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November 29, 2001 - November 29, 2001

Gandhi statue blamed for frequent mishaps Thursday, November 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Twenty-four year old Rinku Shah's death in an accident at Income-tax circle on Tuesday has raked up a controversy with the police pinning the blame for the frequent mishaps at the busy intersection on faulty positioning of the Mahatma Gandhi statue.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Samiullah Ansari has decided to write to Ahmedabad Municipal commissioner Panneervel, suggesting the statue be shifted to a 'safer' spot. The 80-foot wide road has been apparently narrowed down by at least seven metres due to the memorial which is also the most sought-after venue for demonstrations.

Five years back, there was a move to relocate the statue which was turned down in the wake of political opposition. During the period, the AMC was forced to shift the statue of Veer Savarkar to a corner of Tagore hall following protests against its installation at the Paldi intersection.

Traffic sub-inspector KP Gohil, an eyewitness to Rinku's death, feels the statue ought to be relocated if lives are to be saved. Almost a month back another man lost his life at the same spot, points out Ansari.

The logic behind his argument is that every vehicle in the 11-foot lanes on both sides is forced to take a detour to avoid the statue and thus the space gets squeezed.

"The light had changed from red to green and a Maruti car, Rinku's Kinetic Honda and the ST bus started off at the same time. The car, which was near the statue, was forced to move towards the left and probably grazed Rinku's Kinetic," says Gohil.

There have been nine accidents at this intersection in this year of which two were fatal. Ten accidents were recorded last year.

An employee of Delta Rubber and Plastic products Dayal B Patel had written to Ansari a day before the accident, complaining about an arch placed at the intersection.

A copy of the letter made available to 'The Times of India' states that "after the opening of the railway underpass, the traffic load has increased to great extent".

Gohil, who does two shifts at the intersection in a day, vouches that every ten-minute demonstration results in traffic jams which extend up to two-and-a half hours.

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

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NHRC notice to state DGP Thursday, November 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has in a notice to state Director General of Police (DGP) sought a detailed report into an alleged murder of a Christian woman at Bordiyala village in Data taluka of Banaskantha district.

Taking cognisance of the complaint filed by the All India Christian Council, the commission sought the report within four months.

In the complaint to the commission, the council alleged that the victim, Markiben, was murdered in July and further stated that the police had refused to register the complaint filed by Uda Damor, husband of the victim. Moreover, the DSP did not co-operate, the complaint stated.

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

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NIIT sets high target for Gujarat Thursday, November 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: NIIT has set itself a high target of 8,500 enrolments for its Swift Jyoti programme as part of their project to enrol one lakh students nationally, to celebrate World Literacy Day on December 2. Chief Minister Narendra Modi will launch the programme in the city on November 29.

"We already have more than 1,000 enrolments in Ahmedabad," says Jay Sanghani of NIIT Ahmedabad. "I have no doubt that we will reach the target considering the interest. I have been especially surprised at the number of elderly persons who have showed interest in the programme. Many of them have relatives in the US and want to stay in touch with them through the Net."

The company has been buoyed by the interest shown by some corporates. Torrent alone has made 200 registrations for its employees outside Gujarat and it expected to add another 200 in the state. There are a number of other corporates, who would like a large number of their employees to become computer literate, but Sanghani says he will disclose their names only after receiving confirmations.

As the largest NIIT franchisee in the state, he says corporates are showing interest as they would be like to be called computer literate company.

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

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Avalanche of passport applications flummox police Thursday, November 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: With the regional passport office gearing itself up to issue passports within seven days of receiving the police verification report, the police department has been caught napping.

The grossly-understaffed Ahmedabad police, which receives some 60,000 applications annually, is finding it difficult for accomplish the task within the stipulated 15 to 30 days.

The process is also taking more time due to three-tier processing of applications received from the passport office.

The applications are first registered, sorted and sent to the respective police station by the passport division of the special branch. At the police station, the applications are again entered into the records and sent to police chowkies in-charge of a particular area, where they are once again entered into the records.

Finally, chowky processes the application. The application then goes back through the same channels to the passport office.

"We have to do it," says, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Passports) K M Rathod, expressing the department's inability to simplify the process.

He reasons that the details to be verified are as diverse as the date and place of birth, residence address and educational qualification. "Sometimes constables have to make more than one visit to the applicant's residence as, many a time, they are not present when the cops go there," says Rathod.

He feels that increase in the strength of the staff would expedite the process at the department level while increase in passport fees would discourage non-serious applicants, thereby reducing the workload.

"Preparation of verification reports is just one of the several duties assigned to the police stations and chowkies," points out Deputy Police Commissioner, Zone-I, V M Parghi, again expressing the department's helplessness in expediting the process.

Interestingly, half of the total passport applications received by the police are meant for seven police stations falling under Parghi's jurisdiction in the western part of the city.

There were 636 police personnel in deployed at the police stations falling under Zone 1 in 1981. It rose to 1,396 in 2001. But the growth in personnel was rendered ineffective by the four-time growth in the population.

According to data compiled by the police, 7.45 lakh people resided in Zone 1 of the city in 1981. This grew to 28 lakhs in 2001. Police stations falling under Zone 1 received more than 30,000 passport applications for verification last year, which was more than 50% of the total applications received by the city police.

As many as 26,282 passport applications were received till October-end this year and officials say it would easily cross the 35,000-mark by the end of the year.

Satellite police station received 7,468 applications last year. This year, it had accounted for 7,100 applications till October-end.

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

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JAMNAGAR :: Brass parts industry loses its sheen Thursday, November 29, 2001

JAMNAGAR: Yet another traditional industry is about to bite the dust. Blame it on liberalisation or 'Chinese invasion', the brass parts industry of Jamnagar, which was famous the world over, is today struggling to survive.

Of the 6000 brass parts units in the city, as many as 1000 have closed shop while another 700 are on the verge of following suit. The remaining units are functioning at 50 per cent their installed capacity.

The industry, which provided direct and indirect employment to nearly one lakh people, is in a crippled state with 60 per cent of the workforce rendered jobless.

The slowdown in the once flourishing industry began in the early '90s but the downward slide gained momentum after October 1997.

While speaking to 'The Times of India', Jamnagar factory owners association president Ramjibhai Patel and vice-president Virjibhai Patel said the situation was so grim that some of the units were forced to observe a two-day holiday every week. They said there was no demand for their products ever since the 'Chinese invasion'.

"Though there is a shortfall in power supply to the units, its impact is not being felt as the factory owners lack enough orders to continuously run their machines," pointed out Virjibhai.

In a shocking revelation, the association president said that the owners of 10 per cent of the closed units had fled, bogged down by debts and on realising that operating their units was getting increasingly difficult.

The industry used to supply brass parts for defence equipment and space shuttles. It also catered to the building and automobile industry.

The downfall of the industry could be attributed to four reasons _ 'Chinese invasion', faulty government policies, the local situation and an "unhelpful bureaucracy", the association office-bearers said.
The industry used to supply goods to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai besides exporting to Australia, the United Kingdom, the US and the Gulf, said Ramjibhai. He alleged that the entry of Chinese goods had made the brass parts industry in Jamnagar reduntant.

Ramjibhai said that while the import duty on brass scrap, the main raw material, was a whopping 63 per cent, it was just 10 percent in China. This made its products far more cheaper which, in turn, had made survival most difficult for the Jamnagar units.

"There is an urgent need to change the import policy of the government," averred Ramjibhai, warning that "if this is not done the industry will turn extinct within the next five years".

According to Virjibhai, the government policy is "faulty" as it gives incentives to exporters while the manufacturers are left high and dry.

He felt there was even discrimination between the small and large units. While Customs duty on large units was less, it was high on the small-scale units. "In fact it should have been the other way round," he remarked.

The association leaders said that brass parts were used in production of almost all items of daily use including bicycles and electronic items, yet there was no help or incentive from the government. In fact the government had adopted a stepmotherly attitude to the industry.

On the other hand, the government of China had stood by their local producers and seen to it that their goods are dumped on India.

They claimed that the Jamnagar products were renowned the world over for their durabilty. "There is
no quality, but only quantity coming from China," remarked Virjibhai. "It is easy to buy anything cheap while not considering the durability factor," he observed, while admitting that there has been a sea change in people's buying preferences.

He alleged that lack of long-term planing by the government agencies which had led to the present situation. "The government changes its export policies quiet often, leading to a lot of confusion."

Industry sources said while ordnance factories and Railways are their biggest clients, the government had not thought it fit to open their purchase depots at Jamnagar.

"If this is done the local units will get a boost and the move will help the industry provide specialised service. The ordnance factories will receive their supplies faster while factory owners will not have to go in search of clients," the association said.

Meanwhile, even as the brass parts industry is on its deathbed, related sectors like transport, labour and packaging have also been badly affected. They, too, are facing the prospect of a bleak future. The transporters are the worst affected as they have to pay large sums as interest on loans taken to purchase their vehicles.

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

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