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October 12, 2001 - October 12, 2001

Municipal schools set to turn over a new leaf Friday, October 12, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The municipal school board on Wednesday launched an enrolment drive at Dariyapur to check the increasing drop-out rates at the schools and promised to give the civic schools a new look to enable them to compete with private schools.

In the post-quake scenario the drop out rates suddenly zoomed with more than 17,000 students shifting to private schools. Prior to January 26, the 563 municipal schools spread over the five zones of AMC housed 2.32 lakh students.

With the drop-out rate threatening closure of 150 classrooms and some teachers facing unemployment the administrative and elected members of the municipal school board have been alarmed enough to adopt a more proactive approach.

"Elected members of the board met 25 municipal school principals on Wednesday and sensitised them on the enrolment drive. This drive will next be spread to Shahpur and then to other areas too. Two teachers from each municipal school will go out into their neighbourhood for a period not more than 90 minutes to counsel the parents and bring students back to our schools. The team from each school will change everyday and will be conducted without hampering academic sessions," said Jagdish Bhavsar, deputy chairman of the municipal school board.

Going hand-in-hand with enrolment will be taking tips from researchers looking into upgrading quality of education in municipal schools. The newly-appointed municipal school board chairman, Dinesh Rawal, is looking towards finding a solution and thereby refurbishing the image of these schools.

"Seven students of M.Ed in Gujarat University has taken up academics in municipal schools as their subject of thesis. Their research will help us identify the loopholes and reasons why our schools are looked down upon by the masses. Our schools have better-qualified teachers, offer free education and yet the guardians prefer to go for the costly private school education, my aim is to reverse this trend," said Rawal.

The first step in refurbishing his schools' image Rawal on Wednesday banned smoking of cigarettes and use of tobacco-products inside school campus.

"Teaching and non-teaching staff have to provide an ideal for the young minds to follow. I have also asked all school principals to prevent students, if any, from intake of things like gutka or pan masala," informed Rawal. But that's not the only notice sent by the board to its schools. The other slogan propagated by the municipal school board is "Classrooms are the right places for teachers and students to be in."

Help of corporate, business organisations and NGOs will also be sought by the board for sponsorship at certain schools.

"If private money flows into our schools and takes care of uniform, books and notebooks for our students then the image rebuilding will be so much easier," said Rawal.

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

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Over 2,500 villages to face drinking water shortage Friday, October 12, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: More than 2,500 villages and 15 towns will face acute drinking water shortage in the next few months, following failure of the last phase of monsoon.

The government has asked district collectors of ten districts _Jamnagar, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Surendranagar, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Patan, Dahod, the Panchmahals, Kaira, Anand and Vadodara to prepare a master plan to deal with the situation.

Chief Minister Modi, who reviewed the water supply position with senior officials, was briefed about the drinking water crisis by water supply minister Narottam Patel.

Later, while speaking to reporters, Patel gave details of the steps being taken by the government to tackle the shortage by expediting the work on 136 group water supply schemes, pressing into service water tankers and installing hand pumps.

He said the water supply position was grim in central Gujarat, mainly in the Panchmahals and Dahod which received scanty rainfall. More than 800 villages would be in the grip of water shortage in these districts.

The government has sanctioned more than Rs 1,000 crore for augmenting water supply facilities during the year.

A special plan has been prepared to replace the drinking water pipeline network in quake-affected areas with help provided by the ADB and other financial institutions.

Giving details of the project, the minister said in all, Rs 621 crore had been sanctioned by the ADB as part of its reconstruction and rehabilitation plan for quake-affected areas in Kutch, Banaskantha and Rajkot.

Patel disclosed that the government had prepared a plan for laying new pipelines and for other works of the project on which Rs 320 crore would be spent this year.

To implement this project and other drinking water projects, the minister has requested Modi to appoint a senior secretary to his department for exclusively monitoring the water projects.

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

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Is Shree Laxmi bank going Madhavpura way? Friday, October 12, 2001

AHMEDABAD: In a clear indication that another co-operative bank of the city was going the Madhavpura way, the Shree Laxmi Co-operative Bank closed down all its five branches in the city on Tuesday, leaving 40,000 depositors in the lurch. Big crowds gathered at the bank's five branches where they were told that the bank was closed due to a staff strike.

However, in its immediate inspection report following the crisis on Wednesday, the office of the Registrar of Co-operative Societies said that huge erosion of funds had taken place, due to poor recovery of loans, which has forced the bank to down its shutters.

The bank management has claimed, in a notice put up outside its branches, that the bank closed down because its employees are on strike. But repeated attempts made by TNN to contact the bank's chairman Dinesh Dani proved futile.

Laxmi Co-operative Bank has been ailing for the past 10 years, and had been classified as a weak bank since 1991. It has a deposit base of Rs 19.37 crore as on March 31, 2001.

While total advances of the bank stood at Rs 20.82 crore, share capital and reserves were Rs 1.40 crore and Rs 4.53 crore respectively. Besides fixed deposits, the bank has taken cash credit of Rs 12.34 crore from Ahmedabad District Bank.

On the second day of the crisis, the bank was not able to participate in clearing house activities of the Reserve Bank of India.

The bank management has also informed the RBI that the bank would not be able to take part in clearing house activities. Since the bank branches closed, worried depositors of the bank were gathered at the branches of the bank.

Considering the asset-liability situation of the bank, it seems difficult for it to resume operations, sources in the state co-operative department told TNN.

Meanwhile, the RBI also convened a meeting to take the stock of situation in the crisis ridden bank and also discussed various measures on how to tide over the crisis.

Besides advances, the bank has invested Rs 58.30 lakh in call money as on March 2000. Cash on hand was Rs 76.06 lakh and other investment of the bank stood at Rs 91.56 lakh.

The crisis in Shree Laxmi Co-operative Bank comes on the heels of the failure of two other Ahmedabad based co-operative banks, Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank and Classic Co-operative Bank.

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

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WB puts rider to urban development aid Friday, October 12, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The World Bank has made it clear to the Gujarat government that the demand for the $150 million urban development loan would be met only if the state agrees to comply with the conditionality of raising user charges on water, making it metered, as also other urban utilities.

A top bank official told TNN here on Thursday that a proposal is lying with the WB to provide a $150 million loan to the state for urban infrastructure for the six cities of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar as also 40-odd municipalities.

"The matter is in process right now. It would be final in a year," the official said.

"Final negotiations will start soon. A WB team was here a fortnight ago to make an assessment of the requirement. The earlier Gujarat demand for $350 million has been revised to $150 million," the official said, adding that, "another major conditionality would be slum upgradation."

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

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Main accused in ISD racket case held Friday, October 12, 2001

AHMEDABAD:The city crime branch arrested the main accused, Prakash Vinjani on Wednesday in connection with the ISD racket unearthed from Kubernagar last month.

The police also suspects that at least two employees of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd may be involved in the racket.

Three persons have been accused in this case unearthed by the crime branch following a tip-off from the telephone department where it was learnt that ten telephone lines were operating from a single building in Kubernagar.

Later investigations revealed that at least 24 lines had been operating from this building where a connection had been established with the United States via a dish antenna.

The other accused is the owner of the building Pandu Soni. The building had been rented to the accused for four months and it is assumed that the racket was in operation since then.

Further, the police suspects that the accused had established contact with someone in the US who was paying them in American dollars.

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

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