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September 15, 2001 - September 15, 2001

It's back to school for teachers, students Saturday, September 15, 2001

VADODARA: It will be a celebration delayed. But, they want it anyway. Students in one of the city's schools, happy to be back in their uniform and among books, asked the principal if they could celebrate Teachers' Day now that schools have reopened.

Across the city's school campuses _ which came back to life after a lull forced by the fortnight-long teachers' strike _ students got to their classes with mixed emotions. Some had their hearts beat for their teachers despite the lost days. A few, however, thought their teachers could have been a bit more considerate towards them.

On Thursday, it was 'back to school' for students and teachers who were forced to step down from their irreconcilable stance. The agitation abruptly folded up quietly. Though some teachers believe that it could be a temporary relief.

Even as thousands of teachers from Bharuch, Panchmahals, Dahod and Vadodara organised a massive rally in the city braving the pollution and the heat on Wednesday, their leaders sat across the table with the state government and reached an "agreement". They appealed to teachers to start teaching in the larger interest of education.

All schools in the city, which receive government grant, started functioning normally. But many teachers here felt cheated. "We were not informed neither about the talks with the government nor the demands. Though I am happy to be back to school once again. We do not really know what we achieved in the last 15 days. The leaders seem satisfied, but we need an explanation," said one teacher.

Most teachers said they were not aware of the actual demands which the teachers' associations were making. "But we had to join in with them to show solidarity," they said.

Many parents felt the agitation was destined to die its own death. "They did not have support for their cause. The use of derogatory posters during the agitation was in bad taste. Public opinion clearly was going against them," said a parent, waiting for his ward near the school gate.

The students, on their part, were happy to got to school after a refreshing "holiday". "I am happy schools have started. It was getting quite tiresome staying at home," said a student of standard XI. According to her, teachers should not disrupt classes to pressurise the state government.

However, leaders of the teachers' association said their strike was "temporarily" withdrawn till October 2, and that they had not bent. "We wanted to find a middle path. If both sides were rigid then we could not have come to any agreement. The state government has informed us that if we withdraw the strike, our demands would be considered. We saw the larger interests, and decided to withdraw the strike for the moment. If our demands are not looked into, we plan to resume the agitation in October," said J K Patel, convenor of the Vadodara City Teachers' Association.

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

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Non-teaching staff strike in SGU Saturday, September 15, 2001

SURAT: Administrative activities in the colleges affiliated to the South Gujarat University (SGU) remained paralysed on Friday with all the non-teaching staff being on strike.

Around 800 non-teaching staff members of SGU gathered near Chowk Bazar on Friday and organised a 'mahaarti' of candles to press for their demands that include an increase in conveyance allowance, uniformity in pay scales, pension options, immediate filling up of the vacant posts and disparity in retirement age for teaching and non-teaching staff.

Later, during the day a delegation met state law minister Hemant Chapatwala in the city and submitted a memorandum containing the list of their long-pending demands.

When this correspondent visited the Department of Business Management and other faculties here on the SGU campus on Udhana Magadala Road, the usual gathering of students, teaching and non-teaching staff was not seen. Only some administrative staff working on ad hoc basis were seen in the business department.

Sources in the university said a rally would be taken out on Saturday from Chowk Bazar to Athwalines, while the next course of action would be decided in the general body meeting to be held later. Attempts to contact university authorities proved futile, as all the offices - located in the makeshift quarters since the closure of the main administrative building due to damages it suffered in the January 26 earthquake _ of faculty members were found to be locked.

On condition of anonymity, a senior officer in the registrar's office said that the strike was long due, as in the last 25 years, there had been no attempts to even look into the problems of the non-teaching staff here.

Even the Desai Committee, which recommended revised pay scales, have not been implemented fully in the SGU, as a result there was anomaly in the pay structures even in the same scale. Employees have been demanding for various pension options to choose from, but the university authorities so far have been inconsiderate. Even the retirement age, being different for non-teaching staff from that of the teaching staff, has not been given any consideration, though the employees from both the categories are under the same institution.

A senior non-teaching administrative officer said the number of colleges since 1976, the year when the last recruitment was done, has almost doubled to 77 in SGU with a total strength of over 1 lakh students, but no appointments have been made. As a result, the existing staff, reduced by retirements and transfers, have been coping up with the extra loads in matters of administration. Hence, the demand for appointments must be fulfilled in the interest of smooth running of the university, he said.

Vice-chancellor Prem Sharda told TNN if the strike continues for long, then certainly it would have an adverse impact as the administration is responsible for many co-related functions of the university. However, he denied of any impact as far as on teaching was concerned. By and large, all the departments are through with their admission for the current academic session, he informed. But, in some of the postgraduate departments, the admission process is yet to be over for a few seats, which might get delayed a little further, if the strike is not called off soon, Sharda said.

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

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Surat telecom to have private agencies to collect bills Saturday, September 15, 2001

SURAT: Soon private agencies will be entrusted with registration of new telephone connections in the Surat Telecom District. Tenders will be floated and bids for providing the service will be invited.

According to principal general manager Pradeep Kumar, the proposal with details of appointing marketing agents would be given a final shape within a fortnight. The commission will be fixed on specific criteria, Kumar told reporters at a press meet on Friday.

Under the scheme, agents will be authorised to collect bills by cheque from subscribers and in turn, they will get commission.

Among other measures to make the service subscriber-friendly, account managers, to be selected from the departmental staff, will be given the responsibility to be accountable areawise for redressal of problems as well as to provide personalised services to subscribers.

However, for the time being, only those with high bill amounts per bi-monthly cycle will be covered.

Announcing several schemes, Kumar said installation charge would not apply in the case of telephone concession for freedom fighters, war widows, gallantry award winners and disabled soldiers.

President's police medal winners will be exempted from registration, installation and rental charges, he added.

A 2K CDOT MBM exchange has been commissioned at Mandvi taluka in place of the 1,400 line CDOT exchange. Minimum period of safe custody of telephone charges is also being changed from six to three months and the rental after three months will be reduced from 40 to 20 per cent, he added.

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

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Rape accused sentenced to 10 years' RI Saturday, September 15, 2001

SURAT: The city court on Wednesday sentenced one Ramsingh Vasava to 10 years' of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 5,000 on charges of raping a minor in the past near Kim.

According to police, the victim was a five-year-old girl. She was a neighbour of Vasava in the Seemalij village near Kim. She was lured by Vasava on the promise of buying a new footwear and was taken to a sugarcane field where the crime was committed.
One dies in road mishap

One person riding a motorcycle died when it was hit by a speeding jeep near Vyara on Wednesday afternoon. The victim has been identified as Ramchandra Pande.

According to police, the incident took place when Pande was on his way to meet a friend. The driver of the jeep also suffered injuries, the police said.
Body of ex-SMC employee found

The body of a retired corporation employee was recovered by the city police from the banks of the Tapi near Adajan on Wednesday morning.

According to police, the victim, Manharlal Thakor, was missing since last Saturday and had sustained severe injuries on his leg due to a fall. Despite treatment, the pain persisted and Thakorbhai reportedly couldn't bear it anymore. This might have prompted him to commit suicide, the police said. The police are investigating further.
Constable arrested on drinking charges

The city police arrested a police constable, Navneet Nathubhai, on charges of drinking and harassing his family members here near Adajan area on Wednesday morning.

According to police, the constable returned home after his night duty and being drunk, he abused his brother and sister-in-law. Later, he was handed over to the Rander police. The police are investigating further.
3 arrested for duping traders

The police on Wednesday arrested three youths accused of duping traders by posing as consumer rights protectors.

The police said the trio, part of a seven-member gang, used to move around in the Olpad-Kamrej taluka threatening and extorting money from traders and demanding samples of oil and grains on the pretext of conducting quality checks.

The offence came to light when a trader in Seevan village got suspicious. He engaged the three in a talk and then raised an alarm. The district police are investigating further.
Body of a cleaner found in naphtha tanker

The body of a cleaner was taken out of a naphtha tanker from Kadodara crossroads on Wednesday. The tanker was empty after it offloaded naphtha in Mumbai and had returned back to Kododara. The cleaner has been identified as 30-year-old Ramesh. The body was sent for post-mortem to ascertain the cause of death.

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

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Tremors in Saurashtra spread panic Saturday, September 15, 2001

RAJKOT: A series of mysterious "blast-like" tremors rattled Rajkot and several parts of Saurashtra on Thursday afternoon creating panic among people who ran out of their houses for safety. Tremors were also felt in Kothariya, Padadhari, Dhrol and several parts of Jamnagar districts, according to reports reaching here.

The local authorities, police and district collectorate could not identify the cause of "blasts accompanied by tremors". The epicentre of the tremors was about 130 km away from Bhuj.

The two tremors, one at 12.40 pm and the other at 2.30 pm, sent shockwaves among people, as the sound accompanied by the tremor created an impression as if some blasts had taken place, forcing people to come out of their houses.

The intensity of the second tremor was high, and doors and windows at many houses rattled for a few minutes. There were no report of damage of property or casualty from any part of Saurashtra till evening.

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

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