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September 28, 2001 - September 28, 2001

Govt may amend laws to prevent broken homes from shrinking Friday, September 28, 2001

Courtsey : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Dhiren Bhatt and his eight neighbours in the now-collapsed Parth Apartment in Gulbai Tekra had three-bedroom flats, each measuring 133 square yard. When Parth residents presented their reconstruction plans they were told that the legally the plan would have to be restricted to 55 square yard flats.

The residents of Parth are among the scores of residents of buildings that collapsed in the January 26 earthquake who are now finding that reconstruction would mean living in much smaller homes. The collapsed buildings had illegal extensions which are not being allowed under the new stricter rules imposed after the earthquake.

Think-tank of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is hard at work these days. The corporation's administrators are going through the grind trying to stop broken city homes from shrinking in the post-quake reconstruction scenario.

No less than 69 complaints are with the AMC that speak of irregularities practised by builders and developers. In some cases the FSI has been increased or that extra storey has come up on a low-rise or a pent-house added to a 10-storeyed high-rise. While in others the cantilever portion of a building has been extended illegally for more space without column or beam support and without AMC's permission.

Though the civic body's recommendations, which have been called for by the state government to resolve these cases, will differ on a case-to-case basis, the civic authorities have decided to suggest that minor illegalities be allowed to remain when broken homes are reconstructed.

Till Thursday, corporation authorities were busy holding discussions with individual house owners and discussing the pros and cons on reconstruction of their broken homes keeping the stringent General Development Control Regulations (GDCR) in mind.

"We spoke to the builder-developer community at the outset but dialogues with owners are proving to be fruitful as the latter is prepared to adjust. And, the corporation too is ready to take that extra step towards a humane reconciliation. Since other building illegalities are being regularised through levy of Impact Fee, it is only just that a suitable solution be there for those whose homes were destroyed by the earthquake," said a senior official in AMC.

So, that extra elbow room that you had in your dream home may still be there when the new house comes up but fate of that penthouse or that illegal storey or commercial establishments in place of parking lots may be doomed.

Residents of Shitalbaug Apartment in Paldi, which collapsed killing seven residents, had to actually buy out some residents to get more space. The flat was built at a time when FSI ceiling was 1.1 but the builder somehow managed an FSI of 2. Sanctioned for 96 square metres, on completion the building covered 120 square metres. Shitalbaug had 16 flats but the new GDCR allows only 11. "So we paid back Rs 5.25 lakh to each of the remaining five families. Now we are faced with reconstruction cost of Rs 4,500 per square yard," lamented a Shitalbaug resident.

The state minister for urban development, Parmanand Khattar told TNN that Section 29 (2) of the Town Planning Act empowers the state government to set aside certain rules of the GDCR in special circumstances. Of the 69 collapsed-building cases in Ahmedabad, studies and recommendations on 46 have reached the urban development department from the municipal commissioner's office. Violations of building bylaws and deviations in FSI and original plans are being considered.

"A suitable, humane solution to this impasse will soon be evolved so that reconstruction of the crumbled multi-storeys, with as little changes to its original structure as possible, can start," the minister said.

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

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HC upholds murder sentence Friday, September 28, 2001

Courtsey : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat High Court has upheld the sentence given to a murder accused by a trial court, following the testimony of a 12-year-old girl.

A division bench comprising Justice JM Panchal and Justice AH Mehta upheld the decision of the trial court judge AA Qureshi in Rajkot. Life imprisonment was awarded to Mohammed alias Batuk Karim for murder of Bhikhu Naran.

According to details of the case 35-year-old Nirmala of village Shapar near Rajkot had left her husband Dhiru Rajgor's house and was living with her daughter Sangita.

On October 29, 1991, at 11 p.m. she had physical relations with her lover Bhikhu Naran. On finding this another lover Batuk Karim murdered Bhikhu.

The incident occurred in the open ground of Lalpari lake in Rajkot before dawn. It was charged that Batuk rushed to the neighbouring Khodiyar temple and pulled away the pipe on which a trishul was fixed and attacked Bhikhu.

Nirmala was also accused of helping Batuk in the murder, but was the charge was dropped and she was released.

Mohammed challenged the decision of the trial court.

Appearing on behalf of the state, additional public prosecutor Digant Joshi submitted that Nirmala's daughter Sangita was the only witness of the incident.

It was also submitted that at such a tender age, if she gave a testimony that could go against her mother's character then what she was saying should be taken as a natural testimony and should be held in the interest of justice.

The girl said it was about morning. She was sleeping on a cloth mat beside her mother. She woke up due to some noise and found Mohammed beating up Bhikhu with a pipe.

She identified the pipe as the one in the Khodiyar temple. She also identified the cloth mat which carried the victim's blood spot.

Considering her testimony as a corroborating evidence the court accepted the same and upheld the sentence.

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

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Somnath temple renovation yatra flagged off Friday, September 28, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: A 259-km-long Sanskrutik Chetan Padyatra led by youth and cultural activities minister Mahendra Trivedi was flagged off on Tuesday by Bhavnagar Maharaja Vijayrajsinhji Raol.

Addressing a huge gathering, Trivedi said the padyatra was organised as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of renovation of Somnath temple at Prabhas Patan and the 150th birth anniversary of late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who had initiated rebuilding of the temple.
It will also reflect respect to people who had made sacrifices for the nation and Indian culture. It will also spread a message of patriotism through cultural programmes every night during its 17-day route before reaching Somnath temple.

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

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Work at AMC comes to hault Friday, September 28, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Darkened rooms and deserted offices. Localities with their representations of civic issues went back empty-handed as Congress men at Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, especially those who are chairmen of civic committees, stayed away from work.

An impromptu work boycott, called by almost all chairmen of the 13 civic committees and a growing section of Congress men angry at the party leadership in the AMC, paralysed work at the corporation on Wednesday.

The successful "bandh" at AMC also added strength to the protracted battle of disgruntled Congress men against AMC's Congress leadership, namely, Mayor Himmatsinh Patel and chairman of Standing Committee Badruddin Sheikh.

The dissident problem came to fore immediately after Sabarmati and Sabarkantha elections when Congress corporators met party-poll observers at the mayor's bungalow and pointed accusatory fingers at AMC's party leadership. This was followed by a discussion with the state party high command, where once again the group of dissidents voiced their disgruntlement.

A senior Congress man and a corporator of the AMC told TNN: "This is not a intra-party power struggle but a fight to reinstall democracy in this section of Congress leadership. This work boycott may be followed up by a visit to New Delhi to discuss the issue with senior Congress leaders. On Thursday, we will also submit a memorandum to the newly formed Congress co-ordination committee leader and city unit president at AMC, Rajkumar Gupta."

Sources added that the memorandum will speak of Congress inactivity on civic issues ever since they came to power at AMC; demand that chairmen of 13 civic committees of AMC and that of mayor be changed every year "to give everyone a chance to be at helm of affairs".

Though the Standing Committee chairman insisted that "there is nothing wrong at the AMC and that the committee chairmen may have gone out on personal business", a source revealed the reason that brought the infighting to such a pass: "Senior Congress leaders at helm of affairs of the AMC have complained to the state party high command that the present chairmen of civic committees are ineffective and inefficient. This is because we had spoken out against the weak leadership provided by the mayor and the standing committee chairman. We are not power hungry people, as portrayed by the party leadership, rather our demands, once met, will bring better days for Congress in Gujarat."

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

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Kadana power station shut down Friday, September 28, 2001

VADODARA: With the level of water at Kadana reservoir going down on account of a failed last round of monsoon, the 240 MW hydro-power station at Kadana, Central Gujarat, has had to be shut down, once again.

Its closure comes at a time when the state is in badly need of power to save standing crops.

A rise in level of water at the reservoir, in the wake of good rains earlier, had helped bring back on stream this power plant in August this year, coming after a gap of 22 months. The station had had to be shut down on October 5, 1999, following two consecutive failed monsoons.

As of today, the water level at Kadana reservoir stands at under 379 feet, below which the station cannot be allowed to function.

A similar problem at the reservoir at Ukai, South Gujarat, had led to closure of the 300 MW hydro power station there a couple of months ago.

Talking to this correspondent, Gujarat Electricity Board chief Nalin Bhatt said GEB had been trying its best to augment power generation.

In the past, the GEB has obtained surplus power from Punjab Electricity Board and the northern sector.

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

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