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August 19, 2001 - August 19, 2001

Impact fee notification fails to make impact in State Sunday, August 19, 2001

From the meager number of impact fee forms that have been distributed, it is quite clear that people in the State have adopted a ‘wait and watch’ approach. Expecting more announcements and perhaps, even relaxations in the impact fee notification, they are still not ready to pay impact fee.

As far as implementation of impact fee notification goes, even municipal corporations of the State have adopted a similar approach. This has occurred due to the simple reason that there are still many grey areas where Government intervention will be required.

Deciding to regularize all illegal constructions in a sweep, the State Govern- merit first introduced the notification on November, 22 However, there was considerable opposition from within and without the Government. Then, the earthquake derailed the procedure. Again, a notification with a few changes was issued in April.

Barring Surat, where the impact fee procedure has been a bit encouraging, people have been unenthusiastic about this notification that allows regularization of illegal structures. In Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), 2,166 impact fee forms have been distributed till Monday, but only 202 have been returned. This means that of the total 9,200 illegal constructions that have been identified, owners or occupants of just 202 buildings are willing to regularize illegal constructions.

"Even though there are still a number of grey areas in the notification itself, the number is satisfactory," an AMC official told the fact that distribution of forms began in May, less than five per cent forms have been returned. AMC expects to earn around Rs 10 crore through this method.

Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) had issued notices to around 800 buildings prior to the quake. VMC’s Town Planning Officer C Patel said, "As per the earlier directive, the city was divided into five zones, a survey was conducted and the fee structure for regularisation of buildings was devised. Then, notices were issued to builders." For instance, irregular buildings in Walled City areas would be charged less and buildings in upmarket areas like Alkapun would be caharged more.

Senior VMC officials said that after these notices were issued, the Corporation received applications from around 330 builders who were ready to pay the fee. But, since an amended notification was issued prior to the earthquake, not much headway had been made, on this front. "So far Rajkot Municipal Corporation. (RMC) has received the upper and lower limits of impact fee based on which it fixed the rates after dividing the city into zones," said Chief Town Planner B H Rupani.

RMC had issued about 500 forms which were designed as per the guidelines prescribed before January 26. Response for the earlier ordinance was less. Against an estimated 20,000 buildings, RMC received nearly 300 applications only," said Rupani. The response to impact fees has been encouraging in Surat. This will yield a minimum of Rs 15-20 crone to Surat Municipal Corporation’s exchequer. Out of the 1500 applications, 400 are from these commercial complexes and high-rise buildings.

However, Surat’s Deputy Municipal Commissioner (General) Ashwin Mehta saysThere has been excellent response from Athwa area, Central Zone and Rander areas but we did not get the expected response from Varachha, Katargam and Udhna which has the largest number of illegal constructions."

An SMC official reasons,"The impact fee is high while the price of land is much cheaper than the fee. Therefore, the low response." SMC is expecting around 3,000 applications for the process.

News Source :
Indian Express

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Police to be gender-sensitised Sunday, August 19, 2001

VADODARA: After years of being treated 'rudely' and seen with 'suspicion', woman complainants can finally expect better treatment when they walk into a police station to register their complaints.

With state police deciding to make policemen more sensitive towards women and their complaints, the police station officer -- normally known for dealing brusquely with women complainants -- is likely to behave more politely.

"Sensitisation towards women and their grievances will now be a part of the training curriculum of the police," additional director general of police (training) SS Khandwavala told TNN. He said policemen, from constable rank to officers, would be exposed to seminars and workshops dealing with women's issues.

Besides the three police training schools in Gujarat, police in all districts in the state will have at least two seminars or workshop on women issue as part of their refresher programme. Officers of the rank of deputy superintendents of police will also be exposed to such programmes. Khandwavala said the last 2 months of police training would be dedicated to gender-sensitisation study and orientation.

Last week, the first phase of gender-sensitisation workshops kicked off at Police Training School (PTS) at Vadodara. Noted women's rights activists and secretary of Ahmedabad Women's Action Group (AWAG) Ila Pathak conducted the workshop at PTS here.

"The need of sensitisation was long felt. We had learnt about incidents when policeman instead of taking complaint of a woman was bombarding her with unnecessary pieces advice. At times even accusing her of breaking someone's house," Khandwavala says.

He observed that there were cases when women workers from NGOs had walked into his office with complaints of rude behaviour of policemen. "Such women were looked at with distrust. It is this attitude that we want to change. This entire exercise is aimed at attitudinal change", Khandwavala said.

He said that the police was looking at NGOs working for women's rights in different regions of Gujarat. "Besides AWAG we want to rope in a few more women NGOs. For instance when we conduct workshop for policemen in Anand or Junagadh we would prefer to involve an NGO who is working for women's rights in these districts," Khandwavala said.

He added that the content of the seminars/workshops include an insight of problems (like domestic violence) faced by women and situations wherein they are compelled to lodge a criminal complaint.

Pathak, who was in city last week to conduct the workshop at PTS, said the police have a tendency of not hearing complaint of women. "The police need to listen to each woman that knocks at the police station and register her complaint. If the complainant is accompanied by an NGO representative, the police officer could get more information from her and on hearing of her long history of domestic violence, could register the complaint under section 498-A (IPC)", Pathak said.

Coming down heavily on the tendency of police to 'counsel the complainant women', she said the police's job is to register an offence when a complaint is made. "It is necessary for the police to accept the woman as a human being who does not have to submit to ill-treatment by the husband or anyone else. Domestic barbarity has to be recognised and should not be put down 'small matters'", Pathak said. She observed that police cannot decide the limits of a woman's tolerance or the scope of her goodness in being a good wife.

Pathak, however, appreciated the state police decision to sensitise policemen on the subject. "It is a good beginning and was very necessary", Pathak said.

District superintendent of police Keshav Kumar, who has compiled a study on crime against women and is trying to popularise it as a reference material for better policing and detection, said more of such programmes were needed. "Police's interaction with a women's NGO will help a lot in understanding problems faced by women and cultivating sensitivity towards such issues," Kumar said.

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

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Traditional art help schoolchildren learn Sunday, August 19, 2001

VADODARA: For most school students studying subject dealing with civic rights and responsibilities could be a boring exercise.

But for the standard five students of the Alembic Vidyalay and the VMC school number 7 at Fatehgunj, these two chapters in their textbooks were converted into a colourful Bhavai (a Gujarati folk form) on video, making it a fun subject to study.

This blending of the traditional folk form of Bhavai into a modern electronic filmed format helped students not only to learn the subject better but also provided a platform for discussions between students and teachers.

An MS University student, Kinjal Bhatt, of the faculty of home science, department of extension and communication, developed this innovative teaching method as a part of her dissertation that aimed to study the efficacy of the use of unconventional teaching methods.

"This involved the use of a 'videoed bhavai', flash cards and discussions of the courses of social studies in two schools selected by her. The entire study was aimed at helping students grasp a topic (civic rights and responsibilities) that would have otherwise been a difficult topic to understand and remember," says her guide Uma Joshi.

According to Joshi the response to the first experiment that was conducted last year was very positive. "The schools are interested in keeping the video cassettes of the Bhavai so that other students too can benefit from this method. Some local television channels too aired these for the general public as they deal with a topic that is of interest to all," she says.

In her dissertation Kinjal Bhatt enumerates the schools differed in their teaching methods and students too came from varied backgrounds. "Trying out the strategy in two different schools would be helpful in finding out the effectiveness of the strategy for teaching under various situations.

We, therefore, selected the Alembic Vidyalaya (where parents of students were better educated and students themselves had more exposure) and the VMC school in Fatehgunj where awareness of students was limited".

The students were in the age group of 10 to 11 years old about to enter their teenage and for them the social studies course on rights and responsibilities is important considering that they are on the threshold of teenage.

"Formulation of values, principles and ethics, which guide their behavioural patterns, are laid at this age and therefore the course becomes an important tool to disseminate value education," she writes.

One of the topics covered is on responsibilities of a citizen, which are enumerated through a story that is woven into a Bhavai which is presented through music, songs and actors ranglo, rangli and the vidushak.

Lessons on safeguarding public property, caring for the environment, respecting all religions, paying taxes, exercising one's franchise and caring for the national flag and the anthem are taught in the dramatised format.

Similarly, lessons on the rights of the citizens, such as the right to equal treatment irrespective of gender, fighting against injustice, right to education, cultural freedom, religious freedom, right to form trusts and organisations, right to free expression are also taught. All these are enumerated in a story format, making it an easy and entertaining exercise.

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

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Nadiad civic body owes GEB Rs 9 cr Sunday, August 19, 2001

NADIAD: Power supply to the Nadiad municipal office was snapped on Friday by the GEB authorities for non-payment of bill amounting to Rs. 9 crore.

Even in March, the GEB had cut supply of municipal office, octroi check posts and municipal hall for the same reason. However, it was restored at the intervention of the head office.

Alongside 325 teachers of 47 municipal schools staged a demonstration here at the municipal office to highlight non-payment of their two months' salary. Though 95 per cent of the salary was deposited by the government only five per cent is to be borne by the municipality, somehow for the past two months, municipal authorities have failed to deposit even such a negligible sum, they said.

Owing to the strike teaching was hit in municipal schools. The strike is likely to continue if the salary is not paid, said the teachers.

Meanwhile, municipal president has summoned the general board on August 18 to discuss the budget issue. In fact, councillors had ganged up to remove the president Durga Jeswani, who had received show cause notice for failing to run the administration as per municipal rules.

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

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BHAVNAGAR :: Banking sector in crisis as branches face closure Sunday, August 19, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: All India State Bank Officers' Federation general secretary Shantha Raju on Thursday said that the country's banking industry was passing through a critical phase and if its functioning was not revised, some public sector banks might face closure.

Raju, who was here for two days, elaborated that financial reforms and market-driven forces have created a frightening situation for PSBs. In the changed scenario, big sharks get soft loans at a lower rate of interest, whereas small-scale units, agricultural sector and petty traders have to pay a higher interest.

Referring to the debacle of US 64 UTI scheme, Raju, who is on the SBS board of directors, said the UTI scheme, backed by the government of India had left high and dry small investors, who are in need of an assured return at the time of their superannuation. "The great fiasco reflects a great betrayal of people's faith in the government owned scheme".

As to the voluntary retirement scheme, he said none of the PSBs had undertaken a study of what would happen if over a lakh employees leave the banks. The existing workforce was under great strain just to maintain quality service. .

The proposed restructuring of the PSBs would lead to a closure of 50 to 70 per cent of the branches in states like Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and even in the North East.

A national policy of technology upgradation needs to be evolved for uniform development of banks. If the Centre did not provide adequate funds, some banks would be at a great disadvantage and dubbed as weak and loss-making units However, Raju agreed that bank officers, employees and managements needed to change their mindset for facing a tough competition with private and foreign banks that made more profits, ironically in the same set of circumstances, where in PSBs are making great loss.

Raju opined that the RBI should exercise controlling for diversification of financial business activities like opening up of insurance, mutual funds, lease finances by the PSBs.

A volume of non-performing assets of banks have reached a new level of Rs. 70,000 crore. To check this menace, the government should declare a list of defaulters borrowing more than Rs. 1 crore from banks. Legal reforms regarding recovery of debt and empowering banks to seize assets of defaulters need to be adopted< This step would minimise dreadful loss of banks, he added.

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

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