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August 1, 2001 - August 1, 2001

JAMNAGAR:::: Polish aid for Jamnagar water supply project Wednesday, August 1, 2001

The Times of India News Service
JAMNAGAR: Poland is indebted to Jamnagar as nearly 800 orphaned Polish kids were given shelter during the Second World War by the then ruler of Nawanagar Digvijaysinhji. They were lodged at a special camp here for a long time.

Those who returned to Poland after the war and got accustomed to their society are old now. Yet they could not forget Jamnagar and were eager to contribute for the welfare of Jamnagar.

They have formed a voluntary organisation Caricas - Polaska and have decided to help Jamnagar by providing water facilities.

Ambassador of Poland in India Jan Kriyszpos Mroliewicz along with two Caricas-Polaska members visited Jamnagar and contributed Rs. 2.40 crore for construction of ESR (water tank) for the municipal corporation to provide water to those areas which are not getting water on uniform basis.

During the visit, the delegation discussed the matter with civic officials and fixed the construction contract with an Ahmedabad firm.

The Polish ambassador said the payment for the work will be made in rupees through their embassy while the supervision will be entrusted to the civic body. An agreement in this regard has been finalised.

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


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Court orders stay on appointment of dean Wednesday, August 1, 2001

VADODARA: The series of litigation and stays against M S University continues with the Vadodara sessions court ordering yet another order of "maintenance of status quo" here on Saturday against the proposal to appoint Prof Veena Gandotra as dean of the faculty of home science.

The order issued by Vadodara civil judge Raval comes in the wake of a petition filed by Dr Rachel George of the faculty of home science. The MSU syndicate members were proposing in their meeting to appoint Prof Veena Gandotra as faculty of home science dean.

According to George, this proposal was not in keeping with MSU norms, as it did not take into account the seniority and educational qualifications of other faculty members.

Narendra Tiwari, one of the lawyers fighting the case, said the syndicate members who proposed the name of Gandotra have not taken into account her educational qualifications and seniority with respect to her colleagues many of who are senior to her and better qualified for the post.

He argues that the MSU authorities had taken several such autocratic decisions that in addition to being dictatorial are illegal. He said as per the rules decisions of appointing a dean should be taken on the basis of merit of the candidate.

He also said the university rules also do not allow MSU to appoint a retired person as the officiating dean in the faculty. But despite this, even after her retirement, Anupama Shah has continued as "officiating dean", thereby flouting the MSU norms.

He also said though the university is an autonomous body, it cannot be allowed to function autocratically, and therefore in case of discrepancies the court has to intervene in the functioning.

According to Tiwari, the stay on appointment of Gandotra would continue until the case is resolved.

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


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Rail passenger fined Wednesday, August 1, 2001

VADODARA: Railway vigilance team prosecuted Himmat Chhotalal Mistry for fraudulently travelling on Karnavati Express, indulging in obscene behaviour and abusing fellow passengers.

Mistry was prosecuted under section 137 and 145/B of the Railway Act in the court of railway judicial magistrate (first class) Godhra camp at Bharuch. It fined Mistry Rs.880.

Railway authorities have advised passengers to co-operate with the ticket checking staff. Monthly season ticket holders should not board restricted trains, they added.

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


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New multiplex is sound business Wednesday, August 1, 2001

A STAFF REPORTER, THE TIMES OF INDIA NEWS SERVICE
AHMEDABAD: On the face of it, E-City Entertainment (I) Pvt Limited's Fun Republic in Ahmedabad may seem like yet another extravagant project on the lines of Crossroads in Mumbai, which left its tenants high on snob-value but low on returns. But a bit of number crunching splits open a sound revenue model that lies beneath the ambition extravaganza (again a deception) by the Essel Group.

According to E-City Entertainment (I) Pvt Limited president and CEO Sanjay Das the company was able to bring down the capital cost of the project by almost 25 per cent with the huge discount on its bulk purchase of building equipment like escalators, elevators, lighting and fitting which were used in the construction of the building.

Considering the scale of investment, 25 per cent saving on the capital cost would work out to a huge sum. According to Das, in the first phase the company is planning multiplexes in 14 centres of the country. So with four escalators being used at each centre, it would be using 56 escalators, which is bulk consumption by any single buyer.

According to market sources, at the cost of Rs 35 lakh each, the 56 escalators would cost around Rs 19.60 crore. But with a 25 per cent discount on them, the company spendings on escalator must have come down by Rs 4.50 crore, a huge saving.

The company has marked an investment of Rs 325 crore for its 14 multiplexes, and is expecting a return of Rs 40 crore from its Ahmedabad centre itself with a general rate of return of 25 per cent and its pay-back period would be four to five years.

E-City Entertainment (I) Pvt Limited chief officer-finance Sanjay Kabra says even though the six cineplexes would be the main draw of the Fun Republic, the company would be finally relying on retailing to contribute around 50 per cent of its total revenue.

Of the total constructed area of 1.5 lakh sq feet, Kabra says retail counters - which would be driven by some franchisee model - cover around 40,000 sq feet.

The six fast-food outlets - Indiyum (their own joint), Vadilal, Upper Crust, Colour of Spice, Dominos and Sukh Sagar - at its food court called Food Federation would be run by the franchisee on a revenue-sharing basis. Their share of revenue from these food outlets would be anywhere between 15 per cent to 30 per cent.

Starz and DeThale, the two fine-dine restaurants on the third floor, are again expected to offer good returns. But its Hours, a departmental store with a wide range of brands in garments and accessories, which is expected to bring huge returns.

"After a two-month market research, we found that Ahmedabad has around one million people in the middle and high-income group. We are targeting these. The per family spending on entertainment including movies, restaurants, video games, garments, accessories, books and music ranges between Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 per year. This ensures a decent annual return for us from the retailing business at the Fun Republic," say Kabra.

Again, what is strongly supporting this revenue model is the five-year tax holiday given by the Gujarat government under the incentives provided in its tourism policy to promote investment in this sector. "This is major relief as entertainment tax ranges between 60 per cent to 100 per cent in different parts of the country, and will help us achieve early break-even for the project," says Das.

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


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Should VMC take over city bus services Wednesday, August 1, 2001

VADODARA: Should Vadodara Municipal Corporation take over city bus services?

Ever since the first bus was run in the city by GSRTC way back 1960, there was talk that soon the VMC would take over. That 'soon' has still not arrived.

Though public transport is the responsibility of city municipal corporation as per the Bombay Municipality Act, in Vadodara the VMC seems to be in no mood to get into public transport services.

Five decades of debate on whether GSRTC or VMC is responsible for public transportation has not yield any result. Albeit, it has thrown a third option of letting a private party provide public transport in city.

Last week, Baroda Tours and Travels Association (BTTA) Trust had approached VMC and said that it was ready to run city bus service. "We have 350 buses, adequate manpower and experience. We are ready to run mini-buses in traffic areas in the city and luxury buses on the periphery on long routes. We are ready to run this service according to state government's rules and abide by their norms," said BTTA president and vice-president Chirag Sheikh and Kaushik Patel. They, however, blamed the VMC and GSRTC saying both were wilfully denying better services to the people of Vadodara.

The BTTA had approached VMC and the state transport ministry earlier in 1987, 1990, 1997 and on July 19 this year. However, there has been no reply to its proposal.

City Mayor Bharti Vyas when approached denied to comment on the issue. "I have not gone through the proposal. I don't know much about it. I cannot talk about it at present, may be after 10 days," Vyas responded to a query from TOI.

GSRTC Vadodara divisional controller J C Shah too denied to comment. "It's a policy issue and is taken up at Gandhinagar level," Shah said.

GSRTC employees' union, however, is opposed to the privatisation move. Says ST Employees Union, an INTUC body, general secretary Manoj Joshi: "Public transport is a social liability. If it goes to private operators the 'social liability' aspect will be forgotten. For private operators their supreme interest would be business generated from public transport and not public."
Joshi said instead of handing over city bus services to private operators, the VMC, the GSRTC and the state government should take combined responsibility of public transport.

STATISTICS

GSRTC has 138 buses which it runs in two schedule on 960 routes in city. The buses are divided in three depots: Panigate (61), Makarpura (55), Race Course(22). In two years, the number of buses pressed into service in city have come down from 155 to 138. GSRTC's operational target is to cover a distance of 25,000 km. Its daily income is Rs 2.25 to Rs 2.50 lakh daily which is considered poor. It is alleged that GSRTC is making a loss of Rs 13 per km.\

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


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