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August 26, 2001 - August 26, 2001

Businessmen moving out of Ahmedabad to evade octroi Sunday, August 26, 2001

BY SOURAV MUKHERJEE, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Eight wholesalers, dealing in expensive cosmetic goods, with establishments at Pankore Naka in Kalupur area, have shifted out of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation limits during the past couple of months.

A dozen small-scale units based at Odhav too have taken a giant step, during the same period, to get outside Ahmedabad. These units have set shop in Chandkheda and are amongst 28 prosperous industries that deal in iron products. Add to this the recent 'move' made by Cadila Pharmaceutical Limited to shift base from Maninagar to Dholka and you might start wondering as to what is causing this flight of industries from Ahmedabad, especially since May. Its a one-word answer -- octroi.

Ever since the state government's decision to abolish octroi duty from the nagar palikas and municipalities came into effect, industries in AMC jurisdiction are keen to get out of bounds. Take for instance the recent representation made by owners of 25 cloth-processing units situated in Pipluj village near the road connecting Vatva and Sarkhej. Owners of the processing units approached Octroi Committee chairman Kishansinh Tomar, asking for exclusion of Pipla from the octroi arena.

The cloth processors' problem is that just across the Sarkhej-Vatva road, 12 similar units function but are beyond AMC's octroi network. Thus, they are able to sell the same products at a price that's 3 per cent lower than the price of those paying octroi.

Even industrialists at GIDC have voiced their concerns about rising octroi inside AMC limits.

GIDC chairman, along with other industrialists, recently held a meeting a meeting with Tomar and the chairman of AMC's tax committee Vinod Modi.

Sources disclosed that the industrialists are concerned over shooting octroi duty rates and property taxes. They have even threatened to move base to areas with municipality and nagar palikas as the civic body. In short, shift to areas without hassles of octroi and property taxes.

"When the market is sluggish an additional burden like octroi is least wanted," quips president of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Kalyan Shah.

Shah adds: "We have had dialogues with the mayor, the chairman of octroi committee and the municipal commissioner informing them of a definite move of large and medium traders to shift outside the octroi net. Dry fruits, automobile spare parts and tyre-tubes are remarkably cheaper in AUDA areas." Now there are also talks of setting up a large automobile market in the AUDA area.

GCCI has called for fine tuning octroi rates to bridge the disparity between prices in AMC area and those at shops in AUDA.

While this has somewhat rattled the corporation authorities, self-introspection has also begun on whether to implement the proposed octroi rate hike. The AMC is awaiting the state government's nod on hike in octroi that would take the annual collection of the corporation to Rs 345 crore.

Sources in AMC's however disclosed that in order to placate the disturbed industrialists, the octroi committee is now considering ways to lower octroi duty on raw materials taken into the industrial units, especially chemical industries, and on the finished products transported out of the city.

But, that's not the only concern faced by the AMC's octroi department. August having more than its share of public holidays, collection slipped to minus 4.29 per cent on August 20.

As compared to Rs 1,791.50 lakh of August 20, 2000, the collection on the same date this year is Rs 1,545.55 lakh. This negative trend that is visible from the start of 2001 improved some what with the percentage decrease of octroi income coming down to (-) 2.66 in July but festivities in August has brought bad luck for the corporation.

Municipal commissioner K Kailashnathan is, however, unconcerned about the developments.

He says: "Octroi collection has dipped because of economic recession and general market slowdown. But, we are not
worried because our new property tax formula will ensure more collection. By the time the economy makes a turn around and boost octroi collections, the corporation will be cash rich through property tax collections."

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


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Ambiguity in AMC's stray-cattle drive Sunday, August 26, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The 'clear city roads of stray cattle' drive taken up by the administrative wing of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation continued undeterred for the fourth consecutive day amidst declarations of "no more police complaints on cattle-owners of the city", being made by the civic body's political bosses.

For once the elaborate formalities (read red tape) may have come to the rescue of cow-harassed commoners on the city streets. Owing to the "informal nature" of directive given to the administrative wing, the municipal commissioner has declared that the drive will go on unabated.

The administrators of corporation filed 11 police complaints and herded over 100 stray cattle on Friday against negligent cattle owners, ignoring the joint statement of Mayor Himmatsinh Patel and chairman of Standing Committee Badruddin Sheikh to the contrary. The statement was allegedly preceded by a proposal to the effect at Friday's Standing Committee meeting.

Along with the usual penalty amount of Rs 250 for every stray-catch the AMC officials have filed 65 police complaints against "rogue" cattle owners till date.

An official statement issued by Sheikh said: "Appeals made by cattlemen of the city was taken up at the Standing Committee meet on Friday. We asked the commissioner not to file police complaints against the cattle owners without slackening the drive to clear city roads of stray cattle."

While the Congress leadership in AMC was busy tomtomming their successful balancing act between cattle owner and keeping masses' interest intact the commissioner of AMC, K Kailashnathan, told TNN: "The drive will continue unabated, without any changes. The Standing Committee has not tabled or passed any formal proposal in this regard and so the corporation will continue to give priority to masses' grievances."

Kailashnathan was referring to the numerous road accidents and frequent traffic disruptions that plague Ahmedabad due to stray cows. Since August 20 the administrative wing of AMC, then with the support of Congress men, has begun a crack down on cattle owners who allowed their cows to go astray.

But, soon as the matter had turned political with the Samajwadi Party and BJP blaming the Congress for harassing "poor" cattle owners the political bosses of AMC developed cold feet and did a volte-face.

On Thursday, after meeting with members of the Gopalak Samaj, the mayor had declared there would be no more police complaints associated with the corporation's cow-catching spree.

Officials of AMC disclosed: "Since there has been no formal request from Congress the drive will continue unchanged. All our moves, through the years, to levy cash fine on the cattlemen have come to a naught. With the police complaints acting as the proverbial Damocles' sword we have been able to achieve a lot in just four days of the drive. One hopes to address grievances of Amdavadis who have flooded corporation offices with their complaints on stray cattle."

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


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Saurashtra shows the way to combat 'ghutka' menace Sunday, August 26, 2001

BY NARANDAS THACKER, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: Saurashtra shows the way to counter the deadly cancer.

Thanks to the saintly touch the de-addiction movement, known as 'vyasan mukti zumbesh' has gathered momentum in various parts of Saurashtra.

For the first time, a concerted drive has taken off to usher in an era of social transformation in the right direction. The de-addiction movement has caught the imagination of the people with the sustained efforts of saints, effective campaigning by press and other organisations.

The decision of the state government to ban the sale of 'ghutka' within the radius of 100 metres schools has also contributed in curbing 'ghutka' menace.

According to the latest estimates given out by 'ghutka' dealers, the sale of this dreaded but most-sought-after product, has declined by 25 per cent overall and even up to 40 per cent in some areas of Saurashtra in the past four years or so.

Saurashtra region, comprising seven districts consumes 'ghutka' worth Rs.10 crore every month, of which 10 percent or Rs.1 crore is accounted for by Rajkot, the region's nerve-centre, estimates say.

The story of declining consumption of 'ghutka' is more or less the same in other towns like Dhari, Bagasara, Kunakavav in Amreli district, parts of Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Jamanagar and Porbandar districts, too.

Saints and social workers contend that if the official ban imposed on the sale of 'ghutka' around schools is implemented strictly, the 'ghutka' sales would touch rock bottom, in the days to come. Most of the shops do comply, but many more continue the sales around schools in a clandestine manner.

The de-addiction movement launched some three decades back in a modest way by the late Swami Dharma Jeevan Dasji, founder of Swami Narayan Gurukul of Rajkot, a religion-oriented secondary school, has taken deep roots in the villages and mofussil towns in Saurashtra and also in some foreign countries as well.

The Gurukul has branches in Ahmedabad, Chharodi, Surat, Junagadh, Hyderabad etc.

After the founder's death, two saints Swami Devkrishna and Swami Madhav Priyadasji, have continued the drive.

The sustained campaign by the Gurukul saints has yielded good dividends. More than 2,000 villages in Saurashtra have been covered under this campaign. During the bi-centenary year of Sahjanand Swami, the founder of the Swami Narayan sect, 200 villages were covered.

During the Gurukul Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1998, thousands took pledge not to consume 'ghutka'or any other tobacco product and to abstain from liquor. Some 50 villages were covered under the drive during the Golden Jubilee.

And the drive goes on .... on a day-to-day basis. It is a major plank of the Gurukul's education-oriented activities.

The founder Swami Dharma Jeevan Dasji, was a visionary. He not only drafted the programmes or made beginnings but also ensured the implementation with meticulous planning and vigilant monitoring.

Kanu Bhagat retired principal and a close associate of the late swami said, "They would not take the pledges taken by the people to give up 'ghutka' lying down. The volunteers, connected with this drive, note down the names and addresses of those who voluntarily come forward to join 'vyasan mukti'. The saints and volunteers would constantly monitor the progress, write letters to these people to elicit information and get a feed-back.

The results are indeed gratifying, Bhagat says and adds they had full faith in such people. He hopes many more will follow suit in the days to come.

Many people in the US, UK and Latin America have also given up tobacco- consumption, smoking and drinking.

An important aspect of the de-addiction drive is that the saints adopt persuasive methods, positive approach to make life more meaningful, by shunning 'ghutka' consumption.

Another prominent saint, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, head of the Aksha Purushottam Bochasanwasi Sanstha, has also launched a similar de-addiction campaign, during the last few years.

It was at his behest and inspiration that a number of institutions came forward to help the cause and make it a mass movement. His speeches, though brief, make an electrifying impact on the listeners.

The medical fraternity is also lending a helping hand. Medical practitioners of all systems of medicine have joined hands to create awareness against 'ghutka' consumption.

Kantibhai Vaidya, a senior leader of the Rajkot Vaidya Sabha and a senior BJP leader had said, "At present, there is only one cancer hospital in Saurashtra at Rajkot. But, if the present trend of 'ghutka' consumption continued, a time may come when there will be dire need to have cancer hospitals in each and every town of the region.

He says apart from threat of cancer, tobacco and ghutka' consumption gradually erode fertility of men.

The estimates by the social workers, medical practitioners, saints and others, who are involved in the de-addiction movement say that over 25 per cent of the people of Saurashtra, which has a population of one crore are afflicted with the menace, one way or the other.

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


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Four con men nabbed in Mehsana Sunday, August 26, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The Mehsana district police have nabbed four persons for 'floating' a fake bank and cheating people of lakhs of rupees by way of donations.

According to a press release the accused -- Balwantsinh Jagatsinh Jhala, Balwantsinh Gumansinh Jhala, Dineshbhai Chaturbhai Rawal and Mohansinh Rangatsinh Jhala -- had set up a bank, promised jobs to SC/ST and OBCs and then collected money from them on the basis of fake documents.

The bank was called 'Parishram Co-operative Limited Bank" at Viramgam in Ahmedabad district. The cheats made false stamps, documents and collected money ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 25,000 from clients. All the accused are residents of Bontai village in Viramgam.

Investigations were carried out under the supervision of superintendent of police AK Sharma and cases were booked against the accused under sections 406, 407, 408, 464, 465 and 467 of the IPC. The case is being investigated by inspector MM Shah from the Local Crime Branch. The exact amount defrauded is yet to be determined. The police have asked the people associated with the bogus bank to get in touch with them.
Five boys drown: Five boys who had gone picnicking to the Jhanjhri falls in Bayad taluka of Sabarkantha, drowned on Friday noon as they stepped into the river to have a bath.

The boys are residents of Saraswati Society in Mehsana and have been identified as Piyushkumar Ishwarlal Solanki, Chandranat Vitthal Makwana, Nitinkumar Natwarlal Makwana, Jayeshkumar Natwarlal Chauhan and Kirankumar Dhirubhai Shastri.

In-laws attempt murder: In yet another case, a woman and her daughters tried to set her daughter-in-law on fire for not returning their money.

According to the complaint lodged at the Vatva police, Sultanabano Aslamkhhan Pathan stated that her husband had borrowed Rs 1,000 from his sister, Shabanabano.

Shabana came to Sultanabano's house in Alifnagar Society, with her sister Shabnam and demanded the money back. Sultana said her husband would return it, which irritated the girls and they beat her up. The mother-in-law, Salmabibi, was also present there. They doused Sultana in kerosene and set her ablaze on Thursday evening.

She was rushed to LG Hospital. Cases have been booked against the three women.

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


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For this inmate, the cell is his college Sunday, August 26, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The cell is his college. When everyone around him goes off to sleep, Vinodkumar Baria, drowns himself in books.

For the past ten years, he has been studying. He began with clearing HSC exam, went on to complete his bachelor's degree in sociology from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and followed it up with nearly half a dozen certificate courses.

Serving a life sentence at Vadodara Central Jail for killing his wife, Baria is now planning to undertake research on skin diseases in prison. Besides earning a research to his credit, the idea is to help other prisoners who are suffering from the same.

Baria, in jail since December 31, 1991, has certificates in food and nutrition, child care and nutrition, tourism studies and tourism marketing under his belt.

According to Baria, the next qualification he would like to obtain is in computer software. He has already made efforts to gain admission to the course, and hopes to complete it from an open university.

The jail authorities are leaving no stone unturned to facilitate his studies. Said Vadodara Central Prison superintendent NK Jhala, "Since he was interested in studies we did not burden him with other work. We employed him in the library so that he could study in peace."

Baria works in the library of the jail along with the in-charge. He is also involved in various education and literacy studies in the jail.

After clearing his standard 12 examination, Baria was transferred to Ahmedabad so that he could complete his course at the IGNOU centre. He came back to Vadodara Central Prison a couple of years ago after completing his graduation.

Commenting on his research topic, Jhala said, "He is working on a problem facing many inmates. The findings will be of use. People working at the jail hospital are providing him with data," he said.

According to sources, the problem of skin diseases was a major issue that needed to be tackled by jail authorities. Several prisoners suffered from such diseases due to a lack of personal hygiene.

According to Jhala, achievements by prisoners like Baria have created a positive environment for education in the jail.

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


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