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October 11, 2001 - October 11, 2001

Women here can dance their heart out! Thursday, October 11, 2001

VADODARA: This is the only one of its kind garba programme where women as old as 85 years and girls as young as three dance together to the tunes of traditional garba. This particular form goes back more than 100 years.

The tunes are old and melodious; the dancers are three generation of women. Each follows the traditional dance form, a rarity now a days," says MS University's professor Parul Shah.

"The garba held in Vadodara is the best, but there's still a need to keep alive the ancient tradition of garba, which is slowly disappearing. Being a part of the faculty of performing arts' department of dance, we wanted to ensure that traditional garba does not die. That's the reason we, along with Arunaben Choksi, have initiated these garba programmes," she says.

Shah, who is former dean of faculty of performing arts, initiated this unique event five years ago.

"We started this function for the first time at the faculty of performing arts. For the past four years, however, we have been holding it at Milan Kunj Club Lawns," she says.

With each passing year, Milan Kunj Garba has been gaining in popularity, both among young and the old. Unlike other organisers, Milan Kunj Club and Serve Our Society organise these garba events only on five days during Navratri. This year, the function begins October 20.

Arunaben Choksi says, "We realised that most garba organisers catered to the youth. The older women, many of whom very talented and keen to dance, couldn't find a place for themselves at the bigger events, where, usually, the youngsters took centre stage. This is how the idea came to us."

The idea was to revert to the old traditional style of garba, not just in terms of the choice of songs -- which date back to over 100 years --but also in the dancing style.

"Today's garba is new, and have the touch of 'sugam sangeet'. They are good, our idea is not to criticise or look down on them. We want to preserve the old, at the same time introducing the youth to the 100-year-old tradition," says Choksi.

According to her the older garba songs like 'Sachi re Bhavani Ma', Ma pava te Gadh thi.." etc are the garbas with bhakti (veneration) and the description of the goddess in its lyrics. They also depict the ancient mythologies, the description of places like Pavagadh, Mahisagar, Arasu (Mount Abu) which have religious significance. Some also speak of folklores, she says.

Shah informs that the dance form is traditional and unlike the more modern forms of dodhiyu we encourage traditional graba dance forms like 'Hinch', 'tran tali' (three claps) 'be tali' (two claps) 'ek tali' ( one clap) garbas. These have to be performed in a circle and that form is strictly followed. The garbas are traditionally symbols of shakti and aradhana," she says.

"This year, we also want to encourage women, who dance, to join in the singing. All singers on stage give voluntary service. This time we want to encourage dancers to sing while dancing. This is how it used to be in the old days," she says.

There is no commercial gain from the garba. The venue is provided by Milan Kunj Club free of charge.

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

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HC notices over manhole workers' conditions Thursday, October 11, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has issued notices to the state government and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in a public interest litigation on dangerous working conditions of the 3500 sewerage and manhole workers in the city.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D M Dharmadhikari, Justice R K Abhichandani and Justice D K Trivedi issued notices in the PIL filed by Kamdar Swasthya Suraksha Mandal and Lok Adhikar Sangh.

Of the sewerage department employees, 1200 workers are manhole workers who are either divers or manual workers who are required to go inside sewers and clean them. They come from the 'Bhungi' community and live below poverty line. Their living and working conditions are sub-human and amount to a flagrant violation of their right to life.

The petitioners have prayed for the appointment of a high-level committee to investigate into the living and working conditions of manhole workers and to submit report to the High Court.

Also sought were directions to the respondent authorities to meet the reasonable demands of the workers immediately, and to take immediate steps for ensuring the safety and security of the manhole workers till the time a proper mechanism is created. The next hearing is fixed for October 12.

The petitioner Mandal had carried out a health survey of manhole workers and found that they were exposed to dangerously high levels of chemical and biological pollutants in the city's eastern part, where most of the industries are located.

The study also confirmed the presence of toxic chemicals like ammonical nitrogen, chlorides and hydrochlorides, sulphates and nitrates. It also pointed out that the industries using nitric acid, sulphuric acid and hydrochlorides were dumping their waste into sewers.

Metals like mercury, lead and chromium were also found. And workers were unaware of the deadly poisoning.

The exposure of the workers to ammonia, chloride, hydrochloride, nitrates and nitrites, hydrosulphide, arsenic, chromium, lid and mercury create different types of health hazards affecting the various parts of the body particularly skin, eye and respiratory track.

Cases of lungs cancer and poisoning are also found. The medical check-up revealed that at any given point in time, 680 ailments could be identified.

The workers were found to have more than one problem _ respiratory problem, urinary track infection, eye and ear infection, backaches and skin infections.

The workers did not have access to even basic health services, drinking water, proper accommodation. No training programmes on safety measures for workers are conducted. Protective gears are either absent or totally outdated.

The petitioners have gave a number of examples showing the suffering of workers. They have submitted that a number of demands have not been met by the authorities.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Girish Patel contended that manhole workers require to work inside the sewerage, and their dying in accidents or diseases was slur on the corporation and the government.

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

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Health minister gets cracking Thursday, October 11, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The state government on Wednesday placed a senior doctor in-charge of the primary health centre at Zinzuvada in Surendranagar district under suspension on the charge of dereliction of duty at a time when several cases of malaria have been reported in the town and surrounding areas in the last three months.

At least 36 deaths have been reported during the period.

The action followed health minister I K Jadeja's surprise visit to the town along with senior officials of his department.

The minister told mediapersons that the health department has launched massive precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease to other areas.

More than 300 people are still afflicted with malaria in the rural areas of Zinzuvada, Patdi and Bajana where ten medical teams have been rushed to distribute medicines and provide treatment. Many have been shifted to nearby hospitals where their condition had shown improvement.

Jadeja said two mobile medical units had also been rushed to the salt-producing areas of the district to assist the local health authorities.

Though the minister did not reply to queries on reasons that led to spread of malaria, it is learnt that the Congress-ruled district panchayat had not taken adequate precautionary measures which led to the serious situation.

The government has, with the help of NGOs working in salt pans of Surendranagar district, launched a cleanliness drive in Zinzuvada which has a population of 10,000.

The minister said that health commissioner has been asked to keep close watch on the epidemic front and, if need be, deploy more medical teams for house-to-house survey of patients.

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

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Traffic circle lose corporate patronage Thursday, October 11, 2001

VADODARA: Cross-roads in several parts of the city suddenly seem to be dotted with barrels and concrete boulders. What might have seemed temporary arrangements, has come to stay at place for a long period now.

Well-planned and aesthetically developed circles were always a part of the city planning in Vadodara. So much so that, circles like the Rhino Circle, Bird Circle or the Kalaghoda Circle have become famous landmarks.

These circles were traditionally built or adopted by leading corporate houses in the city. The civic body and traffic police always seem to have played the trump card of "social responsibility" to get these circles constructed from leading companies.

However, of late, getting sponsors for such projects seems to have become a difficult task. According to officials sources, industrial houses are now expressing difficulty in taking up such projects. The reason being a severe cash crunch faced by the industry due to recession in the economy.

Officials said several attempts were made by them to persuade corporate houses to take up projects for constructing circles in various parts of the city.

"When the industry gives up saying that they are in financial problems, there is little we can do. So much so that, some of them made promises regarding such development work, but pulled out later," an official said.

Assistant commissioner of police (traffic) Siddharth Khatri pointed out there were around 10 junctions in the city where barrels and boulders are being used to make circles.

To make them visible another cost-effective idea of whitewashing them has been used. Interestingly, such crude traffic circles can be seen on several major roads and posh areas like the Race Course road, Muktanand cross-road in Karelibaug, Susen cross-road in Makarpura, Ambalal crossing on Vaghodia road and several others.

According to Khatri, "Barrels are something that can be obtained easily and are cheap. Since we have no funds to make circles or traffic islands, we rely on them heavily these days."

Khatri pointed out that the municipal corporation too was unable to allocate funds for such major projects. "They have their problems and we have been relying on private companies since several years now," Khatri said.

According to rules, the corporation's permission is must for constructing the circles. "The road on which the circle has to be constructed is corporation's property. The construction can begin if the corporation gives this space and the traffic department clears it stating that it will not obstruct traffic," an official said.

Deputy municipal commissioner (administration) J M Sevak said that a joint committee of the municipal corporation and traffic police was responsible for the job.

"While construction of circles is not compulsory, it has been taken up from time to time using sponsorships. However, sponsorship is a voluntary gesture and cannot be forced upon someone," Sevak said.

Another aspect to be considered, Sevak said, was that of looking into the credentials of the persons taking up the project. "One would obviously not like to give such landmarks to people with questionable credentials," Sevak said.

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

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Waste mgmt norms thrown out at SSG Hospital Thursday, October 11, 2001

VADODARA: Soiled bandages, syringes and blood-stained gloves are strewn across Sir Sayajirao General Hospital compound- despite an elaborate hospital waste management system that is in place for over a year now.

On paper, the SSG has an elaborate hospital waste management plan. There are different colour categories for disposal of hazardous hospital waste management and the staff too were given training on management of waste a year ago. There are four categories of wastes and each has to be dumped as per specifications.

But the rules are not implemented efficiently due to staff apathy.

The road from the SSG emergency centre towards the hospital's incinerator is strewn with piles of garbage. Used syringes, needles, blood-stained bandages, gloves and other waste lies strewn near a public toilet close to the emergency.

This is a place where patients and relatives are present regularly. In addition to being unhygienic it emanates a noxious smell.

However, when the TNN approached SSG authorities, the hospital resident medical officer, PK Kharwa, refused to say much. "We have a good hospital waste management plan and there are no such wastes strewn anywhere," was his curt denial.

On condition of anonymity an official of the hospital said, "Despite the seminar and training programme that was organised last year for efficient management of waste in the hospital not much is implemented efficiently due to apathy of the staff especially the class four staff who are not committed to their work. One their part the hospital management is not able to implement and manage the staff."

This despite the clear guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board. The state government too has a guideline and funds too were given to SSGH, which is a 2000-bed hospital, but the attitude to work and implement plans is absent.

On paper the hospital waste management plan is elaborate. Large sums were used to acquire special coloured hand carts to manage the large output of wastes at the hospital.

But not all of its waste makes it to the incinerator or the VMC collection van. While some syringes lie strewn across the compound wall near the emergency, some bandages and gloves are dumped near a public toilet.

Dogs and pigs make their way to the garbage dumped at the incinerator where some garbage (which cannot be incinerated) has to be picked up by the VMC collection van.

"Last year the SSG had organised an elaborate seminar for the medical staff of the hospital. The class four employees who would have to implement the waste management programme were also given a talk. But despite this there is no attitudinal change and that is why these garbage dumps are visible. The doctors are unable to say much to the class four employees who are a powerful lot," said sources.

SSG Hospital superintendent Kamal Pathak is away on leave.

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

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