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August 2, 2001 - August 2, 2001

Decision on shifting Surat courts soon: Minister Thursday, August 2, 2001

THE TIMES OF INDIA NEWS SERVICE
GANDHINAGAR: Law minister Hemant Chapatwala informed that the state government would in consultation with authorities of the Gujarat High Court and Bar associations decide whether the courts in Surat city should be shifted to new premises or not. The existing court complex building is in a dilapidated condition, as it suffered severe damage in the Republic Day earthquake.

While replying to supplementaries arising from original question of Dhansukhbhai Patel in the Assembly, the minister said that the damage caused to the court building was around Rs 2.10 crore in addition to the Rs 60 lakh the government has spent on repairs in the last seven years.

He said after the earthquake, the courts have been shifted to a multi-storeyed building and in old government rest house in Nanpura.

When two BJP members from Surat _ Atmaram Parmar and Gulabdas Khasi _ complained that the new arrangement was congested and the lawyers have to write 'Vakalatnamas' sitting at a tea stall, the minister replied that the temporary arrangement was also made after consulting the lawyers.

Chapatwala said the government was also considering a proposal received from a section of lawyers that atleast two storeys of the six-storeyed court complex should be demolished to make it more safe.

The government will finalise the new building plan for the courts at the earliest. As compared to 26 courts, Surat city will have 10 new metropolitan courts and all these courts would have to be accommodated in the proposed building.

Wild ass sanctuary: State forest minister Kanjibhai Patel assured the Assembly that the government has decided to denotify 589 square km area of wild ass sanctuary spread in five districts of Saurashtra and Kutch for development of salt industry.

Replying to a host of supplementaries on a question from Vadsanbhai Ahir, the minister said the decision has been taken following a report submitted by GEER which was entrusted the job due to a special civil application filed in the Gujarat High Court. The wild ass sanctuary has been declared under the Wild Life Protection Act since 1973 but the government has received several representations against the sanctuary area.

The government, he said, has appointed settlement commissioner to dispose off the claims and once the survey is over, all the 4,321 claims would be settled. Senior BJP member I K Jadeja criticised the government for inordinate delay in the settlement of claims.

The forest minister told Devanand Solanki that the vigilance commissioner was inquiring into the charges of irregularities in forest division of Bhavnagar and stern action would be taken against those involved in the purchase of seeds and polythene sheets.

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


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Building crashes during blasting at Adipur Thursday, August 2, 2001

THE TIMES OF INDIA NEWS SERVICE
BHUJ: Two labourers Tikarana Khimsariya (20) and Ratna Karsan Makwana (50) were seriously injured when the multi-storeyed Sidhhi Vinayak Apartment at Adipur collapsed while preparation for blasting off was on this morning.

In preparation for blasting, last minute drilling was on when the building on the Rambaugh Road in Sector No 3A collapsed. Tikarana has been shifted to Bhuj for amputation of his right leg.

Some local people said the apartment collapsed due to series of aftershocks. Seismographic office in New Delhi has confirmed only two shocks of which one put at 4.2 on R-scale at 1150 a.m. The other was of 2 R around 12:30 p.m. But the building collapsed at around 9 a.m.

Artisans' plight: Over two hundred weavers at the world famous crafts village of Bhujodi on Bhuj- Anjar state highway, four km from here have given up their traditional occupation of making Kutchi shawls, dress material, shetranji and other materials. They said they took the painful decision in view of the apathy of the government machinery that has yet given them either financial help or rebuilt work sheds that had collapsed in the earthquake.

When this correspondent visited the village, all worksheds were deserted and craftsmen were either sitting idle or watching cricket match on the TV. Arjan Vankar alleged the district administration had not followed up on the promise Union textiles minister Kashiram Rana made to craftsmen of Bhujodi and other centres of Kutch about providing them financial help and worksheds. After long wait, 80 per cent of craftsmen have unwillingly joined in construction labour work.

The Bhuj Mercantile Bank has announced that they would help all craftsmen at Bhujodi but had distributed loan of Rs 10,000 each to 25 Vankars. Fifty others have been waiting for their turn, but with the announcement of Merchants Package, the bank is no more interested in helping these rural craftsmen, Arjan complained.

Hardly 20 craftsmen have resumed weaving after an NGO from Andhra Pradesh arranged a temporary work shed for them. The season for these craftsmen begins in October and lasts till February, but as the quake ruined the village at the end of January, the stock could not be sold out. Preparation to buy raw materials has to begin before Janmashtami, but now it seems impossible.

Global warming is yet another factor that has crippled this craft of weaving woollen shawls. However, flow of NGOs and other visitors into Kutch in the earthquake aftermath had helped them to sell some goods, admitted Arjan.
Six months after the quake, visitors still keep coming and that is a manna for craftsmen.

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


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Battle royale in the house of Gaekwad Thursday, August 2, 2001

By RAJA BOSE, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: Controversy is brewing again around the sprawling Laxmi Vilas Palace here as the former maharaja, the late Fatehsinhrao Gaekwad's youngest brother, Sangramsinh, plans to take legal action against his mother for an alleged "move to sell off a part of the palace land".

A recent announcement in a local daily, claiming Fatehsinh's mother Shanta Devi has pledged 66 acres of palace land to the state government for developing housing schemes for the weaker sections of society, has raised Sangramsinh's hackles. He is already fighting a protracted battle with other family members over distribution of property.

Sangramsinh, who is based in Mumbai, is consulting legal experts to decide his further course of action. "The entire property is disputed; how can someone sell off such property, albeit for a noble cause," he told The Times of India over the phone from Mumbai.

The ownership of the property, which belonged to Maharaja Fatehsinhrao till his death in 1988, is under a cloud at present with a Vadodara court still hearing a case challenging the status of Shanta Devi as the sole heir to Fatehsinhrao's property.

Sangramsinh argues that the Hindu Succession Act is not applicable in this case and the court has declared 'lis pendens' on all movable and immovable property, which means that disposal or transfer of any such property can be done only after the result of the case is out.

"The move to provide land for weaker sections of society will not help the beneficiaries. Instead, it will push them towards a dark future. There is a 'lis pendens' on the property, which is listed with the sub-registrar's office. This is not freehold property and Shanta Devi will not have a clear title over this property till the case is fully heard and settled," says Sangramsinh.

He warns that whoever buys houses under the proposed scheme will not be considered a bonafide owner for the simple reason that the court is yet to decide on the ownership issue.

"The news came as a surprise to me because such a sale will be grossly illegal. When the matter is sub judice and I am a party to it, they should have obtained my permission before negotiating with the government. I would never have objected to something that would help the cause of the weaker sections of society. My objection is to the sale of disputed land to unsuspecting people, which will land them in trouble," he adds.

According to legal experts, the problem lies in the fact that Sangramsinh has challenged the "transfer of Fatehsinh Gaekwad's property to Shanta Devi", saying that the Hindu Succession Act did not apply in the case. He argues that Section 5(2) of the Hindu Succession Act states that the Act cannot be applied to property that comes under the purview of a merger agreement between the then ruler and the government of India.

Experts point out that what could be followed is "family custom" and Fatehsinh Gaekwad, in his book The Prince and the Man has mentioned a family custom of property being shared equally among brothers. "Even if this is not accepted by the court of law, the matter can be settled according to the Principles of Hindu Law, 20A (principle of equity) of which states that 'where there is no rule of Hindu law and no proof of existence of any custom, rules of justice, equity and good conscience will apply'," say experts.

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


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Quake survivor gets a taste of English hospitality Thursday, August 2, 2001

BY TRIDIV VAIDYA, The Times of India News Service
BHUJ: Life hasn't been the same for 11-year-old Parth Joshi ever since the earthquake six months ago. His father Pradip Joshi, an officer with the Kutch Gramin Bank, had all but lost hope of finding him alive under the debris of their house when along came a rescue team from the United Kingdom and dug a tunnel to bring him out alive on January 29 -- a full three days after the temblor.

Since then, Parth, who lost his mother and brother in the quake, has gone places, in spite of having his left leg amputated. He has been to the Lord's cricket ground to watch a Test between England and Pakistan. He saw the match seated in the players' pavilion with England captain Nasser Hussain by his side.

Parth has also been to Oxford, Bristol and Cornwall; the last to watch a motorcycle race. And his birthday was celebrated at the British naval base at Devon, where he also tried surfing on the high seas and a enjoyed a helicopter ride as a birthday present.

The last six months have been a breezy affair for Parth, a long haul indeed from his collapsed house in Bhuj and the Army Hospital where his left leg was amputated.

Parth was flown to Mumbai and admitted to a private orthopaedic hospital in Mulund. This was where the UK rescue team, which had extricated him, managed to track him down after their job in Kutch was over and they were headed home.

Nick Spence, a member of the team reached the Mumbai hospital where Parth was recovering and presented the boy a doll made of wool. To Parth's surprise, he also invited him to visit the UK to have an artificial limb fitted.

In the second week of May, Parth and his father arrived at Heathrow where most of the team members were at hand to greet them. "We often talk about Indian hospitality, but let me tell you that what we encountered in England was an eye-opener," says Pradip.

The team had by then also managed a fund of 15,000 pounds by sending e-mails to potential donors. Ortho Services in Oxfordshire also chipped in with 12,000 pounds for Parth's treatment and providing him limbs till he attains the age of 18.

In UK, Jamnagar-based Chamanbhai Patel was entrusted the task of accommodating Parth and his father at his residence in Gloucester.

After the artificial limb was fitted on, many fun trips around the country were organised to enable Parth to unwind and get over his trauma.

Spence and other team members did whatever they could do to dispel the pall of gloom over both father and son. Rapid UK team director Graham Payne accompanied Parth and Pradip throughout their tour of Britain.

Parth and his father have returned to Bhuj but the difference the UK trip made to their lives is palpable. Parth is back in school and is in fine health though Pradip says his son still feels the loss of his mother (Kavita) and brother (Jigar).

Parth will have to go to England every year to get his artificial limb replaced; his dad needn't worry about the finance for the trip as it has already been lined up.

About his trip to England, Parth says, "Nick and the others were great though I was homesick by the end of it all. But I would like to go there again."

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


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Quake survivor gets a taste of English hospitality Thursday, August 2, 2001

BY TRIDIV VAIDYA, The Times of India News Service
BHUJ: Life hasn't been the same for 11-year-old Parth Joshi ever since the earthquake six months ago. His father Pradip Joshi, an officer with the Kutch Gramin Bank, had all but lost hope of finding him alive under the debris of their house when along came a rescue team from the United Kingdom and dug a tunnel to bring him out alive on January 29 -- a full three days after the temblor.

Since then, Parth, who lost his mother and brother in the quake, has gone places, in spite of having his left leg amputated. He has been to the Lord's cricket ground to watch a Test between England and Pakistan. He saw the match seated in the players' pavilion with England captain Nasser Hussain by his side.

Parth has also been to Oxford, Bristol and Cornwall; the last to watch a motorcycle race. And his birthday was celebrated at the British naval base at Devon, where he also tried surfing on the high seas and a enjoyed a helicopter ride as a birthday present.

The last six months have been a breezy affair for Parth, a long haul indeed from his collapsed house in Bhuj and the Army Hospital where his left leg was amputated.

Parth was flown to Mumbai and admitted to a private orthopaedic hospital in Mulund. This was where the UK rescue team, which had extricated him, managed to track him down after their job in Kutch was over and they were headed home.

Nick Spence, a member of the team reached the Mumbai hospital where Parth was recovering and presented the boy a doll made of wool. To Parth's surprise, he also invited him to visit the UK to have an artificial limb fitted.

In the second week of May, Parth and his father arrived at Heathrow where most of the team members were at hand to greet them. "We often talk about Indian hospitality, but let me tell you that what we encountered in England was an eye-opener," says Pradip.

The team had by then also managed a fund of 15,000 pounds by sending e-mails to potential donors. Ortho Services in Oxfordshire also chipped in with 12,000 pounds for Parth's treatment and providing him limbs till he attains the age of 18.

In UK, Jamnagar-based Chamanbhai Patel was entrusted the task of accommodating Parth and his father at his residence in Gloucester.

After the artificial limb was fitted on, many fun trips around the country were organised to enable Parth to unwind and get over his trauma.

Spence and other team members did whatever they could do to dispel the pall of gloom over both father and son. Rapid UK team director Graham Payne accompanied Parth and Pradip throughout their tour of Britain.

Parth and his father have returned to Bhuj but the difference the UK trip made to their lives is palpable. Parth is back in school and is in fine health though Pradip says his son still feels the loss of his mother (Kavita) and brother (Jigar).

Parth will have to go to England every year to get his artificial limb replaced; his dad needn't worry about the finance for the trip as it has already been lined up.

About his trip to England, Parth says, "Nick and the others were great though I was homesick by the end of it all. But I would like to go there again."

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


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