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August 11, 2001 - August 11, 2001

HC orders govt to pay pvt primary teachers pension Saturday, August 11, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has directed the state government to prepare and implement within three months a suitable pension scheme for teachers of recognised private primary schools.

The landmark judgment, which is likely to benefit thousands of retired primary school teachers, was given by a Division Bench comprising Justice M R Calla and Justice N G Nandi while deciding on an appeal by the state government against an HC judgment on a petition by a primary teacher, Kusum Borisada, of Vadodara.

The court ruled that primary teachers working in aided recognised private primary schools were entitled to pension benefits. The court observed that secondary and higher secondary teachers and teachers of affiliated colleges already get pension benefits. Therefore there was no justification in denying pensionary benefits to primary teachers as such denial was violative of the equality guarantee enshrined in the Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India, the court said.

The High Court also said that pension as per the scheme directed should be paid from 1997. Senior advocate Haroobhai Mehta with advocate J D Ajmera appeared for the petitioner teacher, while additional government pleader Harsha Devani appeared for the state.

After the petition was moved, a single judge of the court ordered the state government to give her pension benefits. The court had then also asked the state to formulate a scheme for pension.

The details of the date from which the scheme would be made applicable will now be decided by the state government.

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

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Steps initiated to pull GEB out of financial mess Saturday, August 11, 2001

VADODARA: Decline in the industrial growth rate, less drawal of power by HT consumers and natural calamities have hit the GEB hard. Reasons for its poor finances include purchase of power from the private sector, reduction in subsidy, power theft, purchase of raw material and delay in their use.

Worried over the situation, the management and staff unions and associations have suggested ways to improve the GEB's condition.

GEB chief Nalin Bhatt admitted that there was a monthly gap of Rs 200 crores between revenue and expenditure that led to this grim financial situation.

The ray of hope is that the GEB has collected monthly revenue of Rs 682 crore in May which will bring GEB into its own, he asserted.

"Of course it is recovering, albeit at a slower pace", he added.

The Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) wanted it this way because this is the GEB's highest monthly collection since its inception in 1960 .

Besides, for the first time GEB recorded revenue increase of Rs 272.71 crore with receipt of Rs 7284.99 crores in 2000-2001.

The formation of GERC was in the interest of cash- starved GEB as it helped the latter perk up its performance.

Both the management and staff unions and engineers association realise the need to streamline its operations.

Emphasis was on cutting transmission and distribution (T & D) losses , now put at over 34 per cent.

Member administration J N Singh suggested to the unions to adopt feeders where T & D losses were heavy. Such a step could help in reducing this loss.

Against the backdrop of Enron fiasco in Maharastra, GEB should take precautions. Setting up of police stations and amending the law will help GEB to detect cases of power theft.

A sum of Rs 400 crore is blocked due to pending cases, which could be sorted out at Lok Adalat, it was suggested.

Bills related to power thefts could have different colour code. And there could be different practical formula to decide the power theft bills of the farming community. Other suggestions included considering of time bar cases, hiking reconnection and registration charges and collection of double pole connection from consumers.

The inner circle checking will help in curbing power theft and disposal of scrap material will help in increasing the resources, it was suggested. Accountability at all levels can help in improving the condition. it is being realised. Instead of contract system, proper deployment of GEB staff could take place.
Nalin Bhatt says he has been contemplating many steps to improve performance.

Introduction of energy audit and hike in reconnection charge (for non-payment of bills) will increase collection. The daily follow-up on disconnection of lines can keep the officials and staff on their toes. They will not try to restore supply to those indulging in any irregularity.

Metering of all power connections will be done by Dec 31.
The GEB's current streak of assertiveness follows decade of operational languor induced by bureaucratic apathy and political interference. In many respects GEB fares better than most of its counterparts. Its plant availability and plant load factors are higher than national average.

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

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Forest minister has tough time while answering scheme implementation questions Saturday, August 11, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: State forest minister Kanjibhai Patel was on Thursday grilled by Opposition Congress party in the Assembly when he did not reply to members' allegations on large-scale irregularities in the implementation of the Japan-aided Integrated Forest Development Programme. Noisy scenes continued on the issue, and Speaker Dhirubhai Shah had to adjourn the House for 15 minutes.

Trouble started during question hour when members from the tribal belt of Panchmahals and south Gujarat raised supplementaries regarding rampant corruption in the programme in the Godhra forest range, and demanded that the minister should inform the House about complaints received, if any, and action taken on them.

For a while the minister was embarrassed by the sudden and unexpected attack from the Opposition benches and turned evasive on the issue. Defending his position, the minister said members should have given separate notices for such questions. His statement set off protest from the Opposition.

At one stage, MLAs said the speaker should hold over the question as the minister had not done his homework. Leader of Opposition Amarsinh Chaudhary, supporting the stand taken by his party MLAs, said, "Such supplementaries were obvious as the original question was pertaining to the implementation of the scheme in Godhra, and the members were within their right to raise it here."

As repeated pleas by the speaker to maintain order went unheard, he adjourned the House for 15 minutes. Immediately thereafter, parliamentary affairs minister Suresh Mehta went to forest minister telling him that he should have been more prepared. He also went to the officials' gallery and asked why the officials did not furnish the details of the question.

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

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CLP leader by Aug 24; JD faction keen on post Saturday, August 11, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Congress high command has reportedly decided to announce the name of the next Congress Legislature Party leader for the state Assembly by August 24, well ahead of the by-polls scheduled in the two constituencies, party sources told TOI.

Continuing the tradition of one-man-one-post, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Amarsinh Chaudhary will relinquish charge as CLP leader.

Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel's loyalists are believed to be pressing for his appointment to avoid a leader from the erstwhile Janata Dal staking claim consequent to the Sabarmati elections, which is likely to bring Narhari Amin into the Assembly.

"If Amin makes it, there will be 29 former Janata Dal members in the Assembly and they could easily stake claim for the CLP post," confides a senior Congress leader. Word is doing the rounds that it could be either Ahmed Patel supporter Naresh Rawal, or JD faction's Siddharth Patel who would occupy this office.

Meanwhile, the party is still undecided on its candidates for the by-election to the Sabarmati and Sabarkantha constituencies, which are likely to prove a litmus test for the two major contenders -- Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.

Political analysts believe that if there is anything that will work against the BJP this time, it will be the Rs 1,030-crore Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank (MMCB) scam and the Unit Trust of India (UTI) scam.

"People in Gujarat can forgive anything but they will never forget or forgive a financial loss," observes a political analyst. And this has the BJP on tenterhooks, more so because their candidate would be riding the 'popularity wave' of Union home minister LK Advani, who the MMCB depositors are already gunning for.

To mollify the electorate, the BJP is trying hard to have the MMCB dues repaid to depositors within the next fortnight. And simultaneously one hears rumours about the by-elections shifting to November 2001, to coincide with the Uttar Pradesh by-polls. Both these polls are tentatively scheduled for September-end.

Leader of the JD faction, Urmila Patel, who had considered contesting from the Sabarkantha parliamentary seat, was reportedly advised against it since the constituency is dominated by tribal and Dalit voters. Yet the Congress is said to be hosting a meeting there on August 17, to be addressed by former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela with JV Momin and Siddharth Patel as chief guests.

Amarsinh Chaudhary may be trying to push his son Tushar as a contestant but there are a galaxy of names including those of Madhusudan Mistry (Vaghela group), BK Gadhvi, Govind Patel (Solanki group) and an NRI KC Patel, as the likely contestants from this tribal-dominated constituency.

The BJP's main concern, however, lies in the middle class-dominated Sabarmati Assembly seat where the Congress has more or less decided to foist Amin.

Nevertheless, a section of the Congress also believes that since Amin has already lost twice from this BJP bastion, it would be worthwhile to consider another candidate. And thus figure the names of Krishnakant Vekhariya and Natwarlal Patel (Natumama) for the Sabarmati seat.

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

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Payment seats: More mediators step in Saturday, August 11, 2001

VADODARA: A new twist has been added to the MS University payment seats imbroglio, with Congress leader and syndicate member Chinnam Gandhi joining the bandwagon of leaders trying to mediate for a resolution of the issue.

Gandhi kicked off his "mediation campaign" on Thursday. Gandhi plans to request the four litigants, who have filed petitions against the MSU's payment scheme, to withdraw the cases.

Sources say stakes are high for both the BJP and the Congress as many of their politicians are a part of those trusts that have received an NOC from the university to start self-financed commerce courses.

"Unless the court cases are taken back, the syndicate might not be able to arrive at a conclusion on the fee structure. He said if the cases were withdrawn, they would try to further reduce the fee structure from Rs 2500 to an amount that is 'less taxing'," he said.

Meanwhile, MSU senate member Narendra Tiwari, who has filed one of the four petitions against the university, said under no circumstances would he agree to step down. "This is just a ploy of the political parties to keep the issue unresolved. I would continue to fight my case in the higher courts. On Wednesday, I have filed an appeal in the higher court, and obtained a stay against the university till August 13," he said.

Several members of the BUTA say the issue would harm the students who have not yet been able to seek admission in the general merit category.

In a joint statement, members of the Save Education Committee, PUCL, All India Democratic Students Organisation, CITU, AITUC, VKU and Sahiyar have said they would not accept any scheme that involves fee hike. The payments seats system should be scrapped. An equal fee structure with help from government grants is the only option that we would agree to. We oppose the anti-education policy of the state government, they said.

Session to begin
MS University pro vice-chancellor VD Pathak said classes for the first year commerce students of the general merit category would commence next week. He said those students who have to seek admission in the higher fees category (those who have scored below the cut-off level) would have to wait until the court case is heard.

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

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