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September 3, 2001 - September 4, 2001

Jet to introduce its third flight to Mumbai from city Tuesday, September 4, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Jet Airways will launch its third daily flight on the Mumbai-Vadodara-Mumbai sector from Thursday.

The airline already operates a morning and an evening flight to Vadodara from the city. A release here stated that the flight will be operated by a Boeing 737 aircraft.

The flight, 9W 349 will depart from Mumbai at 10 am and arrive at Vadodara at 10.50 am The corresponding flight 9W 350 will leave Vadodara at 11.25 am and reach Mumbai at 12.15 pm.

Jet Airways sales manager at Vadodara Deepak Kumar Bedla stated that the flight will provide a convenient connection in afternoon to other destinations. Connections to destinations like Hyderabad, Kolkata, Goa, Bangalore and Chennai will become easier after the new flight.

Earlier this month Alliance Air had also reintroduced its flight to Mumbai from the city. With this the total number of flights on the route has gone up to four.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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61 calves impounded Tuesday, September 4, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The Sola High Court police rescued 61 calves and arrested two persons on charges of trafficking.

The truck (GJ 1UU 9216) carrying the calves was intercepted near the Gujarat High Court and the police arrested two persons _ Ilias Laldeen Sindhi and Mushikhan Abbadin Sindhi _ in this connection.

The calves had been illegally smuggled into the state from Rajasthan and were sent to the panjrapole, police sources said.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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CM asks Centre to revise GAIL pricing Tuesday, September 4, 2001

BY RAJIV SHAH, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government has asked the Centre to bring down the rates charged by the Gas Authority of India for transmitting gas to the state by ten times as the current rate -- Rs 1,100 per thousand cubic metres -- is "unviable".

In a sharp representation at National Development Council meet in New Delhi on Saturday, Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel said that thanks to the "the GAIL's faulty pricing policy, the state is unable to utilise 1,500 to 2,000 MW of power".

The CM raised the issue during his intervention at the NDC meeting, attended by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee.

This is the second time in a month that the CM has asked the Centre to look into the GAIL's pricing policy which, said his economic adviser S.K. Shelat, is leading to huge losses of between Rs 500 and 800 crore to the state exchequer per year.

Shelat, who accompanied the CM and prepared the groundwork for the major demand, said, "As many as four important gas-based power plants stationed in the state remain under-utilised because of this."

The CM represented to Union petroleum minister Ram Nayak on August 13 on the same issue, but "the response was zero", informed a top bureaucrat.

Currently, the state gets gas from GAIL, the sole supplier in the country, at the cost of Rs 2,800 per thousand cubic metres with an additional transmission cost of Rs 1,100.

"It is ridiculous for the GAIL to charge the huge transmission cost when the gas is being sent from Gujarat coastal regions only," Shelat told TNN.

"Gujarat thus is heavily subsidising for the gas being supplied to the northern states. This must stop," Shelat quoted the CM as telling the NDC meeting.

Demanding a national energy policy to solve the crucial problem, the CM said the state has to pay towards transportation cost for coal supplied to its power plants at market rate. "Why should Gujarat pay market rate for one commodity and administered price for another commodity meant for running our power plants?" he asked. "The gas-run power plants in the state, as a result, have been suffering heavily because they have to use the costly naphtha as alternative fuel", he added. The state has to pay Rs 1,000 per tonne of coal as transportation, apart from Rs 800 as its cost.

Giving details, Shelat said, "The Gujarat PowerGen Corporation should get 2.25 million cubic metres of gas to run at full capacity, though it gets only 1.5 million cubic metres, with its 600 MW plant remaining under-utilised. The Gujarat Industrial Power Company's 160 MW plant gets no gas. Essar Power Ltd gets half the requirement of two million cubic metres. And the Government of India's two NTPC plants -- 600 MW each at Gandhar and Kavas -- are funning at half their capacity, running on huge loss because of inadequate supply."

Shelat said, "Wherever feasible, gas has been replaced by naphtha, currently available at the cost of above Rs 12,000 per metric tonne. Per unit cost of the power produced by naphtha comes to a rupee costlier than the power produced by gas. If one fully utilises gas, the state electricity board would gain considerably." On a market rate, the transmission rate of gas "should be about Rs 100, and currently the state is being charged at a 10 times higher rate", added a bureaucrat.

Meanwhile, officials concede, failure of the state to implement the Gas Act passed by the Gujarat Assembly about six months ago is crucially responsible for the Centre's diktat on pricing the state too high for gas.

The Act allows the state to set up an independent gas grid for transmission of all gas on its territory and also a regulatory authority to decide on gas tariff.

"The Centre has told the state to hold on till a Presidential reference is taken on the Act it feels gas transmission is not under state jurisdiction. We are just holding on, that's all", an official said.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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States' vision must be yardstick for Central aid: CM Monday, September 3, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has underlined the need for determining the Central assistance in the key sector of poverty eradication taking into consideration the vision of the states and their achievements.

Participating in the 49th meeting of the Rashtriya Vikas Parishad, chaired by Prime Minister Vajpayee, Keshubhai Patel presented a vivid picture of the novel agenda of the state government in the 10th Five Year Plan.

Patel said different states had implemented result-oriented programmes for the poverty eradication and added that in this context, states like Gujarat should be encouraged. Expressing his dissatisfaction on the recommendations of the Eleventh Finance Commission, he suggested that the Central assistance for poverty eradication should be based on 60 per cent living below the poverty line, 20 per cent based on the state governments' efforts for reducing the poverty, 10 per cent based on the requirements of the states for scarcity-affected and barren region and 10 per cent based on the efforts of the state to improve the human index.

The chief minister gave details about the new visions of the state government in implementing Gokul Gam Yojna, construction of checkdams for water harvesting, infrastructure development, social infrastructure vision 2010 and Gujarat Agro Vision 2010.

Welcoming the stress on agriculture and animal husbandry in the 10th Five Year Plan, Patel said the Gujarat government would achieve the targets by raising irrigation facilities, including the Narmada water and would promote dairy and agro-based industries.

The chief minister said subsidies should be in the interest of the beneficiaries. Citing an example, he said the subsidy on drip irrigation would benefit the farmers and stop wastage of water. Patel stressed on reduction in population growth, development of the social sector, basic infrastructure facilities and balanced urbanisation while preparing the agenda for 10th annual plan.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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New Scam :: Scam detected in drought relief Monday, September 3, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has found a major fodder scam in the drought relief works during 1999-2000.

Pointing out that "undue favour for Rs 19.2 crore" was made "to grass supplier", the CAG in its report said, "One bidder who was liable to be black-listed as per tender conditions for backing out in previous tendering (December 9, 1999, rate Rs 245 per quintal) was subsequently awarded order for supplying 4 crore kg grass and paddy straw ... at higher rate of Rs 480 per quintal by the state government on the basis of fresh tenders invited and finalised in March 2000."

Pointing out that this resulted in undue favour of awarding business for Rs 19.2 crore irregularly, the CAG also noted several other cases were excess payment worth lakhs was made to other suppliers. It says, in one case "the revenue department stated in December 2000 that the bidder who had quoted the lowest price of Rs 253 per quintal neither signed the agreement nor supplied any quantity of fodder. Hence, the second lowest rate quoted for Rs 269 per quintal was operative price and was decided to be accepted." It comments, "The argument is not tenable as the contractors are not entitled to the rates higher than the one agreed during negotiations."

The CAG has also found cases of irregular and excess payment of subsidy in the scarcity-affected areas, payment of cash doles in excess of norms, non-recovery of extra costs for purchasing grass worth Rs 2.38 crore, disproportionate administrative expenditure, unauthorised payment of subsidy, delay in payment of relief assistance (in Bhuj to the tune of Rs 30.72 lakh), unauthorised diversion of receipts and so on. The CAG observes "substantial deficiency" in the drought relief expenditure consisting of employment generation, payment of cash doles, supply of drinking water, purchase of grass and subsidy to cattle camps.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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