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October 16, 2001 - October 16, 2001

"Be prepared for any eventuality -- biological and chemical disasters" Tuesday, October 16, 2001

AHMEDABAD: "Be prepared for any eventuality -- biological and chemical disasters, natural (or manmade) disasters ... ," said a telex message marked 'confidential' from the Centre to all state home secretaries which reached Gandhinagar recently and galvanised officials into an unprecedented civil defence preparedness.

This was followed by the Central government's declaration of sanctioning a whopping Rs 1,000-crore for disaster mitigation and being prepared for any contingency -- upgradation of flagging services of the fire department, paramilitary forces and the police force.

While the January 26 earthquake could achieve little in terms of disaster management or civil defence, the Centre's directive has shaken Gujarat's civil defence mechanism into action.

The sirens fixed atop tall structures that had seldom wailed have suddenly been tested and made operational. While the inevitable continues -- meetings and more meetings between police, fire brigade, civil defence officials and government authorities at Gandhinagar -- tangible action is also visible.

The collector of Ahmedabad, K Srinivas, who is also one of the two controllers of civil defence told TNN: "We have already categorised and identified different cities and urban conglomerates of Gujarat to be prepared for a war-like situation. Civil defence will be at a state of readiness for any circumstance. Focus areas for us are ability to warn the masses of an impending danger -- through sirens or through mobile 'alert' units and to mobilise a civilian workforce network to deal with exigencies."

Srinivas added, "Civil defence acts as an auxiliary unit to other state or central government agencies by mobilising doctors who are outside the government's health system and by reactivating civil defence warders. During non-peace situation, civil defence officials focus on managing masses and extending rescue and relief while the other agencies are busy with other emergency responsibilities. This department is currently reactivating its warders (essentially volunteers from public) and the people involved with civil defence."

Another tangible result of the brain-storming is the conceptualisation of the city's first all-round disaster mitigation vehicle. The disaster mitigation vehicle that in the first phase will also be readied at Surat and Rajkot will be prepared for biological, chemical and other disasters (natural and manmade).

A motor boat for unimpeded rescue work even in water-logged areas due to heavy rainfall or cyclonic conditions, a high-voltage pumping unit capable of sucking out 12,000 litres of water every minute, a high-pressure water tender with a 2,000-litre water tank and a water pump of 150 litre per minute capacity.

That's not all. An emergency rescue vehicle will be made available to accommodate one officer, five firemen apart from the driver. This unit will be fitted with a 100-watt halogen clear and fog lamps and an electrically operated siren with a range of 1 km. Apart from these illuminants and alert devices, the vehicle will have a trussed-type ladder with 10.5 metre extension, a set of concrete saw with water pump and two portable cutters, imported life jackets, lifebouys and two imported dry diving suits, a 5 horsepower submersible pump.

The other facets of the vehicle are a set of pneumatic high-pressure lifting bags that can provide a buffet to disaster victims trapped under tonnes of debris, gas cutters and a hydro-glider with an onboard engine, propeller and controls to manoeuvre at least six personnel. That apart, nine different types of hydraulic tools (all to be imported) will be there in the emergency vehicle that will also have suits to insulate the rescuers from chemical or biological hazards.

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

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Legal sword still hangs over Bhatt, Pathak Tuesday, October 16, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Their successful political career came to a grinding halt on November 7, 2000, when the additional city civil and sessions judge Sonia Gokani framed charges against 11 persons. Union minister of state for defence production Harin Pathak and state health minister Ashok Bhatt figured in the list of co-accused. Four days later they resigned from the respective ministries.

But even as the legal battle lingers on, Pathak was on Monday reinstated in the Vajpayee ministry and there are indications that Bhatt is enroute to becoming a member of the Modi Cabinet on Wednesday.

On April 22, 1985, a commission appointed by the Gujarat High Court was investigating into the police role during the communal riots near Chhabila Hanuman in Raipur area of the city that took place a few weeks before.

It was alleged that after the speeches delivered by Bhatt, Pathak and others, a mob attacked police constable Laxman Jabbabhai Desai with sharp weapons, killing him on the spot, and severely injuring another constable Ratiram Yadav, during the riots.

A complaint was filed by the then deputy commissioner of police J Mahapatra against 11 for unlawful assembly, injury to policemen on duty, attempt to murder and murder during the communal riots.

The accused then filed an application in the HC seeking to quash the complaint filed against them having charges of committing murder. The accused had challenged the complaint and the proceedings filed under Section 188 of IPC along with other charges, as the procedure provided under Section 195 of the Criminal Procedural Code was not followed by the police.

The HC had then quashed and set aside the charges on November 15, and had directed the sessions court to hear the case again after reframing charges and providing all the documents to the accused. Two of the accused had sought that the report of the inquiry commission appointed by the HC to investigate into the riots, was not made available to them despite an earlier HC order.

In addition, the government pleaded that it was found on perusal of the order of the additional sessions court, that the court had framed charges against accused No. 1 to 11 without considering the material documents, namely the inspection report of the court.

The court ordered that since the charges as framed by the additional session court in-charge is not only contrary to the law but was in violation of the direction given by the HC on September 25, 2000, hence they be set aside. It was also assured to the HC that the copies of the report would be provided to the accused.

It was on December 13, that the HC stayed the proceedings including those in the sessions court as well as the previous order of the High Court to find and produce the report of the Court Inquiry Commission. On December 26, the stay was extended till January.

This had kicked off a controversy as the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association president Yatin Oza had shot a letter last week to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India saying that the petition, on the basis of which the stay was granted by the court, was admitted at the last minute and was taken up for hearing immediately, without having intimated the relatives of the deceased constable.

Following a HC order to start a fresh trial in the trial court, the city civil and sessions court started hearing on August 7, 2001, with the widow of the slained police constable Laxman Desai joining as a party and advocate B M Gupta, who had earlier applied to join as a party, appearing on her behalf. The matter was assigned afresh to ASJ Z K Saiyed.

Saiyed, however referred the case to the principal judge, who moved it to additional sessions judge V C Modi. The accused then moved an application for discharge stating that there was no substantial case against them and cited the court commission's document which pointed that Bhatt was present before the commission at the time of incident.

However, the Court observing that there were prima facie evidence suggesting Bhatt's involvement in instigating the violence, it turned down the discharge plea. Now, they have moved the High Court.

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

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Octroi raids on RTO Tuesday, October 16, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The octroi committee swooped on the Regional Transport Office (RTO) on Monday, detecting eight two-wheelers being registered without having paid octroi duty.

With the help of a person posing as a customer to the RTO for registration papers to a new vehicle, the octroi committee members of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation uncovered a network of agents who wilfully evaded octroi duty with the help of some officials of the department.

Chairman of the octroi committee, Kishansinh Tomar, told TNN, "The eight instances that we have uncovered are just pointers to the widespread illegalities in the RTO which bring down octroi income. I have ordered an investigation on to how the vehicles were brought into Ahmedabad and registered without paying octroi. If officials of the octroi department are found guilty immediate suspension orders would be slapped on them."

After laying siege on the RTO the octroi department shifted focus to a two-wheeler showroom and financier based in Bapunagar. "We were informed that the two-wheeler outlet was evading octroi and we are trying to verify the facts. There are many more such showrooms in Bapunagar and the credentials of each will be checked by the octroi department," said Tomar.

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

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ADCB directors oppose move to help weak bank Tuesday, October 16, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Two directors of the Ahmedabad District Co-operative Bank (ADCB) have opposed their chairman Amit Shah's reported move to extend credit facility to Visnagar Bank.

Pradip Singh Chudasama and Ilesh N Patel, directors of ADCB in a recent meeting with Shah aired their misgivings on credit options being opened to a financially-weak bank.

The duo in a letter to the ADCB chairman have stated, "Visnagar Bank has been given Rs 15-crore credit facility... The bank has been declared a weak bank and yet you have given Rs 15 crores without any security."

Shah however told TNN, "We have no plans to lend any money to Visnagar Bank. This allegation is baseless and is being propagated by people with vested interest."

Chudasama on the other hand while talking to TNN said, "Now the chairman is contemplating extending credit facility yet again to the bank. Why should the earnings of farmers and common masses, deposited with ADCB, be extended to Visnagar. I am against sanctioning of loan under any circumstances to the bank and endangering public money. Like in Visnagar's case our chairman had hiked credit facility extended to two other co-operative banks in the recent past. Both the banks have downed shutters, we can't have a repetition of the same in Visnagar's case, too."

Chudasama threatened to take Shah to court. "I will file a case against the chairman of ADCB for misusing public money. Investing in Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC), giving loans to sinking banks despite examples like the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank (MMCB) defies logic. I hope that my litigation will work towards making every chairman and director of a co-operative bank accountable to the depositors."

This is the second occasion when Chudasama has openly opposed the ADCB chairman when the latter allegedly tried to give Rs 100 crores at 7.5 per cent interest to bail out MMCB. In September he had joined a hunger strike in front of the bank premises.

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

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Cardiac patients could opt for holistic treatment Tuesday, October 16, 2001

VADODARA: A decision on whether angioplasty is required or not should be taken after consulting senior cardiologists. A patient should assess his financial ability to undergo multiple angioplasty or opt for bypass, which can be a cheaper option, said Ramesh Kapadia who has treated many patients through his system of 'universal healing'.

Kapadia set up centre for universal healing in 1991. His centres have gained global popularity due to acceptance by medical circles. Vadodara, too, might have a centre for universal healing so that those patients can benefit.

According to Kapadia, experts agree that bypass surgery or angioplasty and medication in themselves are incomplete to end heart problems. "Undergoing a surgery is not enough nor can angioplasty cure all problems. Patients need to bring about a change in lifestyle", he said.

Deciding on whether to go for bypass surgery or angioplasty should be made by the individual as per his financial position and by a senior cardiologist who can explain to him if his medical condition warrants such a procedure", he said.

According to him, unlike the USA where both the medical associations and the insurance companies strictly monitor treatment procedure there is room for indiscriminate treatment options being offered to patients. "Therefore patients should opt for second opinion if they find, it necessary. Financially too these options should be weighed properly. There is no point in taking a treatment that eventually causes financial stress and tension", he said.

"Medical treatment is just half the total treatment. Meditation, deep breathing and relaxation techniques are the only ways to completely combat heart diseases", he said.

"Patients who have undergone heart attacks or angioplasty should not believe that their lives have changed for the worse. On the contrary there are many patients who feel that their lifestyles improve for the better after the heart problems as they consciously bring about a drastic lifestyle change that benefits them", he said.

On Sunday Kapadia met city doctors for a special talk on management of coronary artery disease through holistic methods.

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

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