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August 2, 2001 - August 2, 2001

'Co-operatives should be managed by efficient people' Thursday, August 2, 2001

A STAFF REPORTER, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: State irrigation minister Nitin Patel on Sunday exhorted members of the co-operatives in Mehsana to be cautious while electing office-bearers of the co-operative institutions in view of deposit scams like the one detected in Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank which has shaken the confidence of people in the co-operative movement.

While addressing a seminar organised by the Mehsana district co-operative union at Mehsana, Patel observed that those with a bad track record should not be elected to manage co-operatives, particularly in the banking sector.

The state government, he said, was trying its best to sustain the growth of co-operative movement that was vibrant in Gujarat. He said concerted efforts are being made by the state government to revive the bank caught in a scam of Rs 1,030 crore.

The office-bearers of the co-operatives should be more vigilant while giving credit, as any wrong decision may lead to serious problems for the depositors whose money then would be at stake as has happened in MMCB and some other co-operative banks in Ahmedabad, he said.

Speaking on the occasion state co-operative bank chairman Jayrambhai Patel said that Gujarat has earned a distinct name in the co-operative movement and therefore it was our responsibility to see that the movement's image is not tarnished. Those managing the co-operative banks should be more careful while utilising the deposits in the banks, he added.

The state co-operative union chairman Ghanshyam Amin said the managements of the co-operative banks should accord priority to the loans demanded by farmers. He was all praise for the dairies run by farmers' co-operatives and those managing sugar mills handled by the co-operative societies.

Gujarat State Co-operative Marketing Society Ltd (GUJCOMASOL) chairman and vice-chairman of IFFCO Natverlal Patel was of the opinion that the government should announce a new Act on co-operatives at the earliest.

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


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Assembly session::Uproar in Assembly over inadequate relief Thursday, August 2, 2001

THE TIMES OF INDIA NEWS SERVICE
GANDHINAGAR: The State Assembly on Monday witnessed noisy scenes when revenue minister Vajubhai Vala turned down a Congress demand for deputing a senior official to visit a group of earthquake-affected people from Maliya-Miyana who were on a fast in state Capital seeking assistance they have been denied.

Pandemonium broke loose during question hour as Leader of Opposition Amarsinh Chaudhary and other members Udesinh Baria and Naresh Rawal drew the attention of the government towards the fasting people, and insisted that their problem should be solved before their health conditions deteriorated in the coming days.

To this Vala replied that the government had already directed district collectors and DDOs to consider the applications of the earthquake-affected and if needed, they should survey the houses damaged in the calamity. Despite this, Congress members continued their attack on the government which sparked off heated exchanges between the BJP and Congress members.

Amidst an uproar, Vala said the agitation was politically motivated and the government would not succumb to such pressure. He added that the group, which was squatting at the staff training college, should have met him and narrated their grievances, and should not have gone to the Congress.

Vala's remarks added fuel to fire and the Congress members again sprang up on their feet to protest. The minister said the government has doubly checked whether the quake-affected people were paid assistance, and the records had revealed that the task had been completed in Maliya Miyana. The BJP MLA from Maliya supported Vala's reply.

Agitated congress members were pacified only when Vala said he would look into the matter if details were given to him by the those who were on fast. He said he would ask the collector of Rajkot district to see that they were paid compensation on the basis of the evidence.

Speaker Dhirubhai Shah pulled up Congress members Udesinh Baria and Naresh Rawal when they tried to show a memorandum they had received from the group. Shah said the minister had already given an assurance, and therefore there was no need for them to give him a copy. Rawal had alleged that the government's stance was discriminatory against Dalits and Muslims.

Death toll in quake: Despite widespread belief that the death toll in the earthquake would not cross the 13,000-mark and that the figures were inflated due to bogus and duplicate claims, Vala informed the Assembly that the death toll was 17,143, and ex-gratia had been paid in 12,494 cases. The highest number of deaths (15,553) have been reported from Kutch district alone, and around 11,000 families were given compensation. Ahmedabad city was second in the list with a death toll of 755, followed by 429 in Rajkot district.

Poor Central aid: In another written reply, the minister said the state government had sought aid of Rs 10,256 crore for the rehabilitation of earthquake-shattered areas, and a sum of Rs 1,974 crore to deal with the drought situation. The Centre had so far paid only Rs 413 crore towards earthquake rehabilitation, and Rs 212 crore for relief works in drought-affected areas.

Ten overdrafts: Vala told Shankarji Thakore that the state government had availed an overdraft from Reserve Bank of India 10 times in one year to manage state finances. The public debts of the state now stood at a whopping Rs 28,107 crore, he added.

Farmers' passbooks: The minister had to face wrath of the Opposition when he said that farmers' passbooks had been distributed in almost 92 per cent of the cases. The agitated members from Jamnagar and Junagadh alleged that farmers had not been given passbooks as was being claimed by the minister.

Vala said the farmers passbooks were distributed in 18 districts and assured that more would be distributed in the remaining seven districts shortly. Till date, more than 42 lakh passbooks have been distributed and the remaining three lakh would be distributed soon.

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


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Assembly session::Uproar in Assembly over inadequate relief Thursday, August 2, 2001

THE TIMES OF INDIA NEWS SERVICE
GANDHINAGAR: The State Assembly on Monday witnessed noisy scenes when revenue minister Vajubhai Vala turned down a Congress demand for deputing a senior official to visit a group of earthquake-affected people from Maliya-Miyana who were on a fast in state Capital seeking assistance they have been denied.

Pandemonium broke loose during question hour as Leader of Opposition Amarsinh Chaudhary and other members Udesinh Baria and Naresh Rawal drew the attention of the government towards the fasting people, and insisted that their problem should be solved before their health conditions deteriorated in the coming days.

To this Vala replied that the government had already directed district collectors and DDOs to consider the applications of the earthquake-affected and if needed, they should survey the houses damaged in the calamity. Despite this, Congress members continued their attack on the government which sparked off heated exchanges between the BJP and Congress members.

Amidst an uproar, Vala said the agitation was politically motivated and the government would not succumb to such pressure. He added that the group, which was squatting at the staff training college, should have met him and narrated their grievances, and should not have gone to the Congress.

Vala's remarks added fuel to fire and the Congress members again sprang up on their feet to protest. The minister said the government has doubly checked whether the quake-affected people were paid assistance, and the records had revealed that the task had been completed in Maliya Miyana. The BJP MLA from Maliya supported Vala's reply.

Agitated congress members were pacified only when Vala said he would look into the matter if details were given to him by the those who were on fast. He said he would ask the collector of Rajkot district to see that they were paid compensation on the basis of the evidence.

Speaker Dhirubhai Shah pulled up Congress members Udesinh Baria and Naresh Rawal when they tried to show a memorandum they had received from the group. Shah said the minister had already given an assurance, and therefore there was no need for them to give him a copy. Rawal had alleged that the government's stance was discriminatory against Dalits and Muslims.

Death toll in quake: Despite widespread belief that the death toll in the earthquake would not cross the 13,000-mark and that the figures were inflated due to bogus and duplicate claims, Vala informed the Assembly that the death toll was 17,143, and ex-gratia had been paid in 12,494 cases. The highest number of deaths (15,553) have been reported from Kutch district alone, and around 11,000 families were given compensation. Ahmedabad city was second in the list with a death toll of 755, followed by 429 in Rajkot district.

Poor Central aid: In another written reply, the minister said the state government had sought aid of Rs 10,256 crore for the rehabilitation of earthquake-shattered areas, and a sum of Rs 1,974 crore to deal with the drought situation. The Centre had so far paid only Rs 413 crore towards earthquake rehabilitation, and Rs 212 crore for relief works in drought-affected areas.

Ten overdrafts: Vala told Shankarji Thakore that the state government had availed an overdraft from Reserve Bank of India 10 times in one year to manage state finances. The public debts of the state now stood at a whopping Rs 28,107 crore, he added.

Farmers' passbooks: The minister had to face wrath of the Opposition when he said that farmers' passbooks had been distributed in almost 92 per cent of the cases. The agitated members from Jamnagar and Junagadh alleged that farmers had not been given passbooks as was being claimed by the minister.

Vala said the farmers passbooks were distributed in 18 districts and assured that more would be distributed in the remaining seven districts shortly. Till date, more than 42 lakh passbooks have been distributed and the remaining three lakh would be distributed soon.

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


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Surat Darshan turns out a flop Thursday, August 2, 2001

THE TIMES OF INDIA NEWS SERVICE
SURAT: Seeing is believing but khoobsoorati (beauty) of Surat has no takers, if the poor response to 'Surat Darshan' by visitors to this city is any indication.

The 'Surat Darshan' exercise begun five years ago has been a flop due to the lack of vision on the part of corporation officials, as the 22-seater tourist bus has had no any guide all these years.

Sources in the SMC revealed that requests for a competent guide who could make the visit more interesting and informative for tourists, have been pending with authorities.

However, SMC officials said due to poor response the post of a guide was not sanctioned. A clerk, a driver and an attendant are all to its manpower.

When Surat Darshan began, there used to be daily trips but now they were reduced to weekends. Till recently it was twice a day on Saturdays and Sundays. But, for the past one month, excursions are conducted only on Sundays, officials said.

Citing the reason for lesser trips, sources said at times there could be just a couple of tourists. The sightseeing spots include indoor stadium, Swaminarayan temple, Govradhan temple, Dutch cemetery, Narmad Library, Badri-Kedar temple, museum and Paccighar and Kanteshwar mandir.

Lack of a policy on the corporation's part made Surat Darshan a failure, admitted a senior official. During vacations, schools could be approached for guided tours for school children. But, no publicity of any sort made it non-favourite among residents, too. Sometimes even a few who come, are persuaded not to take the trip.

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


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Employees urge restraint on power reforms Bill Thursday, August 2, 2001

By SHAILESH PANDYA, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: Doubting the intentions of the Gujarat government, the sangarsh samiti of the GEB employees unions and engineers association and national co-ordination committee of electricity employees and engineers who at Ambaji on Sunday, decided to adopt an aggressive approach to press for their demands.

They threatened an indefinite strike if the government tried to adopt power reforms bills in the assembly session.

National leaders Shailendra Dube, E Balanandan, N J Yagnik, J C Marathe, B S Patel, Baldev Rawal, V K Raulji, B M Acharya, B M Dodiya were among those who addressed the meeting that was attended by representatives from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Raising questions over the introduction of the power reform Bill in the assembly with an aim to trifurcate the GEB and set up a new commission, these leaders appealed to the Gujarat government not to make any haste in passing this Bill. It must realise what disastrous effect such Bills had in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and MP.

The uppermost question is: Will the power reforms Bill help in achieving the purpose? Was there was any debate or at least consultations with the GEB engineers and staff before its introduction in the assembly? Was Gujarat aware of the disastrous effect of Orissa experimental model that led to power tariff going up by 78 per cent.

The leaders alleged that the state government was going ahead with the scheme for private participation in the energy sector. These schemes are framed by foreign experts and Indian bureaucrats who were not well versed with power situation in the state.

According to them, the model tried in Orissa was disastrous and yielded negative results because of attitude of the private sector participants for making the power sector more remunerative to the participants than the consumers.

As the private distribution companies would be interested more in profit than in service , the tariff would go up.

As the progress in the past four years in the direction of privatisation was negative, a thorough thinking was vital, they contended.

It took ten years in the UK to privatise CEGB , anything done in hurry without proper rethinking may end in disaster, they recalled.

If the profit margins allowed to private companies are given to the GEB, then the GEB could for sure perform much better than the private company, they asserted.

They felt it would be impossible to provide cross subsidies to the agricultural and rural sectors due to the enormity of the area. The farming sector would be crippled, it was feared.

The government should enlist the services of power engineers and power workers in the reform and restructuring.

These leaders suggested a path of restraint for five years and watch the performance and effects of private distribution companies in other states and only after that decide on the issue. They cited how the Enron power project functioned in Maharashtra damaging the interest of the consumers.

Resolutions demanding review of power purchase agreements with the independent power producers, police protection for GEB staff, steps to reduce T & D losses, stoppage of political interference in the functioning of GEB, sending telegrams to the chief minister to withhold the Bill were passed.

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


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