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September 4, 2001 - September 4, 2001

CERC warns govt on genetically modified foods Tuesday, September 4, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad, in a memorandum has called upon the Union agriculture ministry not to allow unrestricted import of food items without proper health and quality checks at entry points.

Also, it advised consumers not to buy any imported foods unless they conformed to Indian food standards and also carried a "GM Free" label.

"Without giving much attention to systems needed to ensure quality, like testing for communicable diseases, checking for proper labelling, the government is hastily allowing these imports," CERC stated in the memorandum, and warned that considering the prevalence of mad-cow disease in Europe, the issue was more serious than realised and important.

It stated that the government was first allowing a whole lot of meat items under the free trade list and then making sanitary permit mandatory. At the same time, fish and other seafood products were being exempted from such a permit.

"One doesn't understand the logic behind the exemption, since fish and other seafood may be contaminated with mercury and other pollutants," it stated.

CERC also referred to the issue of genetically modified (GM) imported food items and their safety. GM technology allows shifting of genes from totally unrelated species to bring about characteristics like increased yield, taste, pest-resistance, etc.

CERC stated that in a clear violation of the provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA), many imported packaged foods were being allowed to sell without giving the consumer full information. Some product labels are not even in English, let alone Indian languages.

Greenpeace India has tested Isomil baby food and Pringles' potato chips and has found them positive for genetically engineered ingredients. As Isomil is meant for infants, the manufacturers _ Abbott Laboratories _ should have labelled its GM-status.

Procter and Gamble of Japan has recalled 8,00,000 units of Pringles' chips, largely consumed by children, after it has been discovered that they contain unapproved genetically modified potatoes. Pringles is imported into India and sold without any label regarding its GM status.

CERC called upon the government to see that GM food products without proper label were not allowed to be sold in the country. "These foods are in the market because of our lax regulations", it added.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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City buses go off the road for 6 hours Tuesday, September 4, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The week has certainly had an ominous start for Kalpana Shah, a sales representative of a multinational company. She found herself stranded at Lal Darwaja bus stand at 1.25 pm.

Headed towards Chandlodia with a huge bag of goodies slung over her shoulder, Shah was facing a predicament _ no city buses. Shah then turned hopefully towards autorickshaws and was promptly told that going up to Kalupur would cost her Rs 25 instead of the usual fare of Rs 12.

Shah is among thousands of commuters depending on the rickety, old buses of the city who were left stranded on Monday because employees of Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services decided to call a wildcat strike.

The result: all 886 buses (725 to 750 of which are on road) plying on 138 routes, carrying nearly 7 lakh passengers daily and raking in a daily income of 20 lakh, went off the road from 1 pm.

Buses did not return to their daily routes before much politicking and only after the AMTS transport manager, Z.A. Sacha, went on a week's leave from Tuesday.

The issues taken up by the striking AMTS employees were three: that 176 temporary drivers and conductors were asked to discontinue services till called by their employer, food grain allowance due in the month of August was not yet paid and that numerous employees' applications for loan against their Provident Fund (PF) were yet to be honoured.

But, by sun down the issues amalgamated and changed to 'Sacha hatao'. A meeting convened at AMTS' office in Jamalpur the four unions' leaders alleged that the transport manager was autocratic in his dealings and were cause of much problems for them. The municipal commissioner K. Kailashnathan, chairman of AMC's transport committee Surendra Baxi and other senior officials of AMTS were faced with a unique adamance on the unionionists' part.

Kailashanathan later said: "Sacha has volunteered to go on a week's leave. During that period we will deliberate over this matter and try to resolve it amicably."

Sacha, on the other hand, said: "The employees are being misinformed by the union leaders who have an axe to grind against me because I did not comply with their wishes. Payment of food grain allowance was always slated for September 9 and 10. Where I have asked assistance worth Rs 1.4 crore for food grains and 3.82 crore for clearance of various bills and expenditures from the AMC nothing has been forthcoming since February."

Sacha added: "I have taken this leave for the interest of commuters at large. But, if my absence solves this problem then I may go off on an even longer leave (one stretching over four months) from September 15."

This muscle-flexing of the unionists, that had left life partly paralysed in the city, has however got a definite political flavour. According to the municipal transport committee chairman, Baxi, "Dinkar Bhatt who is leading the Ahmedabad municipal servants' association both in the AMTS issue and the safai kamdaar issue is a BJP man. This is a well though-out effort to paint the Congress leadership at AMC in a poor picture and trouble commoners' into an anti-Congress feeling. We have dealt with both the issues with alacrity and our political opponents have failed."

Not entirely though! Ask Upendra Shah of Ranip: "I had some urgent business at Art Gallery in Ranip. I could not reach there due to this political strike. Essential services, even if hit for a few hours, can wreck havoc in commoners' lives and literally translate into heavy losses for small time businessmen."

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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Jamnagar-Jodhpur :: CM lays stone for Umiya water project Tuesday, September 4, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
JAMNAGAR: Chief minister Keshubhai Patel laid foundation stone for the Rs 11 crore Umiya-Sagar water supply scheme at Sidsar village in Jam-Jodhpur taluka on Sunday on the occasion of the 103rd inception day of Umiya Mataji temple at this village, Umiya Mataji is revered by Kadva Patels.

Patel advised farmers to aim at the export market for farm products to face the challenge of World Trade Organisation. The state government would create network of state agro marketing committees, he added.

Talking of Narmada waters, Patel recalled the promise that the government had given to the people of Saurashtra who suffered hardship during scarcity period. Pipe line projects have been given administrative sanction and provision made for them in the budget, too.

Referring to unemployment, he said that the state government would provide part-time jobs to one lakh educated unemployed youths this year.

The state government has approached the Centre to seek economically viable rates for farm produce. He hoped the Central response to be positive.

Water resources minister Nitin Patel released booklet on Umi-Vision 2001 while minister Mulubhai Bera inaugurated Umiya forest and minister Chiman Saparia inaugurated Umiya Bal-Bhavan. MP Gordhanbhai Patel inaugurated computer centre at Umiya Karyalaya.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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CM lays stone for Umiya(Jamnagar-Jodhpur) water project Tuesday, September 4, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
JAMNAGAR: Chief minister Keshubhai Patel laid foundation stone for the Rs 11 crore Umiya-Sagar water supply scheme at Sidsar village in Jam-Jodhpur taluka on Sunday on the occasion of the 103rd inception day of Umiya Mataji temple at this village, Umiya Mataji is revered by Kadva Patels.

Patel advised farmers to aim at the export market for farm products to face the challenge of World Trade Organisation. The state government would create network of state agro marketing committees, he added.

Talking of Narmada waters, Patel recalled the promise that the government had given to the people of Saurashtra who suffered hardship during scarcity period. Pipe line projects have been given administrative sanction and provision made for them in the budget, too.

Referring to unemployment, he said that the state government would provide part-time jobs to one lakh educated unemployed youths this year.

The state government has approached the Centre to seek economically viable rates for farm produce. He hoped the Central response to be positive.

Water resources minister Nitin Patel released booklet on Umi-Vision 2001 while minister Mulubhai Bera inaugurated Umiya forest and minister Chiman Saparia inaugurated Umiya Bal-Bhavan. MP Gordhanbhai Patel inaugurated computer centre at Umiya Karyalaya.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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Fresh bidding helps GSEC save Rs 21 crore Tuesday, September 4, 2001

BY SHAILESH PANDYA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Re-bidding for the 100-MW gas-based power project at Dhuvaran, which helped the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) in getting the letter of intent for this power project, has proved profitable for the city-based Gujarat State Electricity Company (GSEC).

The GSEC has given a letter of intent to BHEL for setting up of a 100-MW gas-based power project at Dhuvaran in Central Gujarat. The project is estimated to cost Rs 311 crore.

This will be GSEC's first gas-based power project in the state. The company, an independent power producer (IPP) promoted by the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB), has already set up two coal-based thermal power units at Wanakbori and Gandhinagar whose total installed capacity is 420 MW. GEB buys power from GSEC to cater to the needs of various categories of consumers in the state.

Before the re-bidding was done, the letter of intent for this project was given to L&T which had to be revoked after its refusal to comply with the terms of contract under which it was mandatory for L&T to supply spare parts for the project, GSEC sources said.

L&T's contention was that supply of spare parts was not a part of terms of the contract, which was not agreeable to GSEC and stuck to its contention. This led GSEC to seek legal opinion and then go for re-bidding. The legal firm had asked GSEC to return the earnest money amount to L&T and go for re-bidding.

The decision on re-inviting bids for the project helped GSEC save about Rs 21 crore, sources said. BHEL had quoted the lowest tender amount of Rs 311 crore for this project and was given a letter of intent.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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