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September 20, 2001 - September 20, 2001

Small investors pick up money in haste Thursday, September 20, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Relieved small depositors came out of the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank's (MMCB) branches waving wads of currency notes on Tuesday as the bank started returning clients' money which had been stuck up for the last six months since the fiasco caused by Ketan Parekh. By evening, an amount close to Rs 1 crore had been paid to the customers.

For many customers, who had virtually given up hope of recovering their money, this was a moment of joy which came after months of trauma. The return of depositors' money with value of less than Rs 1 lakh is the first step towards revival of the bank under the Rs 1,100-crore revival package. Depositors are being returned money out of the money paid by the Depositors Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation.

"I was the first person to get back money from MMCB's head-office branch, after having sent my man to stand in the queue since 5 a.m.," said Yashwantbhai S Panchal. "My house had collapsed during the earthquake, and my boss gave me Rs 5,000 as special bonus. Out of this, Rs 1,000 was stuck in my savings account at MMCB when the bank closed. Now I have got back my Rs 1,000 along with Rs 21 as interest," explained a beaming Panchal.

Panchal said: "I still have another Rs 5,000 pending in a fixed deposit (FD). As the addition of interest makes the amount exceed Rs 5000, I will have to come back tomorrow to withdraw this amount as today amounts of upto Rs 5,000 only are being disbursed," he added.

Another depositor, Anjana N Modi, prematurely withdrew her FD of Rs 1,500 from the head-office branch, and was to then go to the Navrangpura branch to withdraw another FD of Rs 1,000. She has two more FDs of Rs 5,000 each, but she will withdraw them prematurely tomorrow. "I am withdrawing all my money from MMCB, that too prematurely, as I am not sure what will happen to the bank a few weeks from now," said Anjana Modi.

The general mood among MMCB depositors was to withdraw whatever they could. Even if they had to forego the higher interest rate offered by MMCB.

Crowds at the branches were not very big. At the head-office, there were around 30 depositors standing in queue, with about an equal number of policemen. Depositors were being allowed inside the bank in groups of 4-5, and most came out with their money in around five minutes.

The Nav Gujarat Banks Customers Protection Council (NGBCPC), an association formed after the closure of MMCB, was making its presence felt with its volunteers running around to control and help the depositors. "We have a core team of around 50 volunteers, all businessmen, who are actively working to help all MMCB depositors," said a volunteer of the association.

R M Shah, acting CEO of MMCB, said the bank had extended work at the customer counters by two hours so as to cope with the large number of depositors. "Over the next one week, we hope to clear most deposits of upto Rs 15,000. Thereafter, we will work out the repayment schedule for depositors with over Rs 15,000 investments," he said.

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


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Payment seats admission from September 22 Thursday, September 20, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Admissions for payments seats in FY BCom at M S University will start from September 22 for students from Vadodara city and the district. For students from outside Vadodara, admission begin on September 25.

The move follows a Gujarat High Court rejection of the application for stay on the admission process at MSU faculty of commerce here on Wednesday. Pro Vice-Chancellor V D Pathak said though the case is pending in the court, MSU will now be able to start the admission process in the faculty.

He said a decision was taken to first start the admission process from September 22 at a meeting with the review committee set up to discuss the reduction of fees (currently pegged at Rs 6,100).

Syndicate member Nilesh Shukla said, "The review committee has not decided on the extent of reduction in the fees. We plan to reduce the fee, but the amount is not decide yet," he said, adding that the decision would be taken at the syndicate meeting scheduled for September 29.

"In the meantime, we will collect Rs 6,100 from students from September 22. Later, the students can be refunded _ along with the 678 students who had already paid the same amount earlier," Pathak said.

He said students from economically-backward sections would have to give a separate application. Students hailing from outside Vadodara district would have to wait till September 25. Admission process of Vadodara students will be decided first, he said.

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


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Village with 800 families in US now breathes easy Thursday, September 20, 2001

BY SAJID SHAIKH, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
DHARMAJ, Anand: On September 11, when terrorists struck in America, Dharmaj, a small village on the fringes of Anand district having some 800 families in the US, was in complete panic.

All 17 telephone booths in the village were thronged by anxious relatives. The only cyber cafe, Pramukh Cyber Cafe on Dharmaj Chowkdi, had its cubicles full with people sending e-mails to their relatives and family members in the US.

Those who had ISD or internet facility at home (there are plenty of them here) were glued to their computer monitors till they got a reply or heard of 'all is fine, we are safe' from their loved ones in America.

Tension prevailed over the next two days. People stayed awake till late night at the tower area, the bazaar, the many chowks in the town - Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar, Subhash and Azad Chowk - as also in societies like Bhaktinagar and Ayodhyanagar.

Youngsters volunteered to relay messages of 'safety' to old parents and relatives by taking e-mail printouts. Worried relatives were perturbed with possibility of further attacks on other US cities and, when the first telephonic contact was made, people in Dharmaj insisted their family members call them up every day for a week.

By September 14, most people in Dharmaj had got comforting e-mails and phone calls. Life, since then, has returned to normal in this exceptional village which has about 800 families living in the US, 1,040 in UK and hundreds of others scattered all over the globe.

Dharmaj might be the only village to have published directories of its NRIs residing in the US, UK and East Africa. The civic amenities here can put the best of cities in pale light.

The village sports a neat and clean look with double-lane carpeted roads, with rows of streetlights over them, a swimming pool, a water park, schools independent of government aids and five speciality hospitals - each with separate campus.

A village where New York, New Jersey, Chicago and London are discussed like Manekchowk of Ahmedabad and Nyaymandir of Vadodara.

"The population of our village is about 11,000, but about 22,000 Dharmajvasis are staying abroad," says retired school principal and trustee of Maniba Vanprashthashram, Narsinh B Patel.

"My daughter was in the US. I came last month. When I heard of the attack on America, I was worried. However, after speaking to my daughter I am quite relaxed now," Patel, who is also president of Anand Jilla Shala Sanchalak Mandal, said.

"There is one Mahendra Chinubhai Patel whose daughter sustained minor injury in New York. All others who belong to our village and are currently in US are safe," said Kalpesh Patel, chairman of Dharmaj Dairy and Co-operative Credit Society.

"We have directories of Chha Gam Patidar Samaj (Patels of six villages of Sojitra, Vaso, Bhadran, Dharmaj, Karamsad and Nadiad) in America and Dharmaj Society of London. We also have a literature published on Dharmajvasis residing the world over," Patel said, adding that those belonging to Dharmaj in US have formed an association which relayed messages of well being after the terrorist attack.

"It was like a chain reply. The first relative we spoke to got messages of other Dharmaj people in US, and within hours we got their mails and telephone calls," Patel said.

The night of September 11, nonetheless, seemed to be too long for this NRI village. Every member of the village, including sarpanch Bhavna Patel, was tensed. "I was at the telephone booth trying to call my sisters in the US. We could not get through to them. The wait was very frustrating. I kept trying for three hours," said H V Patel, treasurer of Dharmaj Kedavni Mandal.

Patel was at the ISD booth in bazaar area near the village tower, and was particularly worried about his family members in Pennsylvania. "All telephone booths had over a dozen people waiting to make calls. The village was awake till late night that day. But thankfully no one from our village got hurt in the tragedy," he said.

"The rush was unprecedented at my cyber cafe. Relatives wanting to send e-mails waited for long hours," said Prathamesh Patel of Pramukh Cyber Cafi.

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


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General alert at Hazira industrial area Thursday, September 20, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
SURAT: All vital industrial installations at Hazira have been put under high security cover following the state being put on high alert by the state government in the wake of developments after the terrorist attack in the US and subsequent shifting of focus to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Elaborate security measures have been taken at Hazira by the police with active co-ordination of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) manning the public sector undertakings here.

Some of the measures taken up by the city police include mounted police patrols and setting up of 40 additional check-posts in the city. Hazira industrial complex being close to the Arabian Sea, intensified coastal patrolling has been on at the Hazira-Valsad coastline with active support from the respective area police, according to city Police Commissioner Vineet Kumar Gupta.

At an emergency meeting of the state Cabinet last week, the developments were reviewed in the light of the fact that Gujarat is border state and has vital installations at many places, including the ones in Hazira industrial complex here.

Necessary co-ordination between different security wings, with specific instruction to local law and order agencies, has been given utmost priority.

Gupta, who made a detailed inspection of the Hazira complex on Monday, told TNN that security measures had been beefed up and all vital installations at Hazira and textile and diamond markets have been put on general alert.

Extra vigil is being maintained at railway station and the bridges in the city. All hospitals in the city have been asked to make necessary arrangements in case an emergency arises.

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


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Gujarat By-Elections :: Cong-BJP locked in keen fight Thursday, September 20, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Campaigning for crucial by-elections to Sabarkantha Lok Sabha and Sabarmati Assembly constituencies came to a close at 5 pm with both the BJP and the Congress locked in a keen battle. The by-polls are scheduled for Thursday.

The outcome is considered crucial for the future of politics in Gujarat.

From Wednesday, door-to-door canvassing will begin in Sabarkantha and Sabarmati.

State's Chief Electoral Officer, Gurcharan Singh, told TNN that the Election Commission had not received any complaints from either side regarding violation of code of conduct.

Interestingly, after the US strikes, the BJP finds the voter sentiment tilting in favour of Hindutva. "For the past couple of days things are looking up for us," said a BJP functionary.

The BJP is also thanking its luck on the MMCB issue. The bank's depositors have started getting back their money beginning Tuesday, just in the nick of time, it's felt.

On the Congress side, Narhari Amin's contest is also Yatin Oza's battle against the BJP. The Congress camp looked a bit rattled after LK Advani addressed a mammoth public gathering in his brief stopover at Ahmedabad, but Congress leader Girish Dani said "these elections will prove to be the Waterloo of the Keshubhai Patel government".

Besides Yatin Oza making a dent in the BJP vote bank, the Shiv Sena candidate Bharat Thakker, who took out a big rally on Tuesday, is also giving jitters to the ruling party.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Amarsinh Chaudhary has protested against the government's directive to make it mandatory for voters to have their identity cards while casting votes.

"This is likely to dissuade voters from exercising their franchise," he told reporters on Tuesday.

Gurcharan Singh said the Commission has made elaborate arrangements for peaceful polling in Sabarkantha, where 348 out of total 1406 polling booths have been declared sensitive. The constituency has 11,57,492 electorate while in Sabarmati all the 322 polling booths were sensitive.

The number of electorate in this constituency is 3,03,540. The polling per cent of the previous election was 60.12 in Sabarkantha and 54.49 in Sabarmati.

In Sabarkantha eight candidates, including BJP`s Upendra Trivedi and Madhusudhan Mistry of the Congress, are in the fray. In the Assembly constituency of Sabarmati 12 candidates are contesting.

The counting of votes will be over on Saturday within few hours as electronic voting machines will be used for polling.

The Election Commission has sent three senior officials as observers for monitoring the Sabarkantha election, while two observers will monitor the Sabarmati electoral process.

In Sabarmati three deputy commissioners of police will look after the law and order. They will be assisted by 80 police inspectors and 146 PSIs, along with more than 2,000 policemen and SRP jawans. The RAF and some companies of para military forces will kept on stand-by in both the constituencies.

For Sabarmati the counting will be held at LD College of Engineering, while for Sabarkantha the counting will take place at Government Polytechnic, Himmatnagar.

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


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