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October 17, 2001 - October 17, 2001

Death of a leopard sparks a row Wednesday, October 17, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The death of a leopard in Tavara village of Waghodia sparked off a row between the Gujarat Society for Prevention of Cruelty on Animals (GSPCA) and the forest department here on Monday.

The leopard, approximately one-and-a-half-year-old, was found dead in the farm of former sarpanch of Tavara village, Shantilal Patel. In his statement to the police Patel said that at around 9 am he saw the animal lying stationary in his field. Patel told the police that though the animal was lying flat on the ground, it was still breathing heavily and collapsed after sometime.

GSPCA, however, alleged the leopard died due to the negligence of the forest authorities, who wasted crucial time in arriving on the spot. Forest authorities, on the other hand, said that by the time they reached the spot the leopard had already died.

"Veterinary doctor Makwana had checked it and declared it dead. Later, the autopsy report confirmed the animal had worms in its lever which caused its death," range forest officer M R Patel said.

GSPCA however contradicted the forest department theory and said it had received confirmed information from Waghodia mamlatdar Chadrakant Solanki and Vadodara rural police that the leopard was lying in an unconscious state when found in the field and could have been saved with timely medical aid.

"At 9 am we received a call from Waghodia mamlatdar Chandrakant Solanki that a leopard was lying on the outskirts of Tavara village. We also received another call from one assistant sub inspector of police who said that the animal seemed to be poisoned. We informed these two people to contact forest department officials and relay the information but the latter was slow in reacting," GSPCA secretary Snehal Bhatt said in a letter faxed to principal chief conservator of forest Sanat Chavan in Gandhinagar.

Bhatt alleged that when she contacted Solanki at around 12 pm, the forest officials had not reached the spot yet. "We were shocked to find that they could not get any responsible forest officer on the number we provided. The mamlatdar was told the DFO was out of station. He than requested the person concerned to urgently try to provide him some staff, but for two hours there was no response. The mamlatdar also told us that even local forest officials were not available, and by the time he got them the leopard was already dead," Bhatt said.

She said that such incidents of negligence had occurred earlier as well. "This has happened again and again. We want NGOs like us be allowed to rescue animals since we have adequate staff and the required equipment to do the job," Bhatt said.

Patel on the other hand said that by the time they reached the spot, the animal had already died. "The animal did not die of negligence or poisoning but because of an ailment. The autopsy report confirms the cause of its death," Patel said. He refuted the allegation that his squad was late in reaching the spot.

"We reached the spot immediately after getting a message from the police. It is wrong to make sweeping statements against the department officers without actually knowing the ground realities," he said.

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


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Liquor seizures show a thriving bootlegging business Wednesday, October 17, 2001

BY SANJAY PANDEY, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: There is no looking back for those into the bootlegging business in this dry state. The illicit liquor market in the state is registering a phenomenal growth due to increase in liquor consumption across the cross-section of the society, sources in the police department said.

Both the prohibition and police departments made more than 12,000 arrests under the Prohibition Act and seized illicit liquor worth Rs 12 crore in 1997, after they split in the same year. The total seizures made by both the departments by August-end in 2001 stood at Rs 35 crore indicating a whopping growth of the illicit liquor market though the two departments are keen to project these figures as a manifestation of effective policing.

Both the departments are expecting huge seizures in the coming days on account of Navratri, Diwali and New Year celebrations and the total amount of the seizure is likely to go up to Rs 50 crore in 2001, as against a figure of Rs 33 crore in 2000.

But the total seizures are just the tip of the iceberg as officials believe that both the departments collectively could only seize around 20 per cent of illicit liquor flowing into the state from the various illegal channels. But even this is an inflated estimate, and independent observers say that only about 5 to 10 per cent of liquor which finds its way into the state is actually detected.

Though the police and prohibition departments are busy patting their backs for increasing the amount of seizures every year, it also indicate the size of the illicit liquor business which has also grown in a hydra-headed fashion. "Inspite of the fact that so many major bootleggers have been put behind bars but their cronies continue to operate and expand the business," Rajan Priyadarshi, Joint Commissioner, Prohibition department told TNN.

Normally a bootlegger operates with a battery of 20 to 25 flunkeys who help him out in extending his business to every nook and corner of his operational area. Once a bootlegger gets arrested or faces externment under PASA due to increase in number of cases piling up against him, the sub-ordinates take over the business.

Though both the departments have stepped up their efforts to nip the trade in the bud, by stepping up checks and raids, the bootlegging business has never shown a negative growth.

Moreover, the data compiled by both the departments also indicate an increase in the number of cases registered, number of people involved and increase in number of vehicles used for retailing the illicit liquor. On the other hand, liquor consumption was never shunned by the society as such, though the government adopted the prohibition policy way back in 1960.

"We are doing our bit of work with complete diligence though we have constantly demanded an increase in funds allocated to us for the rehabilitation of the alcohol addicts," says Natwarlal Parmar, president of the Nashabandhi Mandal, a voluntary organisation, working for the deaddiction and rehabilitation of addicts.
The Mandal, which runs six deaddiction and counselling centres all over the state, was allocated a grant of Rs 11 lakh in 1960 which remains unchanged even after 40 years. Every time a file was put forward for sanction, the finance department puts its foot down showing non-availability of funds for a cause which was part of state's policy. "Five additional districts have been given to us to provide counselling and rehabilitation, while our staff works on very low wages," adds Parmar.

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


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Pavagadh :: 15 lakh visitors likely this year in Champaner Festival Wednesday, October 17, 2001

BY SACHIN SHARMA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The Champaner Festival, held at the foothills of Pavagadh, will return after a period of two years. For the first time since its inception, the authorities are making conscious attempts to make it a major tourist attraction by making the dates of the festival convenient for visitors from outside the state.

Organised by the district administration in association with the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited and local self-government bodies, the fair is likely to be visited by 15 lakh people this year. In an attempt to popularise the event, the dates on which the fair is organised have been changed. The fair begins on Wednesday will be on till October 25.

In the past the fair was held during the period of 'Chaitri Navratri', which falls in the peak of the summer season. This time around, the fair will be held during the 'Aso Navratri', which falls in the much pleasant season of October.

Besides, an increasing number of tourists visit Pavagadh during the 'Aso Navratri'. Tourists from neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra as well as from far off places in Karnataka frequent the religiously important spot during this period.

Said Panchmahal district collector Jayanti Ravi, "The decision to change the dates was a conscious effort as we wanted to make the event a grand one. During the period as many as 15 lakh people visit Pavagadh. We have noted that as many as three lakh persons visited the place on a Sunday falling in the Navratri period."

Besides, Ravi said the change would take care of other difficulties like arrangement for water which is scarce in summer. Also, several people would like to enjoy the festival in a pleasant atmosphere instead of the scorching summer heat.
To popularise the festival, television advertising has been used for the first time by the district administration. Capsules prepared by the information department are being shown on Doordarshan's Gujarati channel during prime hours. Local television channels in the district have also been roped-in for the purpose.
The district administration has also roped-in non-government organisations and other government departments to give the festival a distinct touch. Besides the cultural events, the festival will have several stalls where artisans will sell their products. Tourists visiting the place can not only purchase the items, but will have the opportunity to see artisans working on their products.
The administration is also planning to rope-in adventure sports groups for the period to demonstrate paragliding and other similar events. "Pavagadh can be developed as a major spot for such activities. We have had two groups visiting the place for paragliding. More are likely to join in the near future," Ravi said.
In an attempt to make the tourist spot more safe for visitors, the administration has decided to ban private vehicles from plying on the Pavagadh mountain roads. Officials said the decision was taken as there were major disturbances due to unruly jeep operators. Also, the presence of a large number of vehicles on the road often resulted in accidents. The state transport department will, however, give additional buses for the convenience of those visiting the festival.
The cultural events to be held on the occasion will include performances by noted artistes like Padmashree Divaliben Bhil. Garbas, tribal dances and other cultural programmes will also be a part of the programme. Another major attraction will be performances by the West Zone Cultural Centre from Udaipur and the Dhamal dance performances by the Sidhi community. Cultural groups from across the state will participate in the festival, which will also include competitions.

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


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Pavagadh :: 15 lakh visitors likely this year in Champaner Festival Wednesday, October 17, 2001

BY SACHIN SHARMA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The Champaner Festival, held at the foothills of Pavagadh, will return after a period of two years. For the first time since its inception, the authorities are making conscious attempts to make it a major tourist attraction by making the dates of the festival convenient for visitors from outside the state.

Organised by the district administration in association with the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited and local self-government bodies, the fair is likely to be visited by 15 lakh people this year. In an attempt to popularise the event, the dates on which the fair is organised have been changed. The fair begins on Wednesday will be on till October 25.

In the past the fair was held during the period of 'Chaitri Navratri', which falls in the peak of the summer season. This time around, the fair will be held during the 'Aso Navratri', which falls in the much pleasant season of October.

Besides, an increasing number of tourists visit Pavagadh during the 'Aso Navratri'. Tourists from neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra as well as from far off places in Karnataka frequent the religiously important spot during this period.

Said Panchmahal district collector Jayanti Ravi, "The decision to change the dates was a conscious effort as we wanted to make the event a grand one. During the period as many as 15 lakh people visit Pavagadh. We have noted that as many as three lakh persons visited the place on a Sunday falling in the Navratri period."

Besides, Ravi said the change would take care of other difficulties like arrangement for water which is scarce in summer. Also, several people would like to enjoy the festival in a pleasant atmosphere instead of the scorching summer heat.
To popularise the festival, television advertising has been used for the first time by the district administration. Capsules prepared by the information department are being shown on Doordarshan's Gujarati channel during prime hours. Local television channels in the district have also been roped-in for the purpose.
The district administration has also roped-in non-government organisations and other government departments to give the festival a distinct touch. Besides the cultural events, the festival will have several stalls where artisans will sell their products. Tourists visiting the place can not only purchase the items, but will have the opportunity to see artisans working on their products.
The administration is also planning to rope-in adventure sports groups for the period to demonstrate paragliding and other similar events. "Pavagadh can be developed as a major spot for such activities. We have had two groups visiting the place for paragliding. More are likely to join in the near future," Ravi said.
In an attempt to make the tourist spot more safe for visitors, the administration has decided to ban private vehicles from plying on the Pavagadh mountain roads. Officials said the decision was taken as there were major disturbances due to unruly jeep operators. Also, the presence of a large number of vehicles on the road often resulted in accidents. The state transport department will, however, give additional buses for the convenience of those visiting the festival.
The cultural events to be held on the occasion will include performances by noted artistes like Padmashree Divaliben Bhil. Garbas, tribal dances and other cultural programmes will also be a part of the programme. Another major attraction will be performances by the West Zone Cultural Centre from Udaipur and the Dhamal dance performances by the Sidhi community. Cultural groups from across the state will participate in the festival, which will also include competitions.

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


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Cong embarks on Narmada Jal yatra Wednesday, October 17, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The state Congress on Tuesday began a massive awareness campaign to highlight the "state government's failure to increase the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam despite.

Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Amarsinh Chaudhary and other top Congress leaders kicked off the rally at Kevadiya by filling five "kumbhs" with Narmada water. Chaudhary informed that rallies carrying these "kumbhs" will make their way from five points in the state and converge at the Kevadiya dam site on October 31. The water from these "kumbhs" will then be emptied into the main canal.

"The work on increasing the height of the dam, which was re-started on October 31 last year with much fanfare in the presence of Union home minister LK Advani, has not made any progress, depriving the people of Gujarat their right to drinking water. This is criminal negligence on the part of the Gujarat government. The people of the state are also being burdened with the interest from the loan taken for the dam, which amounts to Rs 3.5 crore daily," said Chaudhary.

Termed the Narmada Jal Yatra, the rallies will start from five zones _ from Mehsana in north, two zones in Saurashtra, Vadodara in central zone and from Surat in south zone. Meetings will also be held in Porbander, Bhuj, near Santrampur's Kadana dam and in Umargaon. The rallyists will cover 210 of the state's 230 talukas.

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


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