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October 28, 2001 - October 29, 2001

Bharuch :: Environmentalists slam NEERI report on Amlakhadi Monday, October 29, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Environmentalists have strongly criticised the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute's (NEERI) report on pollution control in the heavily-polluted Amlakhadi channel of Bharuch district.

They stated the standards recommended by NEERI are ideal but not achievable by any industry or common effluent treatment plant (CETP), even by using expensive treatment methods. They instead stressed on the need of turning to cleaner production technologies and zero-discharge goals and not on developing standards for Amlakhadi.

Activists who participated in a meeting organised by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board at Gandhinagar, strongly criticised the report and demanded that it needs to be prepared in a scientific manner.

Representing the Centre for Social Justice, Mahesh Pandya described the report as incomplete and was creating confusion on the water balance aspect.

Amlakhadi, the 25-km-long natural channel flowing parallel to Narmada river, is heavily polluted by the highly-toxic and polluted effluents discharged by three major industrial estates -- Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadiya -- and scores of other industries.

Anand Mazgaonkar of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti took a strong exception of GPCB on not providing any time to the participants and distributing only the executive summary and not the complete report.

NEERI was entrusted with the task of preparing a report to work out the standards for discharge of treated waste water into Amlakhadi.

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


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Environmentalists slam NEERI report on Amlakhadi Monday, October 29, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Environmentalists have strongly criticised the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute's (NEERI) report on pollution control in the heavily-polluted Amlakhadi channel of Bharuch district.

They stated the standards recommended by NEERI are ideal but not achievable by any industry or common effluent treatment plant (CETP), even by using expensive treatment methods. They instead stressed on the need of turning to cleaner production technologies and zero-discharge goals and not on developing standards for Amlakhadi.

Activists who participated in a meeting organised by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board at Gandhinagar, strongly criticised the report and demanded that it needs to be prepared in a scientific manner.

Representing the Centre for Social Justice, Mahesh Pandya described the report as incomplete and was creating confusion on the water balance aspect.

Amlakhadi, the 25-km-long natural channel flowing parallel to Narmada river, is heavily polluted by the highly-toxic and polluted effluents discharged by three major industrial estates -- Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadiya -- and scores of other industries.

Anand Mazgaonkar of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti took a strong exception of GPCB on not providing any time to the participants and distributing only the executive summary and not the complete report.

NEERI was entrusted with the task of preparing a report to work out the standards for discharge of treated waste water into Amlakhadi.

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


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State to submit action plan to deal with anthrax Monday, October 29, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: A team of senior state health department officials, headed by health minister Ashok Bhatt, is leaving for New Delhi on Monday to attend a meeting of state health secretaries convened by Union health minister C P Thakur to review the preparedness against biological and chemical warfare.

Bhatt has been summoned to the official-level meeting because Gujarat is the first Indian state to have prepared an action plan to deal with anthrax. He will brief the officials on the possible precautionary measures and other drills to be followed in case of an anthrax attack.

Bhatt will be accompanied by health secretary S K Nanda and other experts from medical colleges, who have helped prepare the 40-page action plan against anthrax.

Microbiology experts from civil hospitals of Ahmedabad, Jamnagar and Surat have examined as many as seven suspected packages, including three envelopes containing white powder. The biology department head of Government Medical College, Jamnagar, checked the contents of two packages received by Reliance Industries from the US. But nothing threatening was found from either of the packages -- one contained chocolates, while the other had five books.

Similarly a letter received by the state home minister's office in Gandhinagar, that was handed over to experts at B J Medical College, too tested negative. The Surat mayor had also received such a letter but the tests conducted found nothing threatening as feared.

According to Bhatt, the state government has already asked for a financial assistance of Rs 5 crore from the Centre to strengthen the existing facilities to deal with a possible anthrax threat. Besides this, the state was the first to organise workshops in all its six major cities which are now well-equipped to tackle any crisis arising out of anthrax. Primary and community health centres too have adequate stocks of antibiotics, he said.

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


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City crime branch arrests notorious criminal Monday, October 29, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The city crime branch caught notorious history-sheeter Shaukat Husain Hajibhai Shaikh who is wanted in a kidnapping offence of an Ahmedabad businessman and a double murder case lodged with the Vadodara police.

Acting on a tip-off, PI Tarun Barot and PSIs R B Joshi and H B Gohil kept a watch at the city bus stop near Calico Mills, and arrested him on Saturday. Shaikh was involved in the kidnapping of a linen trader Babubhai Mansuri from Dhalgarwad last year where his accomplice Arun Ramji Gajjar was arrested and Shaikh had fled.

Later Shaikh took cover in Vadodara, and in April this year he was accused of killing the driver and cleaner of a Toyota vehicle along with Rustom Saiyed and Anil Marathi, for which he is wanted by the Vadodara police. Shaikh has been remanded to custody till Sunday.

One nabbed for murder attempt: A shopkeeper and four others were attacked at Dilli Chakla following an argument on Saturday night, and had to be rushed to V S Hospital for treatment. Two inebriated persons, Jaganiyo and his brother, came to buy soda and milk from Haresh Kantilal Modi's shop and were asked to leave when they began abusing the shopkeeper.

After sometime, they collected people from the neighbourhood, and armed with swords, sticks, and pipes the attacked Hareshbhai, Rajeshbhai, Ashwinbhai, Madhukantaben and Hemendrabhai. The Shahpur police booked Rakesh alias Barlakh Bachhubhai Shah and 14 others for attempt to murder and arrested Govind Sitaram Marathe.

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


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Bt.gene cotton row likely to split farmers Sunday, October 28, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Farmers in Gujarat are likely to get split down the middle over the recent controversy on the use of unapproved Bt.gene seeds planted in about 9,000 acres in the state as both the state and Central governments take divergent stands on the issue.

To further complicate the issue, the two largest farmers' organisations in the state have also taken diametrically opposite stances on the issue and are likely to elicit support through representations and public rallies.

The Sharad Joshi-led Shetkari Sangathan, which has support in the central and south Gujarat regions is already preparing for a big rally in Bharuch on Tuesday to canvass for freedom for the farmers to choose the kinds of agricultural inputs they would like to use. The Bharatiya Kisan Sangathan, a RSS-led outfit, will meet Chief Minister Modi in Gandhinagar on the same day to warn against a ploy by multinational organisations to make the farmers dependent on these 'terminator' seeds.

Significantly, while the Union ministry of environment has ordered the destruction of these crops, the Union textiles ministry has supported the cause of the farmers who have used the genetically-engineered seeds. Textiles minister Kashiram Rana had in fact said the seeds are not only producing better quality cotton but have also withstood the onslaught of pests where other varieties have failed.

The Gujarat government, which has taken a stand in support of the Bt.gene seed, will take up the issue at a meeting convened by the Union government in New Delhi on Wednesday. However, Modi, who is close to the RSS, will have to take into account the serious reservations which the BKS has on the issue.

The national secretary of BKS, Jivanbhai Patel has said that the seeds were an attempt by multinational companies to impose terminator seeds on Indian farmers so that every year these farmers are forced to purchase seeds from these companies. A well-known proponent of 'swadeshi', it is yet to be seen what stance Modi finally takes on the issue. On one hand, Kashiram Rana and state agriculture minister Purshottam Rupala are accusing the "pesticides" lobby for opposing the new seed, while BKS is pointing fingers at the "terminator seeds lobby".

However, Sharad Joshi is seeking a wider debate on the issue by inviting farmers' leaders from other states to join the Bharuch rally. Those who are expected to attend include Sardar Bhupender Singh Maan (Punjab), Chaudhari Prem Simha Dahiya (Haryana), P Chengal Reddy (AP) and the president of Kisan Co-ordination Committee, Saroj Kashikar.

Joshi said in a statement that Gujarat's farmers have been able to save their crop of cotton from the attack of bolloworms, thanks to the use of a special seed. The crops from all other seeds have been devastated by the pest. Use of Bt-gene cotton seed in India was blocked by the Central ministry of environment and forests last May, even though other cotton producing countries have gone ahead with the use of transgenic cotton.

And while others are talking of a "pesticides lobby" and a "terminator seeds lobby", Joshi is referring to a "green lobby" in India is going all out to have the crops destroyed. He said the farmers used the seeds that they could procure through normal channels and cannot be faulted if the seed, eventually, turned out to be of transgenic variety.

It was government's duty to ensure that the proscribed seed was not marketed. This year, the cotton crop has failed in Gujarat with the exception of the proscribed variety. "Clearly, the new variety has proved its merit and superiority," Joshi said.

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


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