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August 8, 2001 - August 8, 2001

Amarsinh Chaudhary blasts BJP ministry Wednesday, August 8, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: GPCC president Amarsinh Chaudhari has said the BJP government did not know how to rule and serve the public. It also lacked intelligence and strategy, though it had been been in power for a long.

Chaudhary, who was here on Saturday for the first time as GPCC chief, however, said that the Congress members would have to ponder over the party's weaknesses and work hard to strengthen it and thereby revive people's faith in the party.

He said at a public function that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had resigned 13 days after becoming prime minister first time and after 13 months in the second instance.

"The announcement that he would resign reflected the fact that Vajapayee was really fed up with NDA co-ordination", he added.

Former minister Shaktisinh Gohil added that the BJP had lost people's faith and could not work effectively during the earthquake.
However, local Congress leaders' claim that many BJP and other parties' workers would join the Congress in the presence of Chaudhary turned out to be a propaganda. Hardly a couple of workers, who had walked out of the Congress returned to its fold at the public meeting.

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

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Civic row over reserved land in Rajkot Wednesday, August 8, 2001

RAJKOT : The ruling Congress party in the Rajkot municipal corporation is caught in an unsavoury controversy over a 3840 sq metre plot of land on Gondal Road reserved 12 years ago under the town planning scheme for economically and socially weaker sections.

For some strange reason, the party came up with a proposal in the general board to hand it over to the original owners. The proposal was placed in the general board by Congress corporator Rajubhai Chavdiya.

However, sources in the civic body pointed out that the proposal had the backing of the city congress president Manoharsinh Jadeja and mayor Ashok Dangar was acting at the behest of Jadeja. The controversy over this issue generated so much heat that a group of Dalits once even stormed the general board meeting with placards demanding not to dereseve the plot.

What's more, the land controversy has divided the 44-member Congress in the municipal corporation and the opposition BJP, too, had once disrupted the proceedings. A group of Dalit corporators of the Congress party have been pressurising the party leadership not to go ahead with dereservation.

During his first visit as the GPCC president, Amarsinh Chaudhary had to face a hostile group of Congressmen, mainly Dalits, who drew his attention to the fact that having captured power with Dalit and backward class backing, the Congress party in Rajkot was turning its back on its own vote bank. A group of Dalit corporators also called on him. The GPCC president, after hearing different groups, expressed himself against the proposal and reportedly agreed with the Dalits that the land be used for the housing colony of weaker sections.

Meanwhile, municipal commissioner J P Gupta has reportedly exposed his opinion that the proposal even if accepted by the general board was not tenable as there was no provision in the BPMC Act to restore land to original owners once it was acquired under the Town Planning Act.

The BJP which was reeling under the shock of its humiliating defeat in the municipal election, has found the land controversy a handy tool to expose the 'transparent' administration of the Congress.

While none of the factions in the city Congress owned up responsibility for placing the proposal, city Congress president Manoharsinh Jadeja has reportedly expressed his anguish over the manner in which his name was dragged into the controversy. So far he has refrained from making any statement on the issue. However, his supporters point to his unblemished record in various ministries and feel he has been needlessly dragged into this controversy.

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

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Rajkot Chamber writes to PM on tax holiday for Saurashtra Wednesday, August 8, 2001

RAJKOT: The Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry has threatened an agitation to achieve its demand of tax holiday for earthquake affected trade and industrial units in Saurashtra on the pattern of the package being offered to the Kutch region.

In a letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, chamber president Dhirbhai Vithalani has expressed disappointment over exclusion of earthquake affected Saurashtra region from the package.

Vithalani said both the Centre and the state agree that even Saurashtra had been crippled by the earthquake of January 26. The region feels orphaned for not being considered for the tax holiday package while the same was announced for the Kutch region.

Trade and industry in Saurashtra have been contributing a sizeable amount towards both the Central and state revenue earnings. Yet the exclusion of Saurashtra had forced the trade and industry to launch an agitation on the issue.

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

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HC notices to authorities on weavers' petition Wednesday, August 8, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has issued notices to Gujarat State Handloom Development Corporation and secretary industries following a plea from the Banaskantha Vankar Hathvanat Karigar Sangh seeking provision of adequate work to handloom workers. Justice P B Majmudar issued notices to the chairman and the manager of the corporation returnable on August 13.

Petitioner Banasknatha Vankar Hathvanat Karigar Sangh is a registered trade union and represents about 685 weavers in the district of Banaskantha. They moved the petition against the failure of the respondent corporation to provide adequate means of livelihood to members of the Sangh though the GSHDC was established for the uplift of weavers in the state.

It was submitted on their behalf that since the traditional occupation of its members was weaving and its members are not trained for any other work, they should be provided adequate facilities and incentives, else they would be rendered without any means of livelihood.

Since 1994, the GSHDC has been indifferent about providing the weavers regular work. As a result, they have been rendered jobless.

In an attempt to promote the handloom industry and to protect the conditions of handloom weavers, the state had decided to put up a government undertaking, the Gujarat State Handloom Development Corporation. The corporation undertook various schemes and activities for the uplift of weavers belonging to backward class and minorities in particular who are not assimilated in the co-operative sector.

They submitted that their plight was miserable and required immediate assistance, adding that that the relationship between the corporation and the weavers was one of employment. They also complained that they were not getting sufficient cotton supply from the corporation.

The petitioners have sought directions seeking that handloom weavers are not deprived of regular work. A direction to restrain the corporation from terminating the contract of employment with weavers has also been sought.

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

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Conditions in mental hospitals can turn the sane crazy Wednesday, August 8, 2001

VADODARA: There should be one psychiatrist for every 10 beds in a hospital, under Section 22 of the State Mental Health Authority Rules. But there are just three psychiatrists in the 367-bed mental hospital in Ahmedabad!

Quality of medical care in this chronically understaffed hospital can be anybody's guess for nurses strength is just 35. Under the norms the hospital should have 122 nurses if the recommended ratio of one nurse for three patients is to be met!

If you thought the hospital was lacking only in staff, you have not seen the gloomy 140-year old building. It should have been pulled down long ago.

"A mental hospital should provide an adequate, lively and therapeutic environment", states a Supreme Court verdict of 1993 while laying guidelines on mental hospitals. But with its dilapidated structure, broken roof-tiles, dark and gloomy inner spaces, the ancient mental hospital in a study in contrast.

Interestingly, it should have been discarded. A new one could have been set up with the Rs 6 crore grant sanctioned for building a lively building six years back. But construction began only in 1999 and no one is ready to say how long it could take. "How do we know? We are not the PWD", pat comes the reply from an official in the hospital.

Officials may not admit it but the delay has many a fallout. "They have pulled down parts of the building leading to a drastic cut in the inpatient capacity. Less than 270 patients can be admitted against the granted 367 --- around 100 patients are routinely denied indoor treatment", points out an activist.

Ironically, the well-designed, sprawling New Mental Health Compound behind the Civil Hospital would have been the panacea for mentally-ill patients cramped for space in Ahmedabad. But the state government does not seem to get it free for the patients. "Till 2000, the DGP office and a few other government offices were located there. Now that the DGP office has moved to Gandhinagar, the building should have ideally gone to patients... but that is not to be with the government not making its decision known", says the activist.

Hospital staff remain obviously tight-lipped when asked if patients are chained. "Forget chaining, we have heard worse. It seems violent patients are shifted to the isolation ward and then forgotten for two or three days, forced to live amidst excretion", the activist said. Reaction could not be obtained as superintendent Ravindra Bakre was out of station.

The 350-bed Karelibaug Mental Hospital in Vadodara has only two psychiatrists to cater to 300 patients on any single day.

Though patients are not tied up, psychiatrists and psychologists who have visited the government hospital say that patients are not kept in hygienic conditions due to staff shortage.

"Six medical officers and a resident medical officer do help in the administrative work, but there is a need for more psychiatrists as two cannot take care of the 300 patients on any single day", says a senior employee. Hospital superintendent B H Buch was at Navsari and was not available for comment.

"Being a government organisation, we have to provide free treatment to most patients. But fund shortage has taken its toll. We get many relatives who despite being well-off do not want to keep their insane relatives with them" says a doctor.

"They insist that the patient is unmanageable. Most psychic patients get bouts of insanity; they become difficult to manage. People often dump their siblings here and never visit them. A couple of patients are permanent invalids here. No relative has come to see them" he says.

A city NGO, which provides shelter to insane women, says the condition of patients in the hospital often worsens, as they have none to care for them.

"Many patients respond to treatment if they are given attention and relatives try to help them. But this does not happen and therefore most patients in the Karelibaug mental hospital are chronic patients. Most of them are unable to take care of their personal hygiene. The hospital's in-house conditions therefore not do not conform to standards, said a psychologist.

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

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