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August 9, 2001 - August 10, 2001

MSU proposes to reduce payment seat fee to Rs 2500 Friday, August 10, 2001

VADODARA: In what appears to be a softening of its stand the MS University authorities are now contemplating reducing the fee structure of the faculty of commerce's payment seats scheme to Rs 2,500, if the proposal is ratified by the syndicate.

The syndicate is expected to meet next within two days on the issue. A special emergency syndicate meeting was called on Wednesday to 'rethink' the payment seats issue according to which Rs 6,500 was to be collected per year from students who were unable to make it to the cut off level (58 per cent) in the general category.

But the special syndicate meeting could not arrive at any solution and concluded without reaching a consensus. Some members chose to walk out saying the issue should not be referred to them, while the others said a rethink was not possible since the matter was sub judice.

Later, the adjourned senate meeting of Tuesday too was dissolved abruptly after MSU vice-chancellor Anil Kane walked away after several senate members rushed to the Well of the House, shouting slogans against him.

Following this, several senate members, led by Narendra Parmar, met Kane to evolve a solution. A meeting of the V-C, the pro V-C and several other members ensued, resulting in the proposal to reduce the fee structure.

"We have thought of an alternative to the earlier fee structure. We are planning to propose to the syndicate to fix Rs 2,500 as the fee. This amount is the minimum that would be required to bear the burden of extra students. But we may not be able to reduced the class strength beyond 135 students," Kane said.

He said the introduction of the some such scheme in the MSU faculty of commerce was required to improve the quality of education at the university.

"The four-star rating of the NAC and the resulting evaluation indicated the main reason why we were unable to get a five-star rating was the commerce faculty which had over 235 students per division.

"The poor interaction between students and teachers is responsible for the rating. We therefore wanted to extend our facility by charging Rs 6500 from students who are unable to make it in the first 4770 category through merit," said Kane

According to Kane the university requires more funds to accommodate the large number of students, and some additional charge is required for the purpose.

Meanwhile, MSU students' union vice-president Parth Joshi said the students are not happy with the latest proposal. "We do not want any kind of payment scheme; a minor hike of Rs 700 may be acceptable but this is not acceptable to us," he said.

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

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Rains triggers panic in city, outskirts Friday, August 10, 2001

VADODARA: Incessant rains lashing the city since Sunday evening spread more panic through the city and its outskirts with the levels of Ajwa Sarovar and Viswamitri rising menacingly. The Pratappura Lake, which breached over a month ago inundating three villages, also developed cracks in its walls.

The situation kept the district administration and Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) officials on tenterhooks.

Till Tuesday night, the district administration had alerted 23 villages in three talukas and attempts for evacuation were made. Several villagers, however, refused to move out of their villages. Alerts were sounded in eight villages in Dabhoi taluka, four in Waghodia taluka and 11 in Sankheda taluka.

"A panic situation was triggered in these villages. The villagers were relying on their experience in the past, but we did not want to take any chances, district collector Bhagyesh Jha said.

Meanwhile, officials in the VMC fire department said that the level at Ajwa reservoir had reached a height of 211.97 feet on Wednesday while the Pratappura Lake was at 226.52 feet. Both the reservoirs had touched their highest levels in the season on Tuesday when Ajwa was at the 212.04 feet mark and Pratappura Lake was reported to have water up to 228.39 feet.

The level of Viswamitri stood at seven feet on Wednesday near Kala Ghoda after the VMC released water from the Ajwa Sarovar on Tuesday. The water was released after it crossed the 211 feet "overflow mark" at Ajwa. Water released from Dev dam in the Panchmahals district also led to a rise in level of the Ajwa Sarovar.

Commenting on the situation at Pratappura Lake, Jha said, "The water has receded to quite some extent and is well below the danger mark. The situation is under control."

Jha pointed out that usually it is expected that the small holes open up damaging the reservoir. Both Jha and municipal commissioner Vilasini Ramchandran visited the Pratappura Lake to take stock of the situation.

According to VMC standing committee chairman Shabdasharan Brahmbhatt, "The small pipings were spotted about 4 am in the morning and were plugged by 7 am. Engineers are keeping a close vigil on the reservoir."

Vadodara taluka itself recorded 48 m rain between Monday morning and Tuesday morning. Other talukas in rural Vadodara also recorded heavy rainfall with Naswadi registering the highest rainfall of 121 mm followed by Waghodia (105 mm) and Sankheda (95 mm).

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

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Three tribals killed in Vadodara Friday, August 10, 2001

VADODARA: Three tribals were murdered in two separate incident of killings in the district on Wednesday. The first of the two killings which took place in Chhota Udepur is dubbed as a double murder case.

According to preliminary investigation report prepared by the police, one Dahesingh Rathwa (27) and another Variya Rathwa (25) were done to death by Natu Rathwa, Tetiya Rathwa, Mangudia Rathwa and Angudiya Rathwa here at Nalej village on Wednesday. The incident reportedly took place at around 1 am. The victims were hit by clubs. They received serious head injuries and succumbed to it on the spot. One Balsingh Rathwa was also seriously injured in the assault.

Police said the root of the double murder was Tetiya Rathwa's suspicion that Variya Rathwa was having an affair with his sister-in- law. Chhota Udepur PSI M N Pandya is investigating the case.

The second murder case was reported in Naswadi where a youth killed his elder brother over a land dispute case. The victim, Rama Bhil, was hit with an axe by his younger brother, Khatriya Bhil, at Nishan Village of Naswadi. Rama died on the spot. Khatriya escaped after committing the murder and is absconding. PSI V S Waghela is investigating the case.

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

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Valjibhai Bagda's rally at Rajkot draws applause Thursday, August 9, 2001

RAJKOT : Valjibhai Bagda, Congress party spokesman for Saurashtra and Kutch, is known for his surprise demonstrations and rallies on national issues.

To highlight the 'failure' of the Union government in protecting the 'Hindus of Jammu', he stood in front of the Ramakrishna Ashrama here on Wednesday with a placard that described the "Govt of India" as 'goat of India'. In the placard he made minor changes and replaced the letter 'v' with 'a' to symbolise the failure of the Union government to protect citizens. He clams the government machinery has become 'goat' in the face of growing terrorism in Jammu where innocent people are being killed by extremists.

Among those killed last fortnight in Jammu were Balkrishna Gidharilal and Ramnath. He says when 'Ram and Krishna' get killed, the Union home minister Lal Krishna Advani should own up responsibility and quit. Valjibhai Bagda's solo demonstration did attract curious passers-by and for a few minutes even the Ramakrihna Ashrama witnessed traffic jam. Group of Congressmen were also there to cheer him up and bolster his morale.

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

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Construction industry flexes its muscles in Kutch Thursday, August 9, 2001

BHUJ/AHMEDABAD: Kutch DSP Vivek Shrivastava received some distress calls on Raksha Bandhan day last week from women complaining that the police had done nothing to book builders, architects and town engineers responsible for the deaths of their near and dear ones.

At least three women were baying for the blood of the builders responsible for the death of their brothers, whom they missed on the day.

But in Kutch district, where the construction industry seems to be much more organised politically than the quake victims, Shrivastava is treading cautiously. On Tuesday most of Bhuj observed a partial bandh against "harassment of builders by the police".

The Kutch Construction and Industries Rehabilitation Federation took out a procession to the DSP's office and several women, many of them family members of builders jailed or wanted by the police for their culpability in the collapse of houses in the quake, went on a hunger strike. They ended their fast only after Shrivastava came out and gave an assurance that any police action would be taken only after detailed investigations.

Unlike Ahmedabad, where there has been no groundswell of support for the nearly 76 builders, architects and civic officials arrested in the wake of the quake, their counterparts in Kutch are giving ample display of their clout.

More so, after the incident two weeks back when the arrest of former chairman of the town planning committee of Bhuj Municipality, Rasik Mehta, raised a political furore with many heavyweights from the district, including industries minister Suresh Mehta, coming out in his support.

Bharat Chothani of the newly set up federation says the police have been harassing builders, architects and others engaged in construction activity, "despite the fact that the quake was only an act of God". Claiming that Rasik Mehta was released on bail due to political pressure from Gandhinagar, he sought similar treatment to at least six other Bhuj builders who are still behind bars.

The Bhuj Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Indian Medical Association also supported the bandh call.

Shrivastava admits that the situation is different in Kutch in comparison to Ahmedabad. "This is a small place where everybody knows each other so it is only natural for the builders to receive support from other sections of trade and industry."

The builders have adopted the stand that while it is all right for the police to initiate action against the guilty in Ahmedabad, which was 350 kms away from the quake epicentre, the same yardstick cannot be applied to Kutch.

"In Ahmedabad some structures withstood the shocks while others could not. In Kutch the intensity of the quake was so severe that even well-constructed buildings crumbled," says Himmat Dama, a member of the federation.

Police officers, however, say that the issue has already been settled by the High Court, which had issued directives in response to a petition filed recently.

The court had ruled that the builders were aware that Kutch was in Zone 5 of seismicity and the buildings needed to be designed and constructed keeping this in mind. The argument that the builders were not aware of it and that some of them had also lost their family members in the quake does not absolve them of their guilt.

So far, the Kutch police have registered 26 cases of death in building collapses and arrested 15 persons, much less than in Ahmedabad.

says Shrivastava, "We are not arresting all the builders responsible for deaths in building collapses. We are arresting only those responsible for faulty designs and those guilty of clearing these plans and issuing completion certificates."

The investigations have been hampered because the National Cement and Building Research Institute, New Delhi, has not sent reports of any of the samples sent from Kutch.

"We are in queue. We have been told that our turn will come only after the testing of samples from Ahmedabad gets over," informs Shrivastava.

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

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