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Source - NDTV.COM

August 29, 2001 - August 30, 2001

Govt to reduce proposed one-time vehicle tax Thursday, August 30, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: The state Assembly has decided to reduce the proposed one-time tax on different categories of motor vehicles used as carriage for goods and materials.

In his budget speech, state finance minister Vajubhai Vala had said on July 26 that one-time tax would be introduced for all categories of such vehicles instead of the present half-yearly or one yearly charges which was a source of corruption. His proposals between Rs 9,000 and Rs 25,000 were found to be "too high" by MLAs participating in debate.

While amending the existing Bombay Motor Vehcles Tax Act, 1958, the new rates applicable for three- and four-wheel vehicles with weight up to 750 kg would be Rs 4,400 for those running on petrol and Rs 6,600 for those running on diesel, instead of the proposed Rs 9,000 by Vala.

The vehicles with the weight between Rs 750 kg and 1,500 kg would invite Rs 7,400 for petrol-run vehicles and Rs 11,200 for diesel-run vehicles, instead of the proposed Rs 15,000.

And the vehicles between 1,500 kg and 3,000 kg would invite a tax of Rs 12,800 and Rs 19,200, instead of Rs 25,000 proposed. Announcing this, state transport minister Bimal Shah said he was taking into consideration the criticism by different MLAs on the floor of the house on Tuesday which said that the one-time tax would add to the burden of the vehicle owners who otherwise too take their vehicles on loan.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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Survey suggestions to overcome traffic problems Thursday, August 30, 2001

BY SOURAV MUKHERJEE, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Of every 100 Amdavadis only 15 to 18 go for the existing public transport system, namely, rickety, old buses of Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services. The rest rely on their personal two- and four-wheelers, far too many if you consider the ideal percentage of 55-60 per cent who should be using public transport mode in any city.

On peak hours on any weekday, two-wheelers contribute to 49.8 per cent of the traffic on Ashram Road, 56.1 per cent on Gandhi bridge and 67.73 per cent on Nehru bridge.

Amidst the growing chaos on city roads , there is however a silver lining. The first part of a Rs 5.5 crore survey for the proposed Integrated Public Transit System (IPTS), is now complete with a few innovative suggestions too.

While calling for a stupendous capital investment worth Rs 3,000-crore, the surveyors -- Louis Berger of USA, Lahmeyer International of Germany, Mass Rapid Transport System of Hong Kong, Dalal Consultants of Ahmedabad, Balaji Railroad Corporation Limited and ICICI Limited -- say the solution lies in creation of bus terminuses on the outskirts of city for the 6,000 Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) buses that ply through Ahmedabad every day.

Five potential interception terminals for GSRTC buses have been identified and a re-routing plan has also been prepared for internal distribution. The question now being considered is whether privatisation of existing city bus service or introducing a light rail transit system or a combination of various modes of transport like mini buses, buses, mass rapid transit system is the best for travelling within Ahmedabad limits.

IPTS' study on urban transportation in Ahmedabad states: "6,000 GSRTC buses traverse through the city roads everyday with Gita Mandir in Astodia as the terminal point. Traffic on Nehru bridge consists of 68 per cent two-wheelers, if these buses are stopped at outskirts of Ahmedabad complete with a transport link to carry the passengers into the city and the two-wheel owners are given an efficient mode of public transport there would be reduction in traffic population as well as pollution."

The study, one of the largest on urban transportation in the country, covers four districts and seven talukas. Prime among which are jurisdictions of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority and areas like Bopal, Ghuma, Changodar, Sanand, Chhatral, Bareja, the corridor between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.

Aiming to prepare an efficient, economical and integrated public transport by dividing the entire study area into 417 Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZs). Unlike preconceived notions, heavily dependent on light rail transit or mass rapid transit systems this study aims to give appropriate solution for each transport corridor by identifying and prioritising public demand.

Another striking feature of this study is its unique Urban Transport Planning Model. This computer-based simulation model can calculate numerous permutations and combinations using 3,000 km of road length represented as 3,798 links, 2,500 road junctions, 250 km of rail link and 143 AMTS bus routes. It is quite flexible and can generate traffic patterns in any given condition like consequences of change in land use pattern, relocation of markets or effect of building a flyover on any junctions.

Chief executive officer of the Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board (GIDB), Ravi Saxena, says: "In its first phase the study has spoken about the problems of existing mode of transport couple the growing traffic menace. The survey also contains supportive facts like high rate of bus trips -- 10,000 every hour -- on 18 bus corridors existing in Ahmedabad."

Saxena adds: "A month from now surveyors would supply us with three to four viable in-city transit projects. These would then be put through a feasibility test for zeroing in on a suitable intra-city travel and a way to relieve excessive traffic pressure from city thoroughfares. Be it privatisation of existing city bus services or creation of a light rail transit system, the projects have to be pre-tested before opening them for a public-private partnership."

Sugestions:
• Privatisation of AMTS
• Interception of GSRTC buses outside city limits
• Railways or private bus services
• Change in Mass Transit Act
• Inter-active Urban Transport Planning Model
Source - Timesofindia.com

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Clean city drive by AMC shortly Wednesday, August 29, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: AMC authorities are readying to rid the city of the dirty puddles and stinking heaps of uncleared garbage.

In that endeavour one may well find the mayor, commissioner and the who's-who of the municipal corporation taking up a broom and kicking off a post-monsoon clean-up.

A declaration to this effect was made by Mayor Himmatsinh Patel at the monthly general board meeting on Tuesday. The announcement came as a rejoinder from Patel to an accusation of inactive pre-monsoon action plan leading to garbage heaps and diseases like cerebral malaria made by BJP corporator Anil Patel. The Congress is looking to clean up the city before Gandhi Jayanti on October 2.

Unlike previous years when the clean-up drive began from October 2, the Congress has decided to pre-empt this move, which many feel may have been mooted with an eye on forthcoming Sabarmati bye elections.

Sources at the AMC said that the drive is slated to begin from September 1under express supervision of the mayor, commissioner, deputy mayor, standing committee chairman, chairmen of health and solid waste committees and deputy municipal commissioners.

"We will be part of the clean-up drive for two hours every day. Final meet to decide on the starting point of this move, that will cover all the 43 wards in five municipal zones, will be convened on August 30," said a senior Congress leader.

On Monday the top brass of political and administrative wings of the civic body met at the West Zone office in Usmanpura where sources said that the Congmen had pressed for an early start to this month-long clean-up drive.

The drive will also mark imposition of stern fines on litterbugs. "The penalty will be administrative charges for the removal of garbage. It will be levied on shops or residents of housing societies who are found littering," said a Congman while asserting Surat rakes in Rs 2 crore annually as administrative charge imposed on litterbugs, Mumbai earns Rs 20 crore as penalty administrative charges while Ahmedabad collection is only Rs 10 lakh.

Help of NGOs to collect garbage from posh commercial localities like Ashram Road, C.G. Road and in Maninagar will also be a feature of the drive as also the expedition of setting up of a mobile court enabling levy of penalty on litterbugs.

Even smaller problems like leaking gutters and broken pavements will be sorted out with alacrity. During the clean-Ahmedabad move AMC looks to optimise usage of all garbage-collection vehicles thereby boosting refuse collection from the existing 1,200 tonnes per day.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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JAMNAGAR :: Residents face physical discomfort Wednesday, August 29, 2001



By Farahanaaz Dastur, Ndtv.com

JAMNAGAR, Tuesday, August 28, 2001:

Jamnagar district in Gujarat continues to be in the grip of panic as people are now complaining of physical discomfort due to a foul smelling gas.

First reports of the foul smelling gas came two weeks back and complaints continued to pour in till late Sunday evening.

Residents have complained of burning eyes and vomiting due to the foul smelling gas. There is a sense of panic among the residents who feel this could be another Bhopal waiting to happen. "We could also get the same health problems that the people of Bhopal have today," remarked a visibly upset resident Chirag Pandya.

Issuing similar sentiments, another resident Rekha Bhansali said, "We are scared to go out, because incase we become sick by inhaling the gas, then we will be the ones to suffer. We are more or less housebound."

While officials from the Pollution Control Board are in Jamnagar to study the gas leak. They have been so far unable to pinpoint the source of the gas.

The smell is that of Merchopton...it is not toxic or hazardous to health though it could create some physical discomfort.
- Rohit Pathak
District Collector


Reliance Petrochemicals, a GAIL pipeline and a government owned fertilizer plant are all situated in Jamnagar and the pollution board scientists say that the source of the gas could be any of them.

According to the Jamnagar District Collector, Rohit Pathak, "The smell is that of Merchopton which is deliberately added to the LPG because of its peculiar smell. It is not toxic or hazardous to health though it could create some physical discomfort."

But Reliance Industries has issued a statement today saying, "Reliance has thoroughly examined all its facilities and confirmed that its Jamnagar complex is operating normally and in no way is the source of the alleged foul smell experienced in Jamnagar city several days ago."

The company also said that it was working closely with the authorities to identify probable causes of the odour.

But that's a small consolation for the people in Jamnagar who are now planning to hold demonstrations to protest against the government's failure to pinpoint the source of the leak.

Related Report:

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Jamnagar residents face physical discomfort Wednesday, August 29, 2001



By Farahanaaz Dastur, Ndtv.com

JAMNAGAR, Tuesday, August 28, 2001:

Jamnagar district in Gujarat continues to be in the grip of panic as people are now complaining of physical discomfort due to a foul smelling gas.

First reports of the foul smelling gas came two weeks back and complaints continued to pour in till late Sunday evening.

Residents have complained of burning eyes and vomiting due to the foul smelling gas. There is a sense of panic among the residents who feel this could be another Bhopal waiting to happen. "We could also get the same health problems that the people of Bhopal have today," remarked a visibly upset resident Chirag Pandya.

Issuing similar sentiments, another resident Rekha Bhansali said, "We are scared to go out, because incase we become sick by inhaling the gas, then we will be the ones to suffer. We are more or less housebound."

While officials from the Pollution Control Board are in Jamnagar to study the gas leak. They have been so far unable to pinpoint the source of the gas.

The smell is that of Merchopton...it is not toxic or hazardous to health though it could create some physical discomfort.
- Rohit Pathak
District Collector


Reliance Petrochemicals, a GAIL pipeline and a government owned fertilizer plant are all situated in Jamnagar and the pollution board scientists say that the source of the gas could be any of them.

According to the Jamnagar District Collector, Rohit Pathak, "The smell is that of Merchopton which is deliberately added to the LPG because of its peculiar smell. It is not toxic or hazardous to health though it could create some physical discomfort."

But Reliance Industries has issued a statement today saying, "Reliance has thoroughly examined all its facilities and confirmed that its Jamnagar complex is operating normally and in no way is the source of the alleged foul smell experienced in Jamnagar city several days ago."

The company also said that it was working closely with the authorities to identify probable causes of the odour.

But that's a small consolation for the people in Jamnagar who are now planning to hold demonstrations to protest against the government's failure to pinpoint the source of the leak.

Related Report:

Panic grips Jamnagar as mysterious gas envelops city
Source - NDTV.COM

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