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August 10, 2001 - August 11, 2001

I-Day, festivals: Elaborate security arrangements Saturday, August 11, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
SURAT: In view of escalation in terrorist activities in Kashmir following General Musharraf's visit to India last month, recent seizure of RDX in Kanpur, communal strife over screening of 'Gadar' film, attacks on Amarnath pilgrims by militant outfits and the mysterious transaction of RDX in the city between accomplices of mafia don Chhota Shakeel and the local gangsters Mehboob Ali Pathan alias Montu in April-end and the same being handed over to someone unknown on May 10 with no clue of its whereabouts till date, elaborate police bandobast has been planned to ensure the forthcoming Independence Day, and the Janmashtami and Ganesh Utsav pass off peacefully in Surat.

The city police have been informed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about possibilities of anti-social activities in the city and other parts of the district, as a spillover of terrorists activities in other parts of the country in view of the Dubai-based mafia dons' attempts to have their local contacts carry out criminal tasks.

To prevent any inflow of inter-state criminals in the city, the city police recently had a meeting with the railway police officials to put a strict vigil on anti-social elements likely to enter the city by rail, additional police commissioner Mohan Jha said.

Jha informed that Mehboob Ali and his six associates, presently in police custody, are being interrogated and investigations have begun as per the clues revealed by them. Two of their associates have been nabbed in Mumbai with the assistance of the Mumbai police last week and the whole case is being looked into afresh, he added.

Moreover, elaborate measures by the city police for the Independence Day are also directed towards foiling any designs by the Dubai-based mafia gangs through their local links in the city, a senior police official informed.

As part of bandobast, more combing operations in the city along with nakabandis at different places have been planned to flush out unwanted elements from the city, Jha said. Two companies of SRP have been requisitioned for the purpose, he informed.

Besides, all the entry points to the city and other sensitive areas in the district are to be put under strict vigilance with nakabandi at several places. Additional police force comprising three companies of SRP, 800 homeguards and 600 volunteers of Gram Raksha Dal are to be deployed by the district police in the coming days.

According to district superintendent of police K L N Rao, as part of measures to ensure nothing untoward takes place, special drives would be launched by the police and a special watch would be kept on all the vehicles coming from outside into the district and to those moving suspiciously. All the entry points from NH 8 to the city and other parts of the district would be sealed with police check post at all the strategic points, Rao informed.

With just one week left for the Independence Day, a special drive has been planned to flush out illegal arms in the district and extra vigil would be kept on the potential mischief makers. For this all the police stations are being activated with specific instructions to the policemen on duty in respective areas, Rao stated.

Sources in the city police said that the IB has sounded the rural police to be extra vigilant on the eve of the Independence Day with measures to seal all the entry points to city from the national highway. The message from IB to the district police is that of a general alertness in sensitive areas of the district, sources said.

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


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Labour commissioners may be given more power Friday, August 10, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: State labour minister Bhupendra Lakhawala on Thursday informed the Assembly that the government was contemplating empowering the Labour Commissioners.

Since the process of settling industrial disputes in labour courts was time consuming -- which meant delayed justice -- such a move was expected to help the cause of speedier disposal of cases.

Replying to a debate on budgetary demands of labour and employment portfolios, Lakhawala said the government had made concerted efforts to avoid lock-outs in big industrial houses which may have been affected by globalisation and the general recession. As a result of such measures, around 70,000 workers could be retained in 44 companies.

These industries had been declared relief units by the government; as a result the government -- both the state and the central -- received revenue of Rs 75 crore from them towards payment of sales tax, professional tax and central excise duties.

The government, he said, has vigorously pursued the policy of industrial peace which has yielded desires result. The number of mandays lost had also come down to 62,155, from 2,06,953.

This was possible due to the timely intervention of officials.

The government has decided to set up a new labour court in Dahod, in the Panchmahals district, and a new Industrial Training Institute at Kapadvanj, in Kaira district.
Referring to the demand of minimum wages for farm labourers, Lakhawala said the government had received the report of the cabinet sub-committee. The new recommendations would be implemented soon, he said.

Responding to complaints that the government was not enforcing the 'son of the soil' policy in recruitments to central undertakings, the minister said the government had entrusted a committee, headed by chief secretary, with the task of studying such complaints. Once the report was received, a policy would be framed, he said.

Senior BJP member Dhirubhai Gajera had alleged that very few skilled persons were absorbed into KRIBHCO, in Surat. Despite his repeated complaints no action had been taken. He alleged that it was common for many people, coming from outside the state, to obtain a domicile certificate stating that he had been living in Gujarat for the past 15 years.

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


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Rains leave VTD subscribers high and dry Friday, August 10, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Telephone subscribers of City and Alkapuri telephone exchanges are facing problems with their telephone lines, which have been out of order since Monday's downpour.

Both City and Alkapuri telephone exchanges are the oldest telephone exchanges in Vadodara Telecom District (VTD) and are plagued with cable faults.

While it couldn't be ascertained exactly how many telephone lines were down, telecom sources said many subscribers had called City and Alkapuri exchanges to register their complaints.

"My telephone has not been working since Monday. I have lodged a complaint but nothing has been done so far. I have even tried to speak to a senior BSNL officer but in vain," laments Kanthimathi, a telephone subscriber residing in Alkapuri. Her telephone has been out of order for four days.

Kanthimathi's father-in-law stays abroad while her family is in South India. For her, and many other citizens like her, a telephone line is not merely a mechanical instrument. It's a vital connectivity link that transports much more than human voice. In Kanthimathi's case her telephone line is used to access the internet as well.

"I can't call up my in laws everyday but I can keep in touch with them on e-mail. But with my telephone going phut the e-mail option is also ruled out," Kanthimathi says. She hopes that VTD would be sensitive towards subscribers telephone problems.

Some of the other subscribers in Alkapuri and city face similar problems.

VTD, however, insists that faults are temporary and caused primarily because of damage to underground cables some of which are 20 years old. VTD says that old cables are prone to moisture and water, and gets damaged easily and it is not easy to detect such faults. Subscribers however are not ready to buy this argument.

Another theory of cable fault that has gained ground is the allegations that substandard work in laying underground telephone cables causes frequent snags. Sources allege that there are instances where cable laying work has been awarded to agencies that instead of putting the cables at a minimum depth of 3 ft, laid it at 1 or 1.5 ft. It is also alleged that VTD often ignores monitoring of underground cable laying work while the firm that is awarded the cable laying contract allegedly indulges in substandard work to save on labour cost. Measures like insulating the cables with a brick cement layer are also ignored at times.

'The Times of India' tried to contact VTD Additional Manager (north) Ajay Kamal for his comments but the latter was not available. Kamal was reportedly busy with field inspection.

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


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IA plans new aircraft for Gujarat sector Friday, August 10, 2001

SACHIN SHARMA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Indian Airlines (IA) is planning to use an additional aircraft to connect Mumbai to cities in Gujarat.

The move follows extensive lobbying by members of the Western Region Advisory Committee (WRAC) which had raised the issue of irregular and unsuitable timings of IA flights to Gujarat and, Vadodara in particular.

Indian Airlines general commercial manager (West Region) S Krishnamurthy told 'The Times of India' that the airlines is planning to purchase a couple of new aircraft by this year-end. "We have sought one for this region so that the growing traffic and the problem of timings is taken care of. This aircraft could connect Mumbai and any of the main cities in Gujarat like Vadodara, Ahmedabad or Bhuj. We have to decide on the route," said Krishnamurthy.

IA had recently discontinued its service from Vadodara to Mumbai due to the monsoon.
Though this flight will be re-started in September, IA will go ahead with its plan to induct the new aircraft to ease the growing demand in this sector.

In a WRAC meeting held recently, members had come down heavily on the cancellation of services from Vadodara. ``The cancellation was made on the grounds that there is little traffic here. But the fact is that if IA maintains its timings and services to those flying it, there is sufficient traffic here,'' said WRAC member Harshit Talati. WRAC members here have been claiming that it was due to irregularities that the flight did not attract many passengers.

Talati pointed out that IA's only competitor on the route, Jet Airways, was making huge gains due to the inconvenient flight timing, late departures and cancellation of IA flights. "People have to travel by Jet Airways as they have no option," Talati said.

Jaykant Patel, another member who had attended the meeting, said, "There is sufficient traffic for two flights from the city. Instead, there is only one from IA. Even this was discontinued due to monsoon and the so-called lack of traffic."

Commenting on the remarks by the members, Krishnamurthy said, "that the cancellation was only temporary was made clear when we announced the decision. The flight will resume from September this year."

However, there is little that the airlines can do at the moment. ``With the pressure on our fleets we cannot play around much with the timings. To satisfy the need at one centre, we cannot play around with the timings at others. This may create a major hue and cry at other places. For instance, there is a major demand for additional flights from Nagpur too,'' Krishnamurthy said.

Nonetheless, regular flyers to Mumbai continue to look down upon IA services. Said former Federation of Gujarat Industries chairman Amit Goradia, ``The issue had been raised when the IA chairman and managing director visited Vadodara. Foreign visitors ask us to book them in the economy class of a private airlines instead of the business class of IA. This speaks for the services provided by it."

"The expectation is not only regarding good food. I would rather carry my own sandwiches and reach on time, but even that does not happen," Goradia pointed out.

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


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RBI to provide Saurashtra much needed coins Friday, August 10, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: The Reserve Bank has promised to provide coins of Rs 6 crore for Saurashtra which has been facing a chronic shortage of coins for the past few years.

This promise was given to a delegation of Saurashtra Sankalan Samiti when it called on the RBI officials in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. A huge contingent of Samiti members from all over Saurashtra had gone to Ahmedabad on Wednesday to 'gherao' the regional headquarters of RBI.

However, the police foiled that attempt and allowed a five-member delegation led by Parag Tejura to meet the RBI officials.

According to Tejura, the RBI would distribute within a month coins worth Rs 6 crore through 79 branches having currency chests. While 50 per cent of the promised coins would be distributed immediately the rest would be distributed within a month.

"The RBI authorities also promised the delegation if any bank branch refused to accept soiled notes, the attention of the RBI could be drawn to it through fax or phone, and immediate action would be taken against the erring bank", he said.

The RBI officials pointed out that in the past three years, the RBI had distributed coins worth Rs 50 crore in Gujarat. But Tejura alleged that the Saurashtra region had not received even Rs 5 crore worth of coins during this period. Only after an agitation coins worth Rs 6 crores were being released.

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


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