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September 8, 2001 - September 9, 2001

Is AMC paying its employees in fake notes? Sunday, September 9, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Is the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation paying its octroi and tax department employees in fake Rs 500 notes?

This question has been raised by Leader of the Opposition in AMC, Dharmendra Shah. Shah accuses: "Since the start of this month, I have received numerous complaints from employees of property tax and octroi departments who are now stuck with fake Rs 500 notes. Instead of destroying the fake notes worth lakhs that lie with the corporation, the administration seems to have resolved to join the illegal trade by paying its employees, thereby releasing this duplicate currency back into Ahmedabad's economy."

Municipal commissioner, K Kailashnathan said: "About six months back when I had visited the corporation's treasury the official had fake notes worth Rs 1.75 lakh to show. I have ordered a vigilance enquiry into the affair to determine the source of these fake notes."

Sources in the corporation, however, claimed that the amount of duplicate C-notes with the corporation has grown to Rs 4 lakh. "Since fake currency note generation is mostly during octroi and property tax collections, the employees are being paid in the same mode," sources said.

About a year back, following numerous complaints and cases of fake notes, the corporation had equipped all its octroi check points with currency verification machines that would help in determining authenticity of the money. That apart, AMC also established a rule wherein all those paying in Rs 500 denomination would have their name and address noted down by the octroi officials.

"Despite this practice, fake notes continue to flow in. The vigilance enquiry is on to track down the source. But, it is hardly rational to pay employees in the same fake notes. The AMC administration is yet to wake up to this highly illegal practice, one that would bring trouble for innocent employees if they are caught with these currency notes," said Shah.

Kailashnathan replied: "There is very little chance of any official wilfully being involved in this import of fake notes. The corporation earns Rs 1.5 crore daily as octroi or property tax. Through our established system of recording Rs 500 note-payers' identity, the inflow of duplicate money has been minimised. Neither is it fair to say we are paying our employees in counterfeit notes. Once investigation of the vigilance department is complete we will know."

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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Liquor flows on Ahmedabad's streets Sunday, September 9, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The scene must have been heart-breaking for any connoisseur of liquor as bulldozers and road rollers went about their task mechanically crushing nearly 1.8 lakh bottles of India-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) seized by the Ahmedabad police over the last decade under the state's dry laws.

In an operation which could have taken place only in Gujarat, the only state in the country saddled with prohibition, five heavy rollers and a bulldozer were put into action at an open space near village Bhat on Saturday afternoon to destroy liquor bottles worth nearly Rs 4 crore. The stock had piled up in different Ahmedabad police stations for the last decade after being seized under the state's prohibition law.

The operation raised quite a stink (aroma for some) as the bottles crushed under the weight of the monster machines. One could smell the liquor far and wide, making passers-by wonder whether Gujarat finally had a distillery.

"Such huge stocks had never piled up in Ahmedabad before," said city police commissioner P C Pandey, who personally inspected the huge operation for several hours with a team of 200 prohibition and police department staffers.

According to official admission, the amount of liquor seized in the state under the prohibition law has been multiplying over the last couple of years and even this could be a tip of the huge illicit market of liquor which flows freely in the state despite the dry laws.

Home secretary K Nityanandam said the state government tried to earn revenue out of the huge stockpile of liquor for long but in vain. "The high court told us to destroy the liquor seized by us," he said, adding: "We had toyed with the idea of selling the liquor to the neighbouring states, but as the procedure was extremely lengthy and cumbersome, we gave it up."

Terming the whole operation as a "routine practice", Nityanandam said he too had presided over such an event four years ago on the Sabarmati river bed which is normally dry. "In 1997, I destroyed 65,000 bottles collected from different parts of the state in a similar way," he added, with some degree of pride.

Prohibition minister Fakirbhai Vaghela had told the state Assembly last month that the state was "considering" the idea of earning some money by selling the seized liquor, but the problem was of ensuring quality in a state where a lot of IMFL liquor is believed to be spurious.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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Gujarat BJP may pay for CM's excesses Sunday, September 9, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat unit of the BJP is in a spot. It may have to cough up a couple of crores to atone for the 'excesses' of Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel.

Patel has instructed the party to foot the bill for the advertisement campaign his government conducted to deny the Comptroller and Auditor General of India's strong indictment of his foreign tours and purchase of an aircraft by the government.

As per the government's estimates, the total cost involved is Rs 2.19 crore if paid by commercial rates and Rs 1 crore as per government rates. But the BJP has been told that it will not have to shell out more than Rs 10 lakh.

The CAG had come down heavily on the chief minister's foreign tours in 1999-2000, first to the US and then to the UK, Netherlands and Belgium. The CAG also criticised the purchase of an aircraft for Rs 19.2 crore without floating global tenders. One of the two foreign trips was converted into an official visit though it was meant to be a personal one initially, the CAG said in its report.

Not liking such strong criticism, and with two bypolls round the corner, the government ran the denials for two days in nearly all major Gujarati dailies.
The campaign was managed by the chief minister's office and the state information department. Initially, it seems, the government was to foot the ad bills.

The move to deflect the bills to the party comes in the wake of reports that complaints about this fresh "avoidable expenditure" had reached the CAG office in New Delhi and the President of India.

It looks like a windfall for the newspapers now, as they can charge bills at commercial rates, instead of government rates.

BJP treasurer Surendra Patel admitted that the decision to insert the advertisements was "a political move", and added, "the party would foot the bill." The total amount the party would be paying would not exceed Rs 10 lakh, he claimed.

The denials were issued as advertisements because, sources close to the CM say, he feared a large section of the local media, already strongly pitted against him, would not publish his rejoinders.

The CM is known to have organised the whole operation on the last day of the Assembly session on August 31 when the CAG report was placed in the House.

Taking a serious view of the CAG indictment, he rushed to his Assembly chamber, immediately after hosting a lunch to mediapersons, to organise the advertisement campaign.

The CM remained in his chamber till late night and left only after he ensured that the denials were "appropriately" carried.

State information minister Bharat Barot told TNN on Saturday that he did not know whether the denials were advertisements. "If they were advertisements, at least my department would not pay for it. Nor do I know whether the BJP would pay for them. You can ask the party on this. I am not the party spokesman."

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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AMC to start regularsing illegal bldgs from Monday Saturday, September 8, 2001

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) will start regularising illegal constructions in the city from Monday. Following publication of Gujarat Regularisation of Unauthorised Development Ordinance 2001 in the Government gazette, AMC will start the procedure on 9,200-odd illegal constructions within its limits.

The year-long process will fetch AMC Rs 20 crore and by the end of the exercise, all illegal structures constructed before November 21, 2001 will be regularised after impact fee is paid. The civic body will start issuing BU permissions from mid-November. The fund collected through impact fees will be deposited in an Infrastructure Development Fund that will be used for the city.

Municipal Commissioner K Kailashnathan said that AMC has received a copy of the impact fee rules on Friday and the process will begin from next week. "While I expect 25 per cent of buildings to be regularised voluntarily by people, special attention will be paid in regularising commercial high-rises," Kailashnathan said.

In a bid to speed up the regularisation process, AMC is planning to hold Lok Darbars once a week, so that people can get a fair deal in a short time. The AMC will also publish and circulate a booklet, giving people all necessary information needed to get structures regularised.

The AMC has set a time frame of six months to fill and submit application forms after which the Corporation will start issuing notices to those who have not paid. AMC has decided to accord top priority to structural stability of buildings' as illegal constructions will have to be regularised.

"The new rules have reduced by half, impact fee rates for even 100 square metre constructions. Most city apartments and tenements will be covered under this and thus this will be a relief," said DyMC Vinay Vyasa, who is overseeing the implementation of impact fee.
Source - Indian Express

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Majlis against removal of Article 30 Saturday, September 8, 2001

SURAT: Taking note of the controversy over alleged charges on the functioning of the Madrasa educational institutes in the state, representatives of the Majlis-e Tahafuuz-e-Madaris, Gujarat resolved in its general body meeting last week in the city to protest against moves by some to remove the Article of Faith from the Constitution of India.

According to trustee Jameah Husainiyah, the baseless allegations on the Madrasa educational institutes in the country being forwarded as the basis for voicing against Article 30 of the Constitution, needs to be taken seriously as they amounted to attempts to tarnish the secular image of the country.

In a letter addressed to the President of India, the Prime Minister and the National Human Rights Commission with copies marked to the district collector and city police commissioner, the office-bearers forwarded that the Majlis held the firm conviction that the Muslims of this country are the law-abiding citizens, always upholding the sanctity and value of the supreme law of the land as outlined in the Constitution.

Further, they pointed out that the secular values of the nation are cherished by the Majlis and they too have the fundamental right of establishing and administering the educational institutions of their own choice as enshrined in Part III, Article 30 of the Constitution of India.

The letter, a copy of which is in the possession of The Times of India, also made brief reference to the landmark pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the case of St Xavier's College, Ahmedabad v/s State of Gujarat wherein the real reason of embodying Article 30 in the Constitution of India has been made explicit.

It was resolved after deliberations that the Majlis took a serious note of the demand of the removal of the Article from the Constitution and they viewed this as an attempt to deprive the Muslim community from their valuable and fundamental rights.

The Majlis viewed this as a political attempt by a section to create hatred among the communities and thus jeopardise the unity and integrity of the country. Serious accusatory attacks on the ancient system of the education preserved in the Darul-Ulooms, Maktab and Madrasas are designed to malign the spirit of brotherhood among the communities in the country, the Majlis opined.

Hence, those bent upon removing Article 30 should be discouraged by all means in the interest of the country, the Majlis demanded.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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