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October 27, 2001 - October 27, 2001

Modi will join PM on tour to Russia Saturday, October 27, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Chief Minister Narendra Modi is perhaps the first chief minister of Gujarat who has been invited by a prime minister to join him on a foreign tour.

Atal Behari Vajpayee has invited him to join in his proposed tour of Russia where Modi is to sign an MoU with Ashtrakhan's regional administration for boosting bilateral relations between the two regions.

Though the chief minister has been invited to join in the trip to both, US and Russia, Modi has agreed to go to Russia as he is occupied with state affairs. In his programme, being finalised by a team of officials here, Modi is also likely to meet the Gujarati community, mainly students from north Gujarat who are studying medicine and in other higher education faculties there.

A spokesman for the state government said Modi would leave for Moscow along with PM's entourage on November 4, and will attend important meetings spread over four days.

The MoU to be signed by the CM for exchange of delegations of trade and business representatives and cultural organisations was decided during last visit of Russian President Putin to New Delhi.

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

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Dealers cash in on rush for vehicle purchases Saturday, October 27, 2001

AHMEDABAD: In an otherwise sluggish automobile market, Dussehra streaked a silverline on Friday as consumers queued up to take delivery of their vehicles on this auspicious day.

Vehicle purchase on this day is ruled by just a single consideration -- that the day is auspicious for taking delivery of a vehicle. All other market or economic factors withdrew into the background which brought some cheer to automobile dealers, whose inventory had piled up due to the drop in vehicle demand due to the slowing economy.

Leading Hyundai dealer in the city, Sharma Hyundai which was doing an average delivery of five vehicles a day for the past few months did a delivery of 20 cars on Friday. Sharma Hyundai did offer a festival scheme, where a consumer could choose between low-interest finance, a gift or a financial discount, but there was no denying the fact that it was the age-old custom which pierced through the economic gloom to reverse the recessionary trend; even though for a single day.

Cargo Motors received more than 50 inquiries and delivered over 30 cars on Friday. "People wait for the whole year, just to take a delivery on this day. We have offered better finance schemes and gifts both to corporate and public sector consumers to encourage sales in the C (Esteem and Baleno) and C1 (Versa) segment," said Cargo Motors Gujarat Limited general manager Ravi Suri.

At the all-India level, sales this September saw a 22.4 per cent fall at 46,080 units from 59,372 units sold, a year ago. According to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), September sales of utility vehicles and passenger cars together were down 20 per cent at 56,083 units from 69,992 units in the same month last year.

Against such a bleak scenario, Dussehra sales brought some relief to the automobile dealers in terms of such fixed costs like interest on loans acquired by them to stock vehicles. Dealers on an average pay interest at the rate of 12.5 per cent on loans for inventory. Even though they have reduced their inventory level over the last few months Dussehra sales helped to bring it down further.

"The car bookings were done much before September, but with their delivery these orders have been confirmed. It has helped ease the pressure on inventory. About 70 per cent of the sales came from Maruti 800 and Zen, while the remaining 30 per cent came from other models," said Rajendra Kataria, owner of Mutha Automobile -- which delivered 80 cars on Friday. Interestingly, two automobile players -- Maruti and TVS Suzuki -- officially launched their new models a day before Dussehra on Thursday. Adeshwar Motors, dealers for TVS Suzuki in the city, delivered a total of 150 mopeds, Scootys and motorcycles on Friday. "The sale on Friday was more than 100 per cent higher than any normal day sale," said Vijay Shah, Adeshwar Motors' managing director.

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

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Prohibitive licence fees de-spirit liquor shops Saturday, October 27, 2001

AHMEDABAD: At any given point of time, the number of health permit holders who enjoy the official ``sanction'' to drink in Gandhiland barely goes beyond 22,000, half of whom are ex-servicemen, but the number of regular drinkers could very well be a hundred times more.

It is not just the influence of Gandhism or Gujarat's unique disposition on the issue of prohibition that is de-spiriting the expansion of licensed shops selling liquor, but also the prohibitive licence fees and security deposits.

Official sources say that a five-star hotel owner would have to pay at least Rs 3 lakh every year to the prohibition department to get a licence for a liquor shop. This is one of the many reasons why few want to go through the trouble of owning a wine shop in dry Gujarat.

Recently, the prohibition department cancelled the licence for a famous resort in Palanpur. The reason: They failed to pay up their security dues. Not that the popularity rating of the resort declined because of that.

Says Jahangir Cama of Cama Park Plaza hotel which has had a liquor shop for the last 41 years: ``The liquor shop in my hotel is not earning me any extra business. In fact, visitors have to waste time getting a permit to drink.''

The same is the case with Hotel Inder Residency which is among the 22 places in the state having an authorised liquor shop. Liaison officer of the hotel, Laxman Hariramani, points out: ``A customer gets a bottle of Royal Stag at Rs 420 in our hotel and from the bootlegger he gets it for Rs 250, so one can guess a drinker's preference.''

Further, it is easier to get a permit for someone holding a foreign passport, ``but if someone comes from a state other than Gujarat, he would have to fill in a form costing Rs 150 and pay Rs 500 as permit charges to the prohibition department for enjoying a bottle of liquor here, the minimum price of which at an authorised shop is Rs 320'', Hariramani adds.

Besides, the hotel pays Rs 53,000 every three months towards salaries and establishment charges of the sub-inspector and constable posted at these shops to ensure that things are going about the legal way.

Sources say that visitors to a water park in the state are often caught unawares by the fact that the place has an authorised liquor shop but people can only drink within the four walls.

The irony of the policy is that the annual revenue of these shops borders Rs 20 crore from sales while the state earns Rs 40 crore as excise duty but loses out on a revenue of nearly Rs 600 crore on account of prohibition, says a highly placed official. Former tourism minister Suresh Mehta did talk of relaxing some of the licensing norms for foreign tourists but nothing much happened.

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

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Five sentenced to life in murder case Saturday, October 27, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A city court sentenced five men to life imprisonment for killing two persons, including a minor, in April 1998, following a dispute over bootlegging.

Additional sessions judge Z K Sayyad sentenced Alam Parmar, Mushtaq Parmar, Irfan Parmar, Mohammad Hussain Chipa, Anwar Chotabhai Mewati, for attacking and killing Natrajan and a 12-year--old boy Yusuf.

According to the prosecution, the dispute arose over jurisdiction in the business of smuggled liquor. The five accused had gone to settle scores at Natrajan's place on April 22, 1998.

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

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Junagadh :: Fire crackers seized at Junagadh Saturday, October 27, 2001

JUNAGADH: The district administration seized fire crackers worth Rs 2.59 lakh on Thursday from traders who had no licence to sell the item.

Assistant collector Ajay Bhadu on instructions of collector Sunayna Tomar carried out raids and found stock registers of fire crackers were not properly maintained and firecrackers were sold without any licence.

The administration has advised traders in the city and rural areas to get licence under the Explosives Act if they wished to stock fire crackers.

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

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