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October 19, 2001 - October 19, 2001

Gujarat quake figure revised to 12,251 on eve of CM's visit Friday, October 19, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Kutch quake toll continues to fall. As Chief Minister Narendra Modi prepares for his first visit to the region on Friday, the district authorities have come up with a figure of 12,251. And even this is tentative and could be off the mark by about 100!

In the government's first published document on the quake brought out by the Directorate of Information in April, just two months after the January 26 disaster, the figure was put at 18,315. Initially, a few days after the quake, figures like 30,000 were being bandied about and defence minister George Fernandes had pegged the figure at 1 lakh.

Once the dust settled down in subsequent months, official documents mentioned the toll as 17,553, 15,552 and 13,333 in their inter-actions with international lending agencies. But the figure of 13333, arrived at after painstaking scrutiny in July, has fallen further with the latest count putting it at 12251, according to sources. Kutch collector Harsh Chibber still puts the toll at "anything between 12000 and 12500".

Confusion persists because there seems to be some duplication here and there. Official sources say the initial figures were inflated because the deaths were reported in more than one place _ police station, block development office, tahsildar's office and municipalities and panchayats. Besides, in the same office more than one relative had reported the death of the same person.

The records have all been computerised now, but Chibber says "there are still some loose ends left to be tied". The toll also got inflated because several compensation claims filed were found to be bogus on scrutiny. There are still about 90 cases where the persons who were cremated are still unidentified.

In all, compensation amounting to Rs 103 crore has been paid in 11,072 cases of death which have been confirmed. In some cases, compensation has not been paid because of legal disputes involving the heirs. Compensation is being been paid at the rate of Rs 60,000 for children and Rs 1 lakh for adults.

Official figures indicate that Rs 119 crore has been paid to about 2.23 lakh persons whose houses were partially damaged. A total of 2.63 lakh houses were partially damaged in the quake. Besides, Rs 117 crore has been paid to 69,312 persons whose houses have been totally damaged. A total of 96,812 houses were totally damaged in the district.

The shortfall in the number of persons paid the compensation for damaged houses is because the money, in the rest of the cases, has been routed through NGOs. The district has also spent about Rs 23.50 crore for providing temporary shelter to 21,903 families.

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

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'Sheri garba' organisers facing funds crunch Friday, October 19, 2001

VADODARA: Picture this: A young man dressed in embroidered 'kurta', 'dhoti' and 'pagdi' punches in his computerised card into a machine and enters the new millennium garba ground replete with jazzy advertisements, sound systems and a colourful traditional set up.

Then there is this: Small narrow by-lanes of old city areas filled with lights and music on loudspeakers. The road is converted into a garba ground once night falls, but hardly any banners of advertisers at the 'sheris'.

While most big-time garba organisers have managed to receive sponsorship despite the current recessionary trends in the market, it is the small-time garba organisers in the 'sheris' of the city which have to contend with shortage of funds. 'Where Technology Meets Tradition' is the mission statement of the Baroda Information Technology Association which is organising a 'garba mahotsav' in the city.

Despite recessionary trends in the economy, corporate houses in city are making the most out of the Navratri festival this year. While restaurants are introducing special Navratri fare to attract customers, others are sponsoring a large number of 'garba mahotsavs' in the city.

United Way of Baroda has received corporate sponsorship from its corporate supporters in the city, and the Welcom Group of hotels is now associating itself with the garba in a big way, says UWB garba organising committee chairman Yogendra Gangawal.

"This year, we have a product display of Palio from Fiat. In addition to this the Om Kotak Mahindra insurance company and other stalls have been set up," he said.

This year the Baroda Information Technology Association (BITA) has organised its own garba with unique features. BITA president Dinesh Patel says: "We have decided to give Vadodara a special traditional garba function with the Ravin Naik group. This year our mission statements are emphasise on technology and "Avo Ujagara Banaviye Jagran".

"We have also received a number of corporate sponsorship. One of our major sponsors is Skumar.Com, AT&T, Bhatt Brothers, Pepsi, Tata Infotech, Baroda Dairy Sugam and Cream 27 ice cream amongst others," he said.

At the Way to Unity Trust garbas organised at the Laxmi Vilas Palace grounds too several corporate sponsorships have been received, including those like Colgate, Damodardas Jewellers, Revance Boutique, Jay Associates, Baroda Prints, Lamex Quartz, Shah Investment consultants amongst others.

However, corporate sponsorships have failed to reach small-time organisers in city areas. Paresh Patel, who organises the Jyotipark Sanskrutik 'garba mahotsav' says this year too they were unable to receive sponsorship. "We have stalls, but no other sponsorships. Around 25 residential societies in this area contribute through voluntary donations to help organise the mahotsav," he said.

Similarly, 'sheri' garba organisers too complain that no sponsorship has come their way. "We have a long tradition of organising garbas on the roads here, and though no sponsorship has come our way we would organise the function with the little that the residents have shell out," says Nagarwada Yuvak mandal pramukh Dileep Patel.

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

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Sewage flow into Tapi Friday, October 19, 2001

SURAT: SMC in a recent meeting decided to stop the flow of sewage into Tapi river, the main source of water for the city, by November 1. The corporation also decided to release around 1,500 to 2,000 cusecs of water from the Ukai dam to maintain a water level of 4.70 metres in the Singanpore weir-cum-causeway in the city.
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SMC cleanliness drive Friday, October 19, 2001

SURAT: Health officials of Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) swooped down heavily last week on those responsible for throwing rubbish and garbage on the roads in Katargram zone. People working in paan shops, hotels and other shops in the vicinity were made to clean up the area, said a press note.

Fishmongers sitting opposite the crematorium were also removed. Administrative charges amounting to Rs 1,550 were collected during the entire exercise, the press note added.

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Townships celebrate in 'small is beautiful' style Friday, October 19, 2001

VADODARA: They are small in scale yet elegant. They combine class with a homely atmosphere. They all generate oodles of gaiety and fervour. They are the 'township garbas' of the city and its surroundings as PSUs and private companies host their own garbas during Navratri.

Be it the oil giants like ONGC, IOC and IPCL or the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) or private companies like Alembic, the motto seems to be "small is beautiful" as officers and their families bring their best dresses out and get ready to put their best foot forward.

Being performed for over half-a-century now, the garba organised by the Alembic group, begun by late Dhirajben Amin to ensure unity, has grown from an informal affair where the performers both sang and danced to a professional one now. While about a 100 people participated and saw the garba in the 50s, the garba in the Alembic ground now attracts about 8,000 people with music by professional singers belonging to the Shruti group.

At the Gujarati Medium School ground, Gujarat Sanskar Samaj of Indian Oil Corporation's Gujarat Refinery began the Navratri Mahotsava from Wednesday as thousands poured in to join the garba and watch the proceedings as singing group from city Shreeji Garba Vrinda belt out the songs.

The lush green lawns of the Tapovan Temple Complex is playing host to the children of the IPCL township for nine nights as the Petrochemical Township Devasthan Trust organises the Shishu Garba Mahotsav. Though this garba gets over at 10 pm, the music and songs by Harmony group is providing nights of pure fun.

The township's garba ground is also attracting thousands of people with music by city-based music group Swar Nad and every participant putting in their best performance to emerge the best dancer in three different groups.

The competitive spirit is also mixed with the fun and frolic at the ONGC stadium where people are also putting in their best performances. "Every night, about 3,000 to 4,000 play the garba to the tune of the city-based Swar Archana group. Best dancer awards will be provided in three categories," says ONGC Employees' Welfare Committee vice-president Rajiv Kumar.

In nearby Anand, the Garba Lawns of the NDDB begins to fill up as every night. The milk capital is reverberating with the sound of garba as about 1,500 to 2,000 people gather every night to join the revelry.

"Not just the NDDB employees and their children, we have also invited students from Anand schools, students from Vidyanagar University girls' hostel and medical students from Karamsad Hospital for a one-night performance," says Manoj Inayat, cultural secretary of Boho Club that organises the NDDB garba.

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

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