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October 15, 2001 - October 15, 2001

CM seeks passport offices in Rajkot, Surat Monday, October 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Narendra Modi met Union ministers Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Ram Naik in New Delhi on Friday evening and took up issues concerning the state.

He spoke to Singh about the opening of passport offices in Surat and Rajkot. With Naik he took up the matter of higher allocation of gas and more royalty for crude oil.

And with Swaraj, about more coverage to developmental activities in Gujarat in the national media.

Union information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj said an FM radio station would become operational in Ahmedabad and Rajkot by December 2001.

An official press release said the two leaders discussed the issue of more coverage in the national news to developmental stories about Gujarat, and the issue of effectively countering misinformation being spread from across the border.

Modi discussed pending issue relating to increase in royalty on crude oil and allocation of more gas to Gujarat with Union petroleum minister Ram Naik.

Naik told the chief minister that the central government was aware of the stand of Gujarat on both the issues.

He said at present there was increase in the royalty on crude on ad hoc basis. He said the Mauskar committee recommendations would be implemented in the matter at the earliest.

The minister said his ministry was actively looking into the Gujarat government demand for the higher allocation of natural gas.

Admitting that both issues of royalty on crude oil and allocation of natural gas were vital problems concerning the development of Gujarat, the minister said both the issues would be resolved expeditiously.

In his meeting with Union external affairs and defence minister Jaswant Singh, the chief minister stressed the need for early release of the south Gujarat fishermen languishing in Pakistani prisons so that they could reunite with their families.

Modi thanked Jaswant Singh for measures taken so far by the external affairs ministry in the matter.

Singh informed the chief minister that a team of officials from India had already reached Pakistan to ensure early release of the fishermen.

The external affairs minister said damaged boats of the fishermen were being repaired and the fishermen would soon re-unite with their families in Gujarat.

Modi suggested to the external affairs minister to simplify, enlarge and expedite the process of getting passports.

He demanded that passport offices should be opened at Surat and Rajkot. To this, Jaswant Singh said the ministry would look into the matter too.

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

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Palanpur :: Villages alerted in Banaskantha Monday, October 15, 2001

PALANPUR: As many as 22 villages, coming under Mavasari and Suigam police stations, in the border district of Banaskantha have been kept on an alert in the wake of developments in neighbouring Pakistan, according to district superintendent of police R B Brahmbhatt.

Besides intensive checking on the border areas, all important public places like hotels, cinema houses, bus stops, railway stations, hospitals and other public places would be checked including three important centres of Palanpur, Deesa, Vav and Tharad.

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Disaster mitigation plan set rolling Monday, October 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat may soon have a director-general of fire services as part of the state's disaster management plan. An official of police commissioner's rank will also be posted to co-ordinate disaster mitigation in the state.

Putting its right foot forward -- albeit after nine months since the earthquake -- the state government's disaster management authority has also sanctioned Rs 1.2 crore each to Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot municipal corporations.

The financial grant is meant for acquiring a complete set of disaster mitigation equipment, and for training of corporation and State Reserve Police Force personnel in the use of these state-of-the-art machinery.

State relief commissioner P Pannervel, who is also the additional chief executive officer of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA), told TNN: "We are looking into the possibility of posting a DG fire services in Gujarat. While working on upgradation of fire-fighting capabilities, with special emphasis on urban conglomerates, a senior official like a DG will be better placed to co-ordinate fire services in the state. For the success of any disaster mitigation programme, efficient fire-fighting capabilities, coupled with rescue operations, is an absolute must. Thus this emphasis."

Pannervel added: "Progress and expenditure on Gujarat's disaster mitigation project will be need-based. We will keep a watch on how the three corporations perform in the training programme, and purchase sophisticated tools for disaster mitigation with the grant of Rs 1.2 crore. By the end of this programme, we hope to have 60 to 100 personnel trained for quick rescue missions and response to natural calamities and disasters. The disaster mitigation programme has been devised after consulting experts in this field who poured into Ahmedabad after January 26."

Sources in Gandhinagar added that in view of the volatile global scenario after terrorist attacks in the US, an added facet of the disaster mitigation project is handling chemical and biological disasters.

Rusty civil defence mechanisms in all districts of Gujarat are being activated, old sirens are being put back into working order and what-if plans are under preparation. An official disclosed: "We need to be prepared for any calamity, natural or war-generated."

Using its Rs 1.2-crore grant, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, along with the Ahmedabad Fire Brigade (AFB), has decided to put together a disaster mitigation vehicle which would be ready to handle any challenge.

The vehicle will be equipped with a motorboat, a high-powered water pump, sophisticated hydraulic concrete cutters and saws, separators and inflators and life-detector units for quick rescue in case of building collapse.

Chemical and ammonia suits and breathing apparatus, life jackets, lifebouys, diving jackets and pneumatic high-pressure lifting bags with weight-bearing capacity of 12 tonnes to 132 tonnes are the other features of the first-ever disaster mitigation vehicle of Ahmedabad.

Sources in AMC disclosed most of the highly-specialised equipment are to be imported, and will only mark the beginning of disaster preparedness activities.

AMC officials said, "While civil defence has already begun working in this direction, in Ahmedabad itself there is need for another 10 fire stations (in addition to the existing nine). That apart, a proposal for Rs 50-crore worth of equipment meant for efficient fire-fighting and handling of emergent situations has also been submitted to the state government. Though we are far from achieving our goal, the ball has been set rolling in the right direction with this initial sanction of Rs 1.2 crore."

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

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HC seeks details on use of loud speakers Monday, October 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has asked advocate general S N Shelat to inquire under which provisions the Ahmedabad police commissioner issued a circular on October 1, allowing use of loud speakers till 1 am during Navratri celebrations.

This follows a special civil application filed by Rahul Jani challenging the circular. A full-bench, comprising Chief Justice DM Dharmadhikari, Justice RK Abhichandani and Justice DK Trivedi however, did not prefer to issue notices to the secretary state home department and to the police commissioner who were respondents. It will be taken up the matter again on October 19.

The petitioner submitted that the circular, issued by the commissioner of police, Ahmedabad, was in contravention to the Noise Pollution Control Rules framed by the Government of India.

He stated that according to these rules, no authority had the power to allow any person or firm to use loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am.

An earlier judgment of the Supreme Court in Church of God versus KKR Majestic Colony Welfare Association, was also quoted in which the SC had observed that no religion prescribed that the prayers should be performed by disturbing the peace of others, and nor does it preach that it should be performed by voice amplifiers or beating of drums.

The petitioner said that beating of drums and voice amplifiers during Navratri create noise pollution.

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

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New fashion-rage grips young generation Monday, October 15, 2001

RAJKOT: Osama Bin Laden, the most dreaded terrorist of the world, in Rajkot! Yes, he is going to strike on Wednesday, October 17.

Osama will make a dramatic entry into the "Nine Nights" festival, known as Navratri, which is celebrated in Saurashtra, with great deal of gusto and enthusiasm.

And, it will not be just one Osama... but a number of them... perhaps, the duplicates.

The new fashion, of adorning the Osama dress, with turban, beard and moustache, is currently a rage among the mass and would be seen throughout the nine nights from October 17 onwards.

Right from children of five years to youths of 35, Osama bin Laden craze has swept and overtaken the cultural scene.

The dress, along with turban, beard and moustache, resembling the terrorist, is being given on hire by the dress suppliers, who are now legion.

The going rate for hiring the Osama dress is Rs 400 for children and Rs 800 for the young, for the festival period.

The Osama fashion, of late, is one of the new fashions which have overtaken the young boys and girls in Rajkot.

There are other fashions too, copied from the Bollywood blockbusters like Dil De Chuke Sanam, Lagaan, Gaddar and what not.

The ethnic touch is quite visible, both in the female and male dresses. The young girls prefer chania-choli, jeans and backless choli combination, oxidised ornaments, ear-rings. The boys prefer the Kathiawadi colourful dresses, children go for Nehru jacket and caps.

The dress designers and suppliers have been doing brisk business for the last couple of months due to the Navratri festival.

The bookings for the dresses opened two months back and many of them aver that their hands are full at the moment. They are just speeding to catch up with the pending orders. And, they are still being flooded with new orders.

Similarly, the 'dandiya' varieties are also changing, with colourful, wooden sticks to aluminium pieces... costing from Rs 10 to Rs 200.

The aluminium product is preferred at the modern or Disco-Raas while the wooden 'dandiya' is preferred at the old style 'prachin' garba.

After two successive drought years, this year, the Navratri festival in Saurashtra promises to be more colourful, as the enthusiasm of the young players is ascending sharply.

The number of dress designers and dress suppliers have gone up this year, though it is supposed to be a seasonal business.

But, the people in this line, intend to make fast buck, by cashing on the rapidly changing fashions and new craze gripping the younger generation.

Rajkot is known as the nerve-centre of the modern Navratri festival. The trend is now seen in other towns and centres in Saurashtra.

With the result, the Navratri festival is losing its ancient touch. The 'prachin' or the ancient 'garbi' and 'garba' are rarely seen.

The organisers of the Disco-Dandiya Raas in different areas also claim a lion's share from the participants ranging from Rs 700 onwards.

Every year, the rates for the cards, required to play in the circle go up. This year, too, the rates have been raised up... some charging as much as Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 for nine nights. But, the enthusiastic youngsters just don't mind it!

According to a random survey, every young participant spends as much as Rs 3,000 on an average. Some even spend more... for the nine-night show.

This includes the cost of participation fee, cost of the fashionable dress, dandiyas and the cost of snacks, cold drinks, ice-creams, etc. Most of the participants move in groups and enjoy the extravaganza till the wee hours.

There are regulations to conclude the disco-dandiya at the appointed hour. But, such regulations are hardly observed, with the result that some of the groups carry on till dawn!

Along with the young girls and children, their parents also accompany them for the show while the boys prefer to be on their own. Even girls would prefer not to have their parents with them!

Apart from the cost borne by the participants, there are others who earn handsomely.

These include the music artists, giving accompaniment music, the people connected with light and sound system, the mandap contractors and also the ice-cream parlours, fast-food jaunts and the like.

The onlookers, who are regular visitors at these Disco-Dandiya-Raas, also spend lot of money by way of transport, snacks, ice-cream, etc. and make merry till late night.

An interesting thing about these Disco-Dandiya is... the programme usually starts after 11 pm and goes on till early morning. But, the crowd is unmoved!

There are more than a dozen such groups, which every year attract thousands of people from various areas of Rajkot and even from the neighbouring villages and towns.

According to rough estimates, the people of Rajkot spend about Rs 20 crore for the nine-night festival.

In other words, it may work out to more than Rs 2 crore per day. Rajkot has the habit of doing everything in style! The estimates of expenses for the entire Saurashtra region is in the bracket of Rs 150 crore.

However, there is the other sombre side too. In the wake of the killer earthquake in the border district of Kutch, the people have decided not to celebrate the festival in a grand manner. They would prefer to be content with symbolic, devotional prayers to the Goddess.

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

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