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September 16, 2001 - September 16, 2001

$4.5-m World Bank aid to restructure GIDB Sunday, September 16, 2001

BY RAJIV SHAH, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: The World Bank has okayed technical assistance to the tune of $4.5 million (over Rs 20 crore) for restructuring the powerful multi-disciplinary state body, Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board, chaired by the chief minister.

An agreement to this effect has been signed by the state industries department, the central Department of Economic Affairs and the World Bank. The WB comes amidst indications that international financial institutes will now bring GIDB under tight scrutiny.

The Asian Development Bank has decided to send senior economist Narhari Rao to study how well the state is utilising the $250 million it has disbursed since December 1996 for privatising the economy, with the GIDB playing a major role in attracting private sector investment in the infrastructure sector. Till recently, the sector was a public sector domain.

Rao will study the impact of the loan for two weeks in the second half of next month. He will find out how far Gujarat has progressed in privatising state PSUs and what the GIDB has done for reforming power, water, urban development, roads and other infrastructure sectors, making them more market-friendly.

"The ADB exercise is unique as Gujarat was the first state to be given a programme loan in full," remarked a bureaucrat. The ADB might consider offering more loan to the state on the basis of the study.

Meanwhile, a top official said the World Bank's new focus is backed up by the view that the GIDB should be made into a more professional body because its objective is not just to attract private investment for infrastructure projects. It also has to evolve policy the framework for various infrastructure sectors.

"We will train management graduates and other experts in the state's infrastructure-related special purpose companies formed over the last five years, including Gujarat State Road Development Corporation, Gujarat Water Infrastructure Company, Gujarat Informatics Ltd, Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation and others," the official said. "They will be trained at IIM and in several foreign countries as suggested by the World Bank."

Bureaucrats say while a legal framework for power and gas has been worked out - the Gas Act having been passed while electricity Bill is awaiting Gujarat Assembly clearance - a restructured GIDB will be able to go much faster in providing policy frameworks for setting up regulatory bodies for water, urban infrastructure, road transport and special economic zones to be developed along the coastline.

Top financial institutes say the GIDB should not be allowed to be converted into another government department. It would lose its thrust. In a recent report, ADB directed Gujarat to convert GIDB into a statutory body dealing directly with the private sector and act as a one-stop facility for co-ordinating approvals, granting licences and promoting infrastructure projects.

It said while Andhra Pradesh was doing this in a more co-ordinated manner, Gujarat had a "less efficient structure" with several sectoral departments intervening to delay projects.

Of late, no new major infrastructure projects are coming to the state. While recession could be a reason, there is clearly a lack of policy framework. The state government has been forced to consider a review of the toll tax being charged by the roads proposed to be built by the private sector as it is not proving to be viable as was the case earlier.
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Bank fraud detected Sunday, September 16, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The Naroda police have detected a bank fraud worth Rs 4.5 lakh involving the Oriental Bank of Commerce and the Rajkot branch of Andhra Bank.

B. Subbaramarao had filed a complaint with the Naroda police that M K Pathak, owner of Sky Skate Paper Mart, had deposited two demand drafts with counterfeit signatures at Oriental Bank of Commerce's Naroda branch and withdrawn the money.

Pathak allegedly opened an account with the bank and deposited Rs 5,000. He then presented two separate drafts from Andhra Bank, one for Rs 50,000 and another for Rs 4 lakh, and withdrew the money.

An inquiry by the bank officials, however, revealed that signatures in both drafts were counterfeit. The police have registered a case of cheating and forgery against Pathak.

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]


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Ahmedabad sways to Vengaboys' 'Braazeel' Sunday, September 16, 2001

By Sukrat Desai, Indo-Asian News Service
Ahmedabad, Sept 15 (IANS): "Brazeel, Brazeel" crooned the thousands who had gathered here to hear Dutch pop group Vengaboys belt out their hit song "Brazil".

The Vengaboys kicked off the concert Friday with "Brazil," "We're going to Ibiza" (eat pizza) and "Shala la la in the morning."

Then the Vengaboys broke into "We like to party" and more tracks from "The Party Album" as well as the "Greatest Hits" collection.

The Vengaboys were in Ahmedabad as part of a six-city Pepsi Vengaboys India tour. The concert was in support of Child Relief and You, an NGO that works for deprived children.

The group meet with their fans and interacted with them before the show.

"If you wanna be part of our group, you gotta pull out your pants, shirt and stand stark naked to show me your body. I'll then discuss with my band members about you," shot a brazen Kim Sasabone, head of the group when a fan inquired about the possibility of him joining the Vengaboys.

Asked whether she knew the taste of her fans, Sasabone said: "I do not know any Indian music, but I know how popular we are in Ahmedabad since I have been told that the people here go crazy after our music cassettes.

"I would like to get the hang of Indian classic music some time," Sasabone added.

Apart from Sasabone, who is known more for her provocative body language than her singing prowess, the group has Roy Den Burger, Denis Van Rijswijk and Yonick Bakker as members.

The band has performed in more than 130 countries and has gone platinum in 73 countries. Having sold over 10 million singles and over four million copies of their albums, the Vengaboys have proved to be the most successful Dutch pop group ever.

After Ahmedabad, the Vengaboys are likely to perform in Chandigarh, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Guwahati.
Source - Indo Asian News Service

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Relief and distress written all over e-mails from US Sunday, September 16, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA/AHMEDABAD: Computers screens staring at Net users poured horror and pain, anguish and agony as hundreds of mails poured in from different parts of the US, with people desperate to get in touch with their near and dear ones as New York became a target for terrorist attacks on Tuesday.

Shabana I Desai, a resident of Juhapura in Ahmedabad forwarded a message sent by her sister Shaheen, who stays in Milwaukee near Chicago which said: "Thanks for your mail of today. Please pray for our well being. It seems we are not safe here. I don't want to write anything in the e-mail. We are fine here... just keep praying for us. My kids are doing fine here. Shaz has lot of questions in his mind. I will not send him to Islamic Centre for some days. Aapa, hope you all are doing fine there. Salaam to you all and love to all the kids. Allah Hafiz."

A perturbed Shabana told TNN after receiving the message: "I am very disturbed after getting this e-mail. Though this is the worst act of terrorism which chills our spine, I want to know who will give protection to Indian Muslims living in America! Is anything being done by the government to provide security to them as well! Our government is conveniently forgetting the plight of Indian Muslims who are living in constant fear of being victimised."

Gautham Iyer, an employee at the Duetsche Bank's US headquarters, in an e-mail message to his friend in Vadodara, said: "I am alive and I have got a second birth today. It all started at 8.48 am. I just walked into the office, which is right opposite to the World Trade Centre, reading a mail. I heard a thud kind of a sound as my seat is very near to the window. Initially, I saw a lot of paper stuff falling, and when I looked up there was lot of smoke coming in and small metal particles hitting my window. I ran as fast as I could and reached the ground floor for further announcements ..."

"It's just like the earthquake, yaar ...," wrote Khyati Nayak, a city girl now studying in the US. Khyati wrote: "People are terrified ... they can't believe anything like this could happen in the US. They are sending hate-mails on the Net. I think the Americans are real nationalists."

"As my room is on the 76th floor of the WTC, I wanted to call him to find out if he is fine. So, I took the lift which were still working and went to the 9th floor. I tried calling him. Then I heard this second big sound which shook my building and saw lots of debris falling. This time big metal pieces coming towards my window. I ran fast. I ran down the nine floors in a minute ..." said Gautham in his mail.

"I witnessed one of the worst events in history. I saw everything collapse in front of me. I am not sure if I should be happy for coming out alive or sad for those thousands of people who died. There might me many friends who are trapped in it. I am fine now, but still in a state of shock. I cannot believe this has happened," added Gautham.

And, it just wasn't from the US. Mails poured in from Canada too. "Hi, what a day of terror!! I was actually afraid, because if someone can target the US, then no country in the world is safe. We could not work, and kept talking about what had happened. I heard that Nostradamus had predicted that in the first year and nine months of the new century, something like this would happen in the new city. Was he meaning New York?" wrote Dhruva Sheetal, a Vadodara girl now settled in Canada, in an e-mail to her friend.

A Vadodara-based portal, which posted a message board to connect people from Vadodara to their relatives and friends in the US, was flooded with e-mails from desperate people trying to get in touch.

"I am happy to receive the mail from your organisation. I was trying to contact my home, but could not due to the heavy traffic of phones. I am unable to contact my son and father. Could you please tell them we are safe? My brother stays in Manjalpur," wrote Jagdish Patel to the city portal.

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]


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Govt flayed for likely action against activist Sunday, September 16, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The forum of concerned citizens for the quake-affected people on Thursday criticised the reported move of the government to initiate legal action against Tapan Dasgupta, who has been involved in rehabilitation activities in Kutch, and has apprised the governor and Human Rights Commission about the possible police action against the forum activist.

In a joint statement, leading citizens like Prakash Shah, Girish Patel and Prof D N Pathak have condemned the move pleading that it would affect the rehabilitation work being carried out by the government in collaboration with the NGOs.

They said that the police had resorted to lathi-charge on quake-hit people of Bhachau when they had queued up to get tents and tarpaulin distributed by the district authorities in March. Such police action will not prove of much help when everyone is engaged in reconstruction of collapsed houses.

The forum has organised a convention of the representatives of NGOs and others concerned at Bhuj on Sunday to discuss the pending problems of the quake-affected people of Kutch.

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]


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