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November 28, 2001 - November 28, 2001

Modi loses out in BJP revamp in Gujarat Wednesday, November 28, 2001

AHMEDABAD: In a major revamp of the BJP organisation in Gujarat, coming 50 days after Narendra Modi took over as chief minister, Suresh Gandhi and Nalin Bhatt were nominated as general secretaries of the state party unit on Tuesday.

Modi’s choice for party’s presidentship, Dilip Sanghani, had to be content with the vice president’s post. The announcements were made by party president Rajendrasinh Rana who is presently in New Delhi.

The changes mean that Bhatt, an old RSS hand steeped in the Hindutva ideology, will have to relinquish the post of chairman of the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB).

While the new office-bearers are yet to be assigned work, it is believed that Gandhi, who was so far the vice president, will be in-charge of the organisation in place of Sanjay Joshi who has been shifted to Delhi.

Gandhi, in his mid-50s, is a former school principal from Sabarkantha who is an RSS nominee in the organisation. Jayantibhai Kewat stays as general secretary and Surendra Patel, who is also chairman of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority, remains the BJP treasurer.

Insiders say that Modi has not been able to have his say completely in the revamp, as he was insisting on Sanghani, a five-term MP from Amreli and his close friend, as party president.

However, he has managed to induct Sanghani as vice president under a compromise formula.Another of Modi’s close aide, Amit Shah, who was earlier vice president, has not been given any organisational responsibility and is tipped to become chairman of the programme implementation committee.

The BJP had also toyed with the idea of making the present revenue minister, Haren Pandya, a general secretary in the organisation but the idea fell through. Party sources said while Gandhi himself was not very experienced to run the party, it is Nalin Bhatt who may wield a lot of clout, because he had served as general secretary and knows the party cadres quite well.

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

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Police gear up for gram panchayat polls Wednesday, November 28, 2001

SURAT: With the state gram panchayat elections scheduled to be held on December 23, the district police have geared up to ensure a fair and peaceful polling process.

The measures to be initiated shortly include keeping a tab on all anti-social elements, as unlike assembly or parliamentary polls the gram panchayat elections are keenly contested ones, where the enmity factor threatens to snowball into major law and order problem.

The political differences make it a tough task for local law enforcing agencies and the Election Commission to strike a cordial note at the grassroot level for this kind of democratic exercise, say political observers.

According to district police superintendent K L N Rao, the cutting edge in these local level elections are so narrow that differences hardly remain a secret. Differences crop up even among one's kin, who follow different political ideologies.

To ensure a smooth polling process, the district police is banking on its intelligence network to keep them posted on any untoward incident before or during the polls.

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

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Gir’s lions face a new menace Wednesday, November 28, 2001

AHMEDABAD: It is not just the controversial temples and mosques, encroachments or opening of roads, that is affecting the Asiatic lion in its last abode —the Gir forests. Surprisingly, changes like increasing density of Gir due to tall vegetation and thickening of forests is also rendering it unsuitable for the king of the jungle to lead a normal life, believe experts.

The changes are quite shocking — the phenomenon has affected the group structure of the lions. Experts believe that there are lesser lions living together in a group than before. And it is feared that the phenomenon is also likely to change the hunting patterns of the lions. ‘‘Very dense forests in Gir are not conducive for lions, though it may be good for tigers. Hunting behaviour of the lions is unlike that of tigers’ since they cannot move very fast and will be forced to change their habits or evolve as per the needs of the new surroundings,’’ believes director of Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation (GEER) H S Singh.

Singh perceives yet another significant change in Gir. ‘‘There is a perceptible increase in population of lions in the Gir-east (Amreli) area, as compared to the Gir-west (Sasan-Junagadh) area.’’ Forests officials believe that the sparser vegetation in the eastern Gir, besides presence of more cattle is responsible for this phenomenon.Concerned over similar factors affecting lions and their environment, a 10-year Biodiversity Conservation Plan for Gir 1996-2005 (BCPG) was formulated by Singh and R D Kamboj.A mid-term review of the same was held recently to consider how it was doing and experts felt that the Gir forests should be thinned down, at least, experimentally in some patches.Suggestions like old teak-wood plantations, which are no good for herbivores, be removed to make way for more growth of grass and for movement of spotted deer, also came along.

‘‘We are seriously considering this aspect and will be implementing it soon. Experiments will be carried out in some teak patches,’’ says principal chief conservator of forests Sanat Chavan.
Past experience has led foresters and wildlife experts to believe that there is a need for strengthening the satellite population areas of lions.

Reviewers also found that Asiatic lions are now dispersed in their old territories (prior to 1900 AD) and have created a niche for themselves. Hence, they saw a need for unified management system to manage lions spread everywhere.

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

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Chaos on Rajkot roads continues Wednesday, November 28, 2001

RAJKOT: The expectations raised by the Rajkot Municipal Corporation's promise to publish a preliminary report, detailing steps to resolve the city's traffic problems, have come to nought.

The report, to be prepared at a cost of Rs 20 lakh, was to be made public within a month, but is yet to see the light of the day though almost two months have passed.

The city has been plagued by perennial traffic problems which has led to chaos on roads. The city police had organised seminars and workshops and invited suggestions from the public to arrive at a solution to the vexed issue, but all these failed to yielded any result.

Even as the police were searching in vain for a solution, the municipal corporation stepped into the arena, asking an expert team to conduct a survey and offer solutions.

The city engineer of the civic body had promised that he would come with a plan which would ease traffic jams, rampant in the city, and ensure smooth flow of vehicles. He had also promised to suggest the necessary changes to be made at major intersections.

However, the city engineer's move failed to convince many experts who pointed out that the people themselves know which are the points in the city plagued by frequent traffic jams. But neither the civic body nor the traffic police were making a concerted bid to solve the issue.

It is common knowledge that the worst-affected by traffic congestion is the road from Nagrik Bank leading to session court with vegetable market falling in between.

The road is a driver's nightmare with the vegetable vendors transacting business right on the middle, allegedly with the 'blessings' of the traffic police.

The fact that the traffic constable personnel posted there remain mute witness to the aggression of the vendors lends credibility to the allegation of 'haftas' changing hands.

On the stretch of the road from Rajkumar College to Malaviya Chowk, the footpaths have been encroached upon by fruit juice vendors. So comfortably ensconced are the 'juicewallahs' that the customers can have the stuff while sitting inside their cars or on the two wheelers.

What was once a footpath now houses nothing less than a dozen fruit juice stalls! Even though many a police mobile pass through the road, the cops prefer to turn a blind eye to the happenings right before them and also take care not to raise any objections to the encroachments.

Members of the public, always at the receiving end of the vendor-police nexus, have no other option, but to walk on the road rather than risk drawing the ire of the vendors by treading the footpath. Not surprisingly, the area has accounted for many fatal road mishaps!

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

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Surat’s diamond industry hopes hinge on X-Mas Wednesday, November 28, 2001

SURAT: Hit hard by the on-going economic recession and the September 11 attacks on the US, the diamond industry here is in dire straits, with a slump in export of processed precious metals by over 25 per cent.
However, there is a ray of hope, with the Christmas season approaching, which is usually a boom period for gems and jewellery in the Western world.

But, by all accounts, the current financial year will not match the statistics of the last financial year for the Indian diamond, gems and jewellery industry, according to trade analysts.

In the last financial year the Surat diamond industry exported processed diamonds, gems and jewellery worth over Rs 36,000 crore.

Following the terrorists attacks on the WTC and the subsequent fall out in the diamond trade centres located in Manhattan, the export to the US, which is a major buyer of Indian diamonds, gems and jewellery and accounts for over 50 per cent of the total export of precious metals from India, is likely to be less this year.

According to trade experts, no substantial advance trade commitments have taken place since September 11 and even payment on previous deals have got blocked due to factors involving multilateral trade obligations.
Export of gems and jewellery was less by 14 per cent during April and August this year, as compared to the corresponding period in the last financial year.

‘‘With Christmas approaching, there is hope of improved scenario in the international market,’’ according to Sanjay Kothari, chairman of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, India.

He said that despite the slump India has been able to maintain its global market share, as compared to Belgium and Israel — the other two major exporters.

As far as China is concerned, despite its recent endeavours to grab a major market share in collaboration with multi-nationals and by way of incentives, no impact has been seen on the Indian diamond industry, Kothari elaborated.

To regain the share in the international market, exporters are also thinking of exploring other markets than the ones existing so far.
For this, several European countries are being studied for export purposes by the diamond exporters from India, according to sources in the industry here.

To tide over the crisis in view of the slump in exports the world over, Surat Diamond Manufacturers Association president Pravin Nanavati said that the domestic markets should be developed.

For this, he suggested that costing factors should be brought down by processing less expensive yellow or round diamonds, rather than white ones, which are almost four times costlier per carat.

Further, to counter the potential threats from China and other countries, the industry here needs to be oriented professionally with adequate input both at the men and machine levels, according to Indian Diamond Institute director K K Sharma.

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

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