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September 15, 2001 - September 15, 2001

CM targets Congress in round two of campaign Saturday, September 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel on Thursday alleged that the Opposition Congress had resorted to spreading lies since it was left with no issues for constructive criticism of the BJP government which had made major strides in all fields in the last three years.

Addressing election meetings at Amirgadh, Iqbalgadh, Dhaniana, Virpur and Vadgam in the second round of his campaign, Keshubhai asserted that the people of the state had witnessed the "goonda raj" of the Congress and under no circumstances would elect that party's nominee in the bye-election on September 20.

Listing his achievements, Keshubhai said the government had undertaken integrated development of rural and urban areas. In the process, civic amenities have been augmented in towns and cities. The laying of a drinking water pipeline for Saurashtra in a record time of 18 months was an example.

To provide employment to educated youth, the government had launched a unique project to absorb one lakh unemployed persons in part-time jobs who would be paid monthly wages of Rs 1000.

He exuded confidence that the voters would teach a befitting lesson to the Congress.

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

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KPT to spend over Rs 95 cr to improve infrastructure Saturday, September 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Kandla Port Trust (KPT) has marked an investment of Rs 95.10 crore for improving infrastructure facilities at the port during the current financial year. This fund would come from internal accruals of the KPT.

This is part of the investment which the port management earmarked for projects in its Vision 2010 declaration to achieve a competitive edge over other ports.

Besides this, the KPT has already spent Rs 7 crore on the repairs of infrastructure facilities damaged in the January 26 quake. Another Rs 37-crore worth repair work is in progress at the

The dry cargo traffic at this port during the current year up to the end of August, 2001 increased by 6.10 lakh tonnes as compared to corresponding period last year, despite threat of cyclone during May when the port operations were suspended for six days. This was 19 per cent higher than dry cargo handled in the corresponding period last year.

The new infrastructure that the KPT would develop at the port during the year include construction of 11th cargo berth, procurement of four heavy duty cranes, upgradation of fire fighting facilities at the oil jetties, construction of additional storage godown in cargo jetty area and others.

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

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MSU alumni also in WTC Saturday, September 15, 2001

VADODARA: "We are sure at least 10 MSU alumni were working in the WTC. We are trying to trace them. I hope they are safe", said MSU officer on special duty Rumy Mistry. "They all studied in the faculty of technology and engineering here, and had passed out between 1967 and 1974. Some of them were working with Morgan Stanley", he added.

Mistry is co-ordinating with MSU alumni in the US for some development projects of the university.

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

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New BSNL rules set to change mobile phone billing Saturday, September 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: With the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited issuing notices to cellular operators to enforce "traffic discipline" across the country, some mobile phone users in Gujarat may suddenly find their bills shooting up. Others, of course, stand to benefit under the new regime.

Effective from September 15, cellular operators in Gujarat have been asked to route all out-going calls from the state through the Ahmedabad trans-automatic exchange. This implies that a cell user trying to call up a land-line in Mumbai from Vapi will have to pay STD charges for Ahmedabad to Mumbai.

According to an official of Fascel Limited, the caller who was initially being charged for the airtime and STD from the local station, from where the call was been made, will now have to pay from Ahmedabad onwards as all out-of-state calls from cell phones in Gujarat will be routed through Ahmedabad.

For long now, the BSNL has been directing all the cellular operator to follow the traffic discipline, the violation of which led to the corporation freezing the allotments of new lines to cellular operators for capacity expansion. The operators had approached that Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal which had further put a cap on the release of new lines till the matter was decided.

The Cellular Operators' Association of India eventually had to go for an out-of-court settlement as the freeze was affecting their business. While the COAI took back the case, the cap was removed and the BSNL released about 180 new point of intersections for land-line and cellular network compatibility in wake of expansion. The condition of the release of new POI to both CelForce and Birla AT&T was, however, that they would adhere to "traffic discipline".

With all outgoing STD calls to land-lines to be charged ex-Ahmedabad, some callers will also stand to gain. While person calling Mumbai from Vapi would have to pay more, a call made from a cellular in Palanpur to Mumbai will cost less as the STD charge will only be applicable from Ahmedabad.

Like Ahmedabad in Gujarat, the gateway for all states to route outgoing STD calls from cellular phones have been determined. For Maharashtra (apart from Mumbai), the Nagpur TAX has been set up as the gateway. Which also means that a person calling up from a land-line in Ahmedabad to a person in Pune, will have to bear STD charges for Ahmedabad to Nagpur.

Similarly a cell-to-cell call between Valsad and Virar will be charged for a STD call between Ahmedabad and Nagpur in addition to air-time charges, which would be significantly high.

The cellular operators so far have been handling outstation calls from the nearest TAXs, a practice which the BSNL said was jamming the corporation's network. BSNL said the local TAXs had smaller capacity and were unable to handle the load.

Once the new BSNL terms are enforced, while many may have to pay more, many cell users would also benefit depending on the STD band rate structure followed by the BSNL, with respect to gateways and the geopraghic locations of destinations.

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

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Rajasthan , Kerala battle it out for top honours Saturday, September 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat seems destined to watch from the sidelines two giants roll out the red carpet to tourists. Still smarting from the fact that Kerala has become the top tourist destination among states, Rajasthan has come out with an action plan to regain first place, while Gujarat, like a timid sidekick, can't even make up its mind on what its new draft tourism policy should say.

Single window clearance for most government permissions, deference of payments for new entrants and concessions in converting rural land for commercial use are some moves the RTDC announced about a month back to counter Kerala's 'God's own country' theme.

"We were caught napping," admitted former ruler of Udaipur Arvind Singh Mewar who runs the highly successful Historic Resort Group of Hotels in Rajasthan. In Ahmedabad recently to attend a meeting of the Gujarat chapter of the Indian Heritage Hotel's Association , he said, "A couple of IAS officers have taken Kerala way ahead with some excellent marketing while we were resting on our past laurels. The new concessions should help us regain our place."

Gujarat's draft tourism policy, on the other hand, still has many rough edges to be smoothed out, like getting the finance department clearance on concessions in luxury, entertainment and electricity taxes. The focus will be on working out specific niches like circuits for eco tourists and tours of religious sites.

Sources in the state government confirmed that the suggestion to give liquor permits to three-star and heritage hotels has stirred up a hornet's nest among departments and may delay the new policy. The tourism corporation has asked for details on the number of tourists such hotels receive to gauge the demand for such permits. Gujarat may also hold on to the draft till the Centre comes up with its own tourism policy by October end.

While Gujarat is busy clearing the prohibition and taxation tangles, RTDC is busy drawing up grander plans. It has already tied up with other state tourism development corporations, airlines and other companies for joint promotions apart from making Jaipur the first 'Heritage City' in India.

A new tourist train 'Dessert Queen' is expected to be launched in November in collaboration with the Indian Railways. It is expected to be an economy version of Palace-on-Wheels and would include privilege card for regular customers.

Plans are afoot to give industry status to tourism as it could induce higher investment and allow incentives like five-year sales tax holiday.

Arvind Singhji however does not see policies as the only way to promote what he calls the 'industry of the future'. "Prohibition and the government can't be the only pegs to hang your failures on," he says. "You have failed to market yourself." According to him, Gujaratis are one of the largest tourist chunks in Rajasthan. "There are hotels that run exclusively on tourists from Gujarat. We have to stop seeing only foreigners as tourists and give more importance to domestic tourism."

Arvind Singhji also asked hoteliers in their state to behave as if only foreigners have the money to spend. "Gujarat has such a large NRI community with higher spending capacity than any foreigner. The industry should learn to target them."

The Gujarat chapter of the heritage association on the other hand demanded that the state government create a separate ministry for tourism and separate it from the industry portfolio. "We would also like to see a managing director for at least five years at the tourism corporation instead of a new man every year," secretary of the association said.

Gujarat's potential to attract tourists has been discussed over the years. The tourism sector is now demanding that this potential translate into concrete gains. Perhaps the state should learn from Rajasthan and Kerala where competition is driving them to newer heights.

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

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