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October 13, 2001 - October 15, 2001

Pirmohammad Shah seminar Monday, October 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: More than 25 literary figure from across the country will arrive in the city to participate in a three-day seminar on 'Cultural and Literary activities in Medieval Gujarat' starting on Sunday.

The seminar is being organised by the Hazrat Pirmohammad Shah Library and Research Centre in the city famous world-wide as "library for the world's oldest Islamic books".

The library books that are 500-700 years old, including the 300-year-old Mahabharata in Persian.

President of the library-cum-research-centre Mohammad Kakiwala said an attempt will be made in the seminar to trace the significant contributions made in the field of culture, history and literature in the medieval Gujarat.

"Little-known facts like the first Urdu poem was penned not by poets of Lucknow or Delhi, but by Vali Gujarati, and such other interesting aspects of contributions made by Gujaratis in the field of culture and literature will be highlighted at the seminar," Kakiwala said.

Over 45 learned people from Gujarat will also present papers during the meet.

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

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Centre's report on new-gene cotton seeds awaited Saturday, October 13, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Confusion continues to prevail over the incident of unapproved variety of genetically-engineered cotton seeds being grown in Gujarat, as the seed type would be confirmed only after the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, gives its examination report.

A letter was reportedly sent to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of the ministry of environment and forests last month that an Ahmedabad based seed supplier Navbharat Seeds has sold unapproved variety of Bt.gene cotton seeds in Gujarat and have been grown by some farmers of Mehsana district in hundreds of hectares of farmland.

A GEAC team visited these areas and collected samples which are being analysed and the reports will be available on October 18. The GEAC has refused permission for commercialisation of this specific variety of cotton.

However, the state administration is awaiting DBT reports. Additional chief secretary agriculture AWP David told TNN that "the DBT is investigating into the incident, and we are awaiting for the results, since we do not have any facilities for such tests. It appears that these were genetically altered seeds."

While the seed type is not confirmed and since many a variety of genetically-engineered seeds are allowed, it is believed that the seed could be a transgenic variety.

As there is no Seeds Act in India, all the varieties have to be cleared by DBT and GEAC as the genetically-engineered seeds have to be introduced after certain tests are performed and trials taken and are grown under restrictions.

"It is a potentially a very good technology, but needs to be handled carefully. There is lot of controversy about their introduction in India. It is accepted in the US and the China, while opposed in Europe," says Gujarat Agricultural University vice-chancellor M N Mehta.

The seeds in question are believed to contain a pest resistant strain of the bacterium 'Bt' (Bacillus thuringiensis) which could have been introduced in the cotton DNA. 'Bt' is a naturally occurring bacterium, which attacks the digestive system of the harmful cotton worms, and prevents them from eating the crop.

This is done to reduce the use of chemical pesticides which are extensively used in cotton crops which are very susceptible to worms and pests, to kill them.

GAU's director of research RPS Ahlawat explains what genetically-engineered seeds are. "When a gene is introduced from any alien plant or source in to the seed, the resultant seed is called genetically engineered seed."

He comments that such genetic alterations are made usually for improving quality of the crop, its yield or increasing its biotic resistance.

The GAU is currently experimenting with genetically-engineered seeds at its farms in Surat and Viramgam.

When contacted on Friday, the managing director of the Navbharat Seeds DV Desai, minister for agriculture Purushottam Rupala were not available for comments.
Source - The Times of India

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Row over animal parts found in tank Saturday, October 13, 2001

VADODARA: The J P Road police have arrived on a rather unusual theory in their investigation into presence of parts of an animal carcass found in VMC's water tank at Gotri.

Police believe that perhaps a small goat accidentally fell into the water tank at Gotri through an open pothole.

Police also seem to be convinced that because the goat died due to drowning into chlorine water, its bones disintegrated rather early than the usual duration of time.

"We don't think somebody has played mischief of slipping a carcass or animal bones into the tank. We believe that a goat might have fallen into the tank, drowned and the bones that we recovered last Sunday from the tank belong to that drowned animal," J P Road police station inspector J S Kher.

Earlier on Thursday, there were stormy scenes at the VMC office were the officers had to bear the brunt of protesting corporators.

Residents also complained that the office concerned of VMC had erred in maintaining water tanks, and that there was a hazard to the larger safety of public who relied for their drinking water on VMC tanks.

Gotri tank meets the water requirement of a huge chunk of area in the city. There were also talks that somebody had deliberately played mischief and put carcass in tank.

However, this theory was ruled out. Nonetheless, the VMC had to face criticism following its gross negligence in maintaining vigil and regularly checking the tanks.

Just adjoining the Gotri water tank there is a lake which has turned into a pond of sewage water and sludge.

Gotri residents complain that during monsoon, water from the lake seeps into the water tank and pollutes water which is supplied to people in the area.

"They don't maintain this place properly. You can see that the overhead tank is now host to small bushes and other vegetation that have sprouted from the concrete. Leakage in the overhead tank is permanent. Even the ground water tank is so close to the polluted pond that often sludge and sewage gets mixed with the tank water," said Gotri resident Nagin Kachhia.
Source - The Times of India

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Ramachandran to look into units' woes Saturday, October 13, 2001

SURAT: Union minister of state for finance G N Ramachandran assured industrialists of the city of a review of the tax structure as applicable on the industries in view of the economic difficulties they face in the wake of the severe recession.

The Union minister was on a day-long visit to the city on Wednesday and attended a meet organised by the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI).

Representatives of various industries urged the minister to impress upon the Central government for an airport in the city at the earliest. Ramchandran assured the gathering that he would take personal interest in that regard.

Several issues related to industries here were raised and put up before the minister. It was demanded that the industry be taken into confidence while bringing about a change in the current taxation system.

Industrialists contended that the specific duty levied on imported stock should be charged in terms of dollars and not rupees, so as to prevent cheap fabrics coming in to the country and affecting local products.

Ramchandran assured that all the demands would be looked into by the concerned authorities.

He voiced his concern over the difficulties being faced by the industry at present due to increased global competition in the textile market.

Agreeing that the present tax system was indeed burdensome, he assured that the present system would be reviewed. The minister stressed on conducive industrial environment for overall growth of the economy.
Source - The Times of India

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Another highway robbery Saturday, October 13, 2001

NADIAD: One person was robbed of his gold jewellery and cash by five miscreants here on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai national highway near Hariyala village on Thursday morning.

The miscreants also took away the victim's Indica car, making a total booty worth Rs 2.17 lakh.

The gang members travelling by a Maruti car intercepted the Indica car and assaulted one of the persons in the car, Rajeshkumar, and threatened him with a revolver.

They then robbed the person and decamped with his gold ornaments, cash and the car.

In yet another incident, seven unidentified people in 'chhaddi baniyan' robbed two women travelling in a jeep near Dakor and decamped with cash and jewellery worth Rs 22,000 on Thursday.

The gang members had placed small nails on the road, which deflated the tyres forcing the occupants to stop the jeep. They then assaulted the women and decamped with their cash and jewellery.

According to Kheda DSP Manoj Agarwal, the police are yet to find a clue, but have already launched a search operation with two teams of police sent to different places for the same.
Source - The Times of India

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