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October 20, 2001 - October 21, 2001

Saurashtra fishing in troubled waters Sunday, October 21, 2001

BY NARANDAS THACKER, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: Saurashtra fishing is in troubled waters. After Pakistani piracy, now it is the Afghan war which is set to inflict a body-blow to the fishing industry which had thrived on the Saurashtra-Kutch sea-coast in the last two decades.

The sea-food exports of Gujarat account for nearly 30 per cent of the total exports of the country. Veraval tops in Gujarat with 65 percent of the total exports.

The Afghan war has put the sea-food exports in jeopardy. According to the sources connected with fish exports, which cover the US, UK, European countries, China, Japan etc. The total sea-food exports from Gujarat state last year were 1.25 lakh tonnes and valued at Rs 615 crore. This was about 28 per cent of India's exports.

The Saurashtra exporters apprehend that their business might be affected to the tune of 40 to 50 per cent if the Afghan war becomes a long-drawn affair.

Sea-food exporting units were already facing recessionary impact and now the latest war has given them a major blow. It was stated that the prices of sea-foods in the international market have gone down by 30 to 40 per cent.

On the top of this, insurance companies have jacked up premium rates of ships carrying sea-foods. Consequently, the purchasing capacity of several importing countries has been badly affected. Industry sources maintain that if the war escalated and went on indefinitely, perhaps the shipping companies may discontinue their operations for sometime till the situation improves. This would certainly sound the death-knell for the fishing industry in Saurashtra, which is already in the grip of severe recession.

It was understood that the Union ministry of commerce was seized of this latest development. The head office of the fisheries wing of the ministry based at Kochi has sought a detailed report from its Veraval office about the likely impact of the Afghan war on sea-food exports.

The fishing operations off Dwarka have also been badly hit as a leading American company, having its establishment at Shivrajpur village in Dwarka taluka, has suspended its operations in the wake of the Afghan war. This has resulted into joblessness for about 1,000 from Dwarka, Okha, Salaya, Bedi and other coastal areas who were deriving their livelihood from fishing.

The US company was purchasing sea-food products from Rupen and Dalda fishing ports near Dwarka. Operations at these twin ports have been stopped causing restlessness and concern among the fishermen. It was learnt that the sea-food processing and export company had also planned to launch similar unit at Jakhau in the border district of Kutch. But in view of the latest developments this project has been shelved for now.

More than a lakh fishermen in Saurashtra and Kutch are subsisting on fishing, directly or indirectly. The unemployment scene would become more acute as more and more sea-food companies would curtail their operations in the wake of the war.

Similarly, with the dwindling exports, the Union government too would stand to lose. Others who will be affected include transporters, the owners of chain of cold storages, labourers, handling agents etc.

Fishermen in Saurashtra and Kutch are constantly under the threat of Pakistani piracy. There have been scores of incidents of intrusion by Pakistani trawlers into Indian territorial waters, mainly on the Kutch coast between Jakhau and Koteshwar ports on the Western tip from where Pakistani coast is a stone's throw.

Many a time, fishermen from Porbandar, Mangrol, Veraval, Dwarka and Okha also fall prey to Pakistani piracy. The local fishermen contend that Pakistani pirates are bold because they have the backing of the Pakistani naval guards.

As against this, the Saurashtra-Kutch seacoast is open and unguarded. The common refrain is that Indian fishermen do not get any protection.

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


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Saurashtra fishing in troubled waters Sunday, October 21, 2001

BY NARANDAS THACKER, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: Saurashtra fishing is in troubled waters. After Pakistani piracy, now it is the Afghan war which is set to inflict a body-blow to the fishing industry which had thrived on the Saurashtra-Kutch sea-coast in the last two decades.

The sea-food exports of Gujarat account for nearly 30 per cent of the total exports of the country. Veraval tops in Gujarat with 65 percent of the total exports.

The Afghan war has put the sea-food exports in jeopardy. According to the sources connected with fish exports, which cover the US, UK, European countries, China, Japan etc. The total sea-food exports from Gujarat state last year were 1.25 lakh tonnes and valued at Rs 615 crore. This was about 28 per cent of India's exports.

The Saurashtra exporters apprehend that their business might be affected to the tune of 40 to 50 per cent if the Afghan war becomes a long-drawn affair.

Sea-food exporting units were already facing recessionary impact and now the latest war has given them a major blow. It was stated that the prices of sea-foods in the international market have gone down by 30 to 40 per cent.

On the top of this, insurance companies have jacked up premium rates of ships carrying sea-foods. Consequently, the purchasing capacity of several importing countries has been badly affected. Industry sources maintain that if the war escalated and went on indefinitely, perhaps the shipping companies may discontinue their operations for sometime till the situation improves. This would certainly sound the death-knell for the fishing industry in Saurashtra, which is already in the grip of severe recession.

It was understood that the Union ministry of commerce was seized of this latest development. The head office of the fisheries wing of the ministry based at Kochi has sought a detailed report from its Veraval office about the likely impact of the Afghan war on sea-food exports.

The fishing operations off Dwarka have also been badly hit as a leading American company, having its establishment at Shivrajpur village in Dwarka taluka, has suspended its operations in the wake of the Afghan war. This has resulted into joblessness for about 1,000 from Dwarka, Okha, Salaya, Bedi and other coastal areas who were deriving their livelihood from fishing.

The US company was purchasing sea-food products from Rupen and Dalda fishing ports near Dwarka. Operations at these twin ports have been stopped causing restlessness and concern among the fishermen. It was learnt that the sea-food processing and export company had also planned to launch similar unit at Jakhau in the border district of Kutch. But in view of the latest developments this project has been shelved for now.

More than a lakh fishermen in Saurashtra and Kutch are subsisting on fishing, directly or indirectly. The unemployment scene would become more acute as more and more sea-food companies would curtail their operations in the wake of the war.

Similarly, with the dwindling exports, the Union government too would stand to lose. Others who will be affected include transporters, the owners of chain of cold storages, labourers, handling agents etc.

Fishermen in Saurashtra and Kutch are constantly under the threat of Pakistani piracy. There have been scores of incidents of intrusion by Pakistani trawlers into Indian territorial waters, mainly on the Kutch coast between Jakhau and Koteshwar ports on the Western tip from where Pakistani coast is a stone's throw.

Many a time, fishermen from Porbandar, Mangrol, Veraval, Dwarka and Okha also fall prey to Pakistani piracy. The local fishermen contend that Pakistani pirates are bold because they have the backing of the Pakistani naval guards.

As against this, the Saurashtra-Kutch seacoast is open and unguarded. The common refrain is that Indian fishermen do not get any protection.

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


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Petrol adulteration: CBI to probe naphtha imports Sunday, October 21, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into reports that naphtha imported as fuel for power projects was indeed used to adulterate petrol. The CBI has been given a month's time.

A full bench comprising chief justice DM Dharmadhikari, justice RK Abhichandani and justice DK Trivedi also asked the CBI on Friday, to find out the details of import at Kandla and Mundra ports from the Customs.

This followed a petition by Saurin Shah against the Union of India, director general of foreign trade, secretary ministry of petroleum, superintendent of Customs and CBI Gandhinagar. Advocate Bharat Naik appeared for the petitioner.

The petitioner contended that naphtha is being imported in Gujarat through ports of Kandla and Mundra with permissions for use only as a fuel in power projects and has to be used as such. It should be sold only to power projects or government oil companies.

However, some parties imported naphtha in the guise of using it as a fuel for power projects but diverted it for adulteration in petrol and other fuels, the petitioner contended.

Notices were issued earlier by the court, but no reply was filed. The replies are now to be filed in a month.

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


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Congress in Rajkot a divided lot Sunday, October 21, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: Within just one year, the Congress which had humiliated the BJP in the municipal election is a divided house today. The party had managed to end the BJP's 25-year-old supremacy in the RMC but finds itself in the dock, this time on charge of corruption from party members.

The issue of corruption by standing committee chairman Ladhabhai Borsadiya, his sacking by the city Congress president Manohersinh Jadeja and the matter going to the PCC has snowballed into a major controversy that could eventually take its toll and dent the party's image. There were numerous incidents of severe infighting during the past one year.

While Jadeja rushed to Gandhinagar with over 25 corporators to meet the GPCC president Amarsinh Chaudhary to prove his point, Ladhabhai and his supporters, including minority cell chief Ilyas Khan Pathan and Hemang Vasavada have also reached Gandhingar to buttress their viewpoint.

In fact, the group loyal to Ladhabhai has decided to seek Jadeja's resignation on moral ground. And if the solution was not found in Gandhinagar, the group could approach the central leadership and go to Kamal Nath, who looks after Gujarat affairs.

Incidentally, Mayor Ashok Dangar who was once close to Jadeja has now drifted away from his political mentor and refused to go with him to Gandhinagar. In the 69-member civic body, the Congress has 44 members and the BJP 25.

However, party said on Friday that the Congress in Rajkot was a divided house with groups led by Jadeja, Mansukh Joshi, P C Barot, and others working at cross purposes at various times. Each group tried its best to overshadow the other.

Jadeja, a Kshatriya leader, feels that the Patel lobby was out to get him. So he tried to cut down to size any group opposing him. It was also pointed out by the sources that the demand for resignation of Ladhabhai was a 'show of strength' by the Kshtriya leader but it might boomerang on him.

Jadeja is irked that the mayor and standing committee chairman were not listening to him. His supporters had launched a signature campaign against the mayor on an assurance that they could be given a post after a year. But as things turned out, Ladhabhai was given second term. This angered Meghjibhai Rathod, an aspirant.

Another aspirant Indranil Rajyaguru was tamed and made deputy mayor but the group led by Rathod and leader of the Congress party in the RMC Mohan Sojitra sought the resignation of Ladhabhai to settle old scores.

The BJP which was maintaining a studied silence could not let go this opportunity as it awaited the chance to hit back at the Congress party.

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


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Elusive builders delay consumer cases on broken homes Saturday, October 20, 2001

BY SANJAY PANDEY, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Elusive builders, made respondents in cases related to quake-damaged buildings, were delaying the disposal of a large number of cases filed before consumer courts by staying away from hearings.

Cases filed before the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and the District Consumers Forum in February-March this year against builders, seeking compensation for collapsed buildings during the January 26 quake, are being frequently adjourned due to the absence of respondents.

"We cannot disclose the details of cases to be filed against builders as they might go underground and would not respond," said a Consumer Education & Research Centre (CERC) official pleading anonymity.

CERC is planning to file at least seven cases on behalf of flat owners of an apartment which collapsed during quake in Ambawadi area. Known for their 'speedier redressal' of cases, the consumer courts would take some time for quake-related cases in order to prove the basic facts, say legal experts.

"As far as my case is concerned, respondents have acknowledged the summons and are also appearing before the court but there are a lot many cases where builders have gone incommunicado," says A O Chudgar, a practising consumer lawyer, fighting a case against a builder on behalf of his father whose house collapsed in the quake.

There are more than 50 cases pending with the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission seeking claims for quake-related building damages and another 25 cases are lying with the forum. Apart from these, some 500 cases have been received by the city civil courts for compensation for quake-damaged buildings.

While the slow progress of quake-related cases in civil courts was understood on account of heavy backlog, the non-appearance of respondents is prolonging the disposal time in the consumer courts. "In a majority of the cases, notices have not been received by respondents as most builders are in jails or have gone underground," says Rajiv Mehta, another consumer lawyer, who is fighting at least 15 cases against a public-limited construction company for deficiency in service.

Complainants, mostly flat owners, are now considering to approach the commission to pray for an ex-parte disposal of the cases. "But going for ex-parte disposal would leave ample scope for the respondents to approach the appellate court for quashing the orders citing various reasons for his absence from the hearings," adds Mehta.

Most of the cases have been filed on the ground that builders handed over defective dwelling units, not in compliance with the national building code. The builders were also held liable for offering defective products to customers in most of the cases filed.

"Still consumer courts are a better alternative to redress grievances as they act faster and require a bare minimum expenditure unlike civil courts," says Naynaben Shah, a consumer lawyer. According to her, more and more people should approach consumer courts as they consume less time and do not charge the court fee too.

Experts see another hitch in the disposal of quake-related cases as complainants have to prove the negligence on the part of the builders. "Builders can easily argue giving natural calamity as the reason for the collapse of buildings," comments a lawyer, adding that cases would take a longer time than usual for disposal.

While cases in consumer bodies are lingering on, nobody from the state has till now approached the National Consumer Redressal Commission, which has a jurisdiction of accepting cases beyond Rs 20 lakh. A CERC official said, "Not many respondents are willing to approach the commission due to the high cost involved in litigation to fight a case."

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


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