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August 25, 2001 - August 25, 2001

JHANJRI :: Five drown in river at Jhanjri Saturday, August 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Five youths drowned in river Vatrak at Jhanjri village in Sabarkantha district on Friday, according to state police control. Four bodies have been recovered so far.

The victims have been identified as Piyushkumar Solanki, Chandrakant Makwana, Nitinkumar Makwana, Jayeshkumar Chauhan and Chiragkumar Shastri _ all residents of Saraswati Society in Mehsana.

The youths had gone to the village to visit a temple. Later, they took a dip in the river but were drowned.

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

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No FYBCom classes for second day Saturday, August 25, 2001

VADODARA: The disruption of classes of the first year commerce students continued here on Friday on the second day with most students opting to stay away after witnessing the demonstration on Thursday.

The MSU pro vice-chancellor said though they tried to keep classes on, not many students came and the attendance of students was thin. Despite the announcement that classes would be held, not many students attended classes.

"There are just too many of them blocking the way; if this 'strike continues' we would not be able to go inside," said a student, who left after seeing the protesters.

Many student leaders, including MSU students' union vice-president Parth Joshi, claimed that "the students have extended their solidarity to our cause, and they have voluntarily stayed away."

In the girls' college, some classes were conducted. However, after a while, student leaders intervened and most of the girls were asked to leave, bringing classes to an abrupt halt.

Members of the All India Students Organisation said their agitation would continue till the payment seats scheme was scrapped completely.

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

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BSNL, COAI row hits cell phone services Saturday, August 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: An ongoing dispute between the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited has resulted in marked deterioration in cellular phone services in Gujarat in recent weeks. With the number of mobile phone connections reaching nearly 3.15 lakh in the state, consumers are facing a lot of problem of connectivity between land lines and cellular phones, mainly due to the BSNL's capping of the number of traffic lines for mobile operators.

Thankfully, the dispute is now headed for an out-of-court settlement with both parties realising that the loss of revenue, besides drop in quality of services, is taking its toll. The operators have decided to withdraw the case filed by them against the BSNL. Sources said both Celforce and AT&T have been operating with approximately 140 BSNL switches, while their demand for another 180 switches has been denied because of the ongoing dispute.

The operators had a few weeks ago moved the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Apellate Tribunal (TDSAT) when the BSNL put the condition before them to follow "traffic discipline". BSNL warned that unless the cellular operators fall in line, no new point of interconnectivity (POI) will be provided. The POI helps communication between the land lines and cell phones, and in the wake of the plea filed, the TDSAT had stayed issuance of any fresh POIs.

In Gujarat, with the increase in number of cellular phones and new connections being provided to customers everyday, the number of POIs available with the cellular operators were inadequate for smooth communication between the land lines and cellular phones.

According to senior officials of the Gujarat telecom circle, the cellular operators were not following "traffic discipline" to avoid extra expenses and were routing calls by channels which were choking the land communication network of the BSNL at various places.

According to a senior official, the BSNL requested operators to route calls, which were meant for destinations outside Gujarat, only through the Ahmedabad trunk-automatic exchange (TAX) or three other specific TAXs. This exchange is the level 1 TAX , capable of taking heavy load. "This is in fact the route prescribed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also" said a BSNL official.

But to avoid payment of extra revenue to the BSNL, the cellular operator started using the nearest TAX to route their outstation calls, some of which were not capable of handling heavy load. As a result, the local telecom networks got choked, said the official.

When BSNL opposed the practice, and delayed providing of new POIs to the cellular operators to cope up with the increasing connections , the latter moved the TDSAT. The TDSAT on hearing the case put an immediate stay on issuing of new POIs. With this customers began to face problems.

As the problems kept on compounding the cellular operators decided to withdraw the case and they moved an application before the TDSAT last week seeking withdrawal of their complaint. "We realised that the case was causing revenue loss and inconvenience to both parties," said Sanjeev Ghanate, vice-president Fascel.

Chief general manager Gujarat Telecom PK Chanda said: "We have not yet received the directive on the stay vacation, but we definitely have received applications for about 180 new lines from both the cellular operators of the state."

He added that as of now the cellular operators have committed to agree to the discipline. "Once they do that , we will provide them new lines as per the requirement," the official said.

No AT&T official was available for comment on the issue.

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

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De-addiction drive catches on Saturday, August 25, 2001

RAJKOT: Saurashtra shows he 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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Mason training scheme finds many takers Saturday, August 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The mason training programme, initiated by the Ambuja Cement Foundation _ a wholly-owned trust of the Gujarat Ambuja Cement (GAC) _ and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), as a women-empowerment scheme two years back, is today being pursued by GAC as a skill building and upgradation programme in Kutch. Under the programme, more than 500 masons have been trained till now.

The company's training programme has gained much significance after the quake. With an estimated need for around 10,000 skilled construction workers in Kutch once the rehabilitation work starts in real earnest after the monsoon, the GAC has now joined hands with CARE India for carrying out the programme.

According to GAC director (technical) J P Desai, the company has already organised programmes for around 12 training batches of 40 masons each in Kutch and trained 500 masons, of which 130 are women.

The company has spent around Rs 4 crore on the programme till now. According to Desai, the cost of training a mason is around Rs 12,000, which covers a stipend of Rs 40 per day along with a toolkit and other expenditure. The total cost per training camp comes to around Rs 79,100 for the company.
After acquiring the necessary skills, trained masons have already built around 108 quake-resistant houses in the Kutch region, also helping them to earn daily wages of around Rs 250 to Rs 300.

"Looking at the kind of training facilities, many other NGOs, apart from CARE India, have also approached us to train masons for them," says Desai.

The various places where the company has organised training camps include Samakhiyali, Kodki, Nathharkui, Bandiya, Naliya and Kamaguna, while the NGOs involved in the programme include Kutch Yuvak Sanh, Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan, Kutch Fodder, Fruits and Forest Development Trust and SEWA.

Incidentally, SEWA is interested in setting up a full-time mason-training school in Gandhinagar and has also committed some land for the project.

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

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