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December 1, 2001 - December 1, 2001

Samras 'failure' figures at BJP meeting Saturday, December 1, 2001

RAJKOT: The lukewarm response to the Samras scheme of Chief Minister Modi figured prominently at the district BJP executive meeting which began at Wankaner on Friday.

The meeting was attended by home minister Gordhan Zadaphia and newly-appointed general secretary Dilip Gandhi.

According to BJP sources, the executive meeting discussed ways to counter the Congress onslaught in the gram panchayat elections.

The executive meeting was also attended by large number of pro-Keshubhai loyalists. Though the Modi-Keshubhai 'cold war' did not figure at the meeting, insiders said that some of the Keshubhai loyalists were keen on regrouping by staying on in the Modi Cabinet.

According to the sources, the pro-Keshubhai group _ Zadaphia, Mahendra Padaliya, minister of state for rural development Mohan Kundaria and Rajya Sabha MP Lalit Mehta _ expressed unhappiness at the CM sidelining them.

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

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Police bust UP-based gang of robbers Saturday, December 1, 2001

SURAT: With the arrest of six gangsters on Friday near Pandesara, the city police claimed to have busted a UP-based gang of robbers.

The police also recovered four country-made revolvers and nine live cartridges from them. The six have been identified as Rambabu Dubey, Rajkumar Yadav, Shyam Dharamdas Dubey, Mulayam Jagrup Yadav, Rajanpatra Chaudhary and Sagar Kirtan Gaud. Acting on a tip-off, the police nabbed them while they were moving suspiciously in the LIG housing colony at Pandesara.

They had planned to loot a bank in the area, the police said.

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

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Book on heritage released Saturday, December 1, 2001

AHMEDABAD: 'Managing our Cultural Heritage', a book authored by Xavier Greffe, was released on Friday at the NID campus during a seminar organised by the AMC, the government of France and HUDCO for revitalisation and preservation of the Walled City of Ahmedabad and the heritage buildings therein.
Greffe, while speaking to 'The Times of India' said: "The book (translated from French to English by Latika Sahgal) will help conservationists understand that private houses having heritage value could be a source of different types of activities. These ancient structures in Ahmedabad can attract heritage tourists, provide important physical references to future architects."
The French author said that maintenance and remodelling of the heritage structures without harming their old-world charm will generate employment and skilled artisans can transfer the know-how to others.
The first three chapters of 'Managing our Cultural Heritage' deal with economic dimensions related to cultural heritage and the chain of jobs and resources these sites generate. The next three chapters are devoted to the management of heritage-related resources and the last section shows why markets do not permit an optimal allocation of funds and a suitable level of activities, especially in urban areas.

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

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Jamnagar :: Jamnagar's real estate business damp Saturday, December 1, 2001

JAMNAGAR: When work on the Reliance refinery at Moti Khavdi was progressing at a hectic pace a few years back, real estate brokers of Jamnagar lived like 'badshahs'.

The demand exceeded the supply and as prices of property and rents went through the roof, they laughed all the way to the bank. Not any more.

The real estate market in Jamnagar is today down in the dump as there are no takers for flats and houses which were once rented out to employees of the Reliance refinery, after most of them shifted to the Reliance township.

The hotel industry, which had also made a killing, is today facing a severe slump in business.

Concrete structures dotting the Jamnagar skyline now represent 'ghost' houses. The rents have crashed almost 60 per cent and yet there aren't any takers!

Earlier, beginning the year 1997 till the refinery was commissioned in the early 2000, house owners used to demand a rent of around Rs 3,000 for a two-room house. And the tenant did not have any choice. He had to accept whatever was being offered by the landlord in connivance with the real estate broker.

The situation is just the opposite today. Property owners are virtually pleading to let out their premises.

Says Harjivan Desai, who owns a house in Patelnagar, "The top floor of my house is lying vacant for the last two years. Despite best efforts to rent it out, I am not getting any tenants. I have slashed the rent by 50 per cent and yet there are no takers."

"During the boom sparked by the refinery work we had constructed two rooms, a bathroom and kitchen on the first floor so as to earn an additional income. The going was very good for almost two years, but now I have been left high and dry."

A 'vigha' of land which was priced around Rs 3,000 before the work on the refinery began, rose to Rs 1 lakh during the peak of the boom. Now, however it is down to Rs 8,000. Apartments in the city are being sold at dirt-cheap prices.

As one moves away from Jamnagar city on the road to Moti Khavdi, a cluster of posh hotels make their appearance. They did throbbing business during the boom but today a deadly silence greets a visitor in the corridors of the hotels.

As the refinery work gathered momentum, as many as 123 hotels, guest houses, motels and restaurants had mushroomed in the city and its peripheral areas. One hotel group had set up a chain of establishments with Three Star facilities.

These days, the rare customer is treated like royalty. "Business has dropped by 60 per cent," revealed a hotel executive preferring to remain anonymous.

"We have to compromise on the tariff and the services offered," the executive said. "We get some business during festivals like Diwali, Christmas and on New Year's eve, provided we offer the crowd some unique entertainment programme."

Asked if some of the hotels were planning to put up the shutters, a senior hotel manager said, "That is not possible after pumping in such a lot of money. Besides, the market is so bad that there won't be any buyers."

He said an attempt to sell was made sometime early this year after the earthquake, "but the price quoted by the buyer was much below our expectations so we have to keep the units running".

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

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City gardens drying up claim BJP Saturday, December 1, 2001

AHMEDABAD: With panchayat elections in sight, BJP has taken its Congress-bashing exercise to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and now even to the gardens of the city.

On Friday, the BJP members of the Recreational and Cultural Committee of AMC alleged after touring 12 gardens of the city: "All of the 100 parks and gardens of Ahmedabad in AMC area are falling prey to lack of maintenance."

Rashmi Shukla, a BJP representative in the committee, said that the gardens, which have valuable plants costing anything between Rs 8 to Rs 8,000 were not being watered. Instead, she alleged, these green patches were used as garbage dumping yards and illegal activities like gambling.

Citing examples, members of the saffron brigade talked of the polluted pond of Parimal Garden in the heart of the city and of Ghotarwadi garden in Maninagar that is the favourite haunt of gamblers. They also pointed at the garden near Best High School that was supposed to be developed as nurturing ground for ayurvedic plants was drying up due to lack of water.

The members of AMC's Recreational and Cultural committee said that the concerned officials of the civic body should take better care of the greeneries in Ahmedabad and that the political wing would oppose any move to allow these parks and gardens to waste away.

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

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