorded 58.12 per cent success rate on the first day with as many as 2.89 lakh children administered with the polio vaccine.

Maximum vaccinations of children below five years of age were recorded in the central zone (63,463) in the Vatva ward and the lowest was in the west zone with 40,117.

The 100 battalion of Rapid Action Force also participated in the national polio immunisation programme by setting up five immunisation camps at Vastral, Ratanpura, Mahadevnagar, Sumin Park and Shreji Park. At least 3,615 children were administered polio drops at these camps.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Rs 2,400-cr irrigation project approved Wednesday, December 5, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The state government has approved a major Rs 2,400-crore irrigation project based on Narmada waters to be released through a pipeline network in North Gujarat's Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Banaskantha, Patan and Gandhinagar districts, where the ground water level is sinking at an alarming rate posing a great threat to the agriculture sector.

Under the project, Narmada waters would be pumped from two places and released in eight reservoirs like Dharoi, Hathmati, Meshwo, Dantiwada, Sipu, Guhai and Chimnabai. The water would be utilised to irrigate huge areas of cultivable land in these districts and which will result in an additional agricultural production of over Rs 1,200 crore per annum.

The new dispensation headed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi has decided to accord highest priority to the Narmada project and irrigation schemes, and the project was first to be finalised in that direction.

State finance minister Nitin Patel told TNN that Rs 311 crore has been earmarked for the first phase of the Narmada waters-based irrigation project, the foundation of which was laid by Modi last week.

As per the schedule worked out by irrigation department officials, the entire project would be completed in the next 18 to 20 months and once commissioned it is expected to change the face of North Gujarat's economy.

The chief minister has evinced keen interest in the project as ground water is fast depleting in North Gujarat following the haphazard use of water by farmers in past few years coupled with the failure of monsoons in some parts of the region. The reservoirs are fast drying up due to inadequate rainfall.

"This project is aimed at saving the agriculture sector producing foodgrains like pulses, spices and medicinal herbs like Isabgol, which is being exported to several European and Gulf countries," said Patel.

In addition to the augmentation of irrigation potential, the government would also save a sizeable amount of around 25 per cent on subsidy given to farmers by the Gujarat Electricity Board on power consumption. This amounts to about Rs 2,000 crore.

Patel said the water supplied through this project would be equivalent to the water drawn by 12,000 tubewells functioning round the clock, 365 days a year, in the region where water has become a costly commodity in the past few years.

While referring to ambitious Narmada project, the minister disclosed that the state government has mobilised all possible sources for the implementation of all ongoing work. He added that Rs 100 crore will be provided every month for the project, the lifeline of the state.

The state government, he said, has also decided to give high priority to complete irrigation schemes in Saurashtra region where the shortage of water might force farmers to migrate. A large number of farmers from Porbander, Jamnagar and Rajkot districts have started purchasing agricultural land in Surendranagar and Ahmedabad to avail the irrigation facilities in these districts.

"Along with adequate budgetary allocations for the Narmada and other irrigation projects, the government is equally alive to the funds required for the social sector. Under no circumstances core sectors like health, education and other welfare projects would be allowed to suffer for need of funds," the finance minister assured.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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