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November 26, 2001 - November 26, 2001

Rs 130-crore seismology institute planned Monday, November 26, 2001

BY ROBIN DAVID, FOR TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Experts may not expect another earthquake in Gujarat of the same magnitude as January 26 very soon, but the state government is taking no chances. It has decided to invest, with help from the Centre, in a Rs 130-crore institute to study seismology in the state and develop applications to better mitigate such disasters.

"There are a number of organisations in the country which have done work on earthquakes, like the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad," says CEO of Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority P K Mishra. "They, however, have a much broader agenda, focusing on the entire spectrum of earth sciences. This institute, however, will focus on earthquakes only, gather and analyse data and provide it to all those who require it."

The department of science and technology (DST), New Delhi, has already constituted an expert committee to work out the details of the project. They met in Gandhinagar last week and are expected to give their first report on December 1.

The committee includes the head of the seismology division of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre S K Arora, advisor on seismology to DST G D Gupta, senior scientist with NGRI D K Rastogi, Kushala Rajendran of the Centre for Earth, director of the Centre for Disaster Mitigation & Management, Chennai, R K Bhandari, the state director for technical education D T Kapadia and higher and technical education secretary Gauri Kumar.

Sources said the entire institute, with its own building and infrastructure, would take about two to three years to be set up. Not wanting to wait for so long, they are in the process of identifying an organisation which has the infrastructure to start the initial work. One such organisation they are looking at is Gujarat Energy Research Institute (GERI), Vadodara, which can take the lead, slowly leading up to the institute, which has been tentatively called the Institute for Seismological Research & Applications.

At the meeting held in Gandhinagar recently, the expert committee worked out the broad functions that the institute may perform. Among them were creating a permanent think tank for the country with the focus on Gujarat which will work out strategies to mitigate and manage earthquakes better, to acquire the best available technology to monitor seismic activity and to create a priority list of issues related to seismology and carry out research for timely solutions to problems that officials on the field face.

Sources in the state government said that although the institute will initially focus only on Gujarat, it will cover the entire country in the long run. As a first step they will create a clearing house for earthquake-related information where all data collected will be fed into a central computer and will be available for further research.

Of the Rs 130-crore budget, to be used over the first five years, the expert committee has set aside Rs 60 crore for building and infrastructure and Rs 35 crore for scientific equipment and operational cost. Rs 10 crore will be spent on the staff, and Rs 20 crore is expected to be spent in the first year.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Police suspect more phone call rackets Monday, November 26, 2001

SOURCE - TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Investigations into the international incoming telephone calls' racket by the city police has raised the suspicion about similar rackets being in operation in other cities of India, especially in the metros.

Latest investigations reveal that Vick and Peterson -- Shailesh Patel's strategic partners from the United States, who had come to city to install the sophisticated communication systems that facilitated the incoming calls from the US bypassing VSNL -- had also visited Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad on 'business purpose'.

Police have gathered evidence which suggest that Vick and Peterson's stay in the said cities might have something to do with similar installation work that caused a royalty loss of Rs 40 crore to VSNL.

"They had stayed in the city in two of its leading hotels. Patel's interrogation so far and further probe in this case has indicated that these two US citizens had been to most of the metropolitan cities in India. We suspect that their stay in these cities must have to do with setting up similar systems of international communication that they had put up in Patel's Nandini Communications office at Avishkar Complex here," economic cell police inspector N K Rathod told Times News Network.

He said, while Patel had struck a deal with Vick and Peterson and their business was in motion for about 16 months, in cities outside Gujarat similar arrangements could have existed for shorter or longer periods and might be still on.

"The network that they had set up at Patel's office was to take care of incoming calls from the US to cities in Gujarat. The equipment used for this was highly sophisticated and all that one needed to operate the international communication channel was a couple of mobile phones. If they found Patel in Vadodara they might as well have found others elsewhere in India," PI Rathod said.

Patel too have confirmed in his statement to the police that his US partners had a thriving business and definitely had links with other people in metropolitan cities of India.

Meanwhile, investigating agencies here have come across six bank accounts of Patel in three different banks where money had been transferred from New Jersey. Patel received money from his US partners every month as per his 2 cents (94 paise) per minute phone call arrangement. Patel's bank accounts show that in the last six months he received Rs 1.18 crore. Break up of the money transfer shows that in May Rs 16 lakh, in June Rs 22 lakh, in July 12 lakh, in August Rs 19 lakh, in September Rs 21 lakh, in October Rs 19 lakh and till November 13 Rs 9 lakh were deposited in Patel's accounts.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Rs 130-crore seismology institute planned Monday, November 26, 2001

BY ROBIN DAVID, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Experts may not expect another earthquake in Gujarat of the same magnitude as January 26 very soon, but the state government is taking no chances. It has decided to invest, with help from the Centre, in a Rs 130-crore institute to study seismology in the state and develop applications to better mitigate such disasters.

"There are a number of organisations in the country which have done work on earthquakes, like the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad," says CEO of Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority P K Mishra. "They, however, have a much broader agenda, focusing on the entire spectrum of earth sciences. This institute, however, will focus on earthquakes only, gather and analyse data and provide it to all those who require it."

The department of science and technology (DST), New Delhi, has already constituted an expert committee to work out the details of the project. They met in Gandhinagar last week and are expected to give their first report on December 1.

The committee includes the head of the seismology division of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre S K Arora, advisor on seismology to DST G D Gupta, senior scientist with NGRI D K Rastogi, Kushala Rajendran of the Centre for Earth, director of the Centre for Disaster Mitigation & Management, Chennai, R K Bhandari, the state director for technical education D T Kapadia and higher and technical education secretary Gauri Kumar.

Sources said the entire institute, with its own building and infrastructure, would take about two to three years to be set up. Not wanting to wait for so long, they are in the process of identifying an organisation which has the infrastructure to start the initial work. One such organisation they are looking at is Gujarat Energy Research Institute (GERI), Vadodara, which can take the lead, slowly leading up to the institute, which has been tentatively called the Institute for Seismological Research & Applications.

At the meeting held in Gandhinagar recently, the expert committee worked out the broad functions that the institute may perform. Among them were creating a permanent think tank for the country with the focus on Gujarat which will work out strategies to mitigate and manage earthquakes better, to acquire the best available technology to monitor seismic activity and to create a priority list of issues related to seismology and carry out research for timely solutions to problems that officials on the field face.

Sources in the state government said that although the institute will initially focus only on Gujarat, it will cover the entire country in the long run. As a first step they will create a clearing house for earthquake-related information where all data collected will be fed into a central computer and will be available for further research.

Of the Rs 130-crore budget, to be used over the first five years, the expert committee has set aside Rs 60 crore for building and infrastructure and Rs 35 crore for scientific equipment and operational cost. Rs 10 crore will be spent on the staff, and Rs 20 crore is expected to be spent in the first year.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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WWF helping state govt in soil, water conservation Monday, November 26, 2001

SOURCE - TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: "Khet ki mitti khet mein; khet ka pani khet mein..." This is Chief Minister Narendra Modi's latest slogan in a bid to create mass awareness about soil and water conservation.

And, as the Gujarat government plans to counter the problem of soil and water conservation by creating mass awareness through its National Land Resources Conservation Week which kicked off on November 21, the state office of the World Wide Fund for Nature-India plans to take the fight beyond the programmes being held during the week to sustain a protracted campaign.

The Gujarat State Land Use Board under the revenue department of the state government began a massive campaign with the slogan 'Our Land, Our Future' to "ensure the prosperity of future generations through conservation, balanced utilisation and development in a sustainable manner of these resources."

With November also coinciding with WWF-India's Conservation Day, the body took up the cause along with the state government to carry this programme beyond the one-week period to ensure ground-level surveys in three areas _ Jaspur in Padra taluka of Vadodara and in Bhuj and Naliya. While work in Jaspur has already begun, WWF officials will be visiting Bhuj and Naliya on Monday and Tuesday.

"We will work along with the Gujarat State Rural Development Corporation to carry out three major functions _ gathering data on various aspects of soil and water conservation, create awareness and involve the communities in conservation work," says director of the Gujarat state office of WWF-India, Smita Pradhan.

"It should be seen as the beginning of a long-term programme. We look forward to the government to carry out the project beyond this week so that the programmes identified can be implemented. It is a good initiative and hope it will be continued," adds Pradhan.

WWF-India officials have already conducted field visits in Jaspur with the help of the taluka development officer, and work on data collection with the help of local communities has begun. The help of locals will be sought to collect information on available land, the type of erosion in the area, soil and water quality, availability of water, amount of wasteland, irrigation facilities and the co-operatives working in the area.

"Community feedback will also be given due importance. In our first visit itself, we came across a number of people telling us about problems like water and soil contamination due to effluents discharged by industries and increasing sainity in water in the wells. We plan to have monthly interaction with the communities," says Pradhan.

WWF plans to draw up an action plan based on these reports. "After problem areas are identified, we can take up the issues with the respective departments. The action taken on these reports will ensure that lifestyles of these communities become self-sustainable. Finally, we plan to hand over the work of conservation to the communities themselves," she adds.

In the second phase, the WWF plans to work in the Aravalli range of north Gujarat and in various pockets in Junagadh and south Gujarat.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Changes in Vadodara Cong unit on cards Monday, November 26, 2001

SOURCE - TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: A major change is expected in the city Congress leadership soon. Party leaders have already started working overtime to seek key positions in the new committee likely to be announced in a month's time.

According to sources in the city Congress unit, the changes would be in line with the party's policy to revive its units at all levels. Insiders said that the most significant of these at the local level will be the change of guard at the post of president.

"The present city unit president, Ashwin Shah, has already held the post for more then two terms. It is likely that a new person will take over from him. The change at the highest post would also imply changes on other posts as the new president will select his own executive," said a senior Congress functionary.

Sources said that according to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) norms, a person cannot hold the post for more than two consecutive terms. This logic is being put forward for the change at the post of the president.

Notably the changes have been on the cards since Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Amarsinh Chaudhary took charge. Chaudhary had made a couple of visits to the city since he joined and held meetings with local workers.

However, the changes may have to wait till an overall list of changes to be made in the state is finalised by the state leadership of the party. "The idea of making the changes at one go is being considered to avoid any complications at the last moment. Lobbying and pushing of weight around is likely to take place if the posts at one place are announced, while others have to wait," a city Congress member said.

Insiders added that major changes would also take place in the Youth Congress. "The changes in the youth wing will be at all levels. The changes will be from top to bottom and state level leaders may be shown the door," a Congress functionary said.

Senior Congress leader and leader of Opposition in Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) Dalsukh Prajapati said the new city Congress leadership was expected within a month. "The process is on and will take about a month. Changes are definitely on the cards," he said.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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