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July 28, 2001 - July 29, 2001

Gujarat slashes expenditure on quake relief Sunday, July 29, 2001

By Ashraf Sayed, Indo-Asian News Service
Gandhinagar, July 27 (IANS) The Gujarat government has slashed expenditure on resettlement and rehabilitation of the quake-hit people of the state from Rs. 207.68 billion to Rs. 110 billion.

A resource crunch following two consecutive years of drought and a steep drop in revenue is believed to be reason for this cut, sources in the state government said. The financial crunch also prompted Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala to present a revised budget for fiscal 2001-02 Thursday.

The revised budget of Rs. 394.66 billion leaves a revenue deficit of Rs. 2.92 billion, Vala informed the state Assembly.

An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale had hit Gujarat January 26, killing about 25,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. The border district of Kutch and the state's principal city of Ahmedabad bore the brunt of the devastation while some northern districts and Saurashtra region were also badly affected.

Vala said that the World Bank had sanctioned an emergency loan of $400 million (approximately Rs. 18.86 billion) and the Asian Development Bank would be advancing $500 million (approx Rs. 23.58 billion) for quake relief measures. In addition, the World Bank would be disbursing $600 million (approx Rs. 28.29 billion) in the second phase to supplement the rehabilitation measures of the state government.

Vala said that the state government was planning to raise Rs. 7 billion by issuing tax free bonds and would be getting a grant of Rs. 13 billion from the Central government from the 2 percent surcharge that has been imposed on income-tax payees to fund the quake relief efforts.

Tea, milk products, jam, pulp, bamboo, diesel, stoneware and tiles will become costlier in the state as the budget proposes to increase sales tax on these items to mobilize a additional Rs. 1.1 billion.

The minister also announced the introduction of an "entry tax" on motor vehicles, cement, marble, naphtha and diesel to "protect the revenue of the state."

Vala claimed that despite the two successive droughts and the devastating earthquake, the state government had refrained from levying any fresh taxes and had tried to mobilize resources by fixing "floor rates in totality" for certain commodities.
Source - Indo-Asian News Service

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Syndicate members hold emergency meet Saturday, July 28, 2001

Ahmedabad, July 27: The Gujarat University on Friday held an emergency meeting of its syndicate members to discuss the process of granting affiliation to 21 new self-financed BBA, B.Sc., B.Com colleges in the current academic session. The members unanimously agreed to refer the self-financed college applicants back to the university need committee so that the process of affiliation is undertaken as per Gujarat University resolutions.

According to a senior syndicate member, the executive committee has accepted the decision of the academic council of the university to refer the 21 proposed self-financed colleges in the offing to the need committee. The need committee is likely to undertake the need assessment of the colleges concerned shortly so that the academic session at these colleges is not delayed further.

“It is unanimosly resolved that the matter be referred to the need committee to seek the opinion on the matter pertaining to the need of the locality in respect of each of the applications of affiliations for starting new colleges,” informed the Gujarat University resolution passed by the executive council on Friday.

Talking to the media earlier during the day, executive committee member Narhari Amin¸ who had taken the Gujarat University to the court for granting affiliation to all these colleges without following university resolution, remarked, “Since the need committee would undertake the process once again, the process would hopefully be transparent.”

Amin who had accused the Gujarat University authorities concerned for making haste in granting affiliation to the 21 degree colleges, said, “The need committee have been instructed to assess the proposals thoroughly, visit the site of these colleges, ensure that the trust or management names are not bogus, and whether the applicant is financially strong to sustain the infrastructural facilities of the colleges in future, among others.”

Commenting on the need of the self-financed colleges under the Gujarat University, Amin said, “During the last academic year, as many as 15,000 BCA applications were sold out of which 8,200 filled the forms for 1,060 BCA seats across ten BCA colleges affiliated to the Gujarat University. The cut off percentage for admission to the course was 76 per cent. After the DDIT¸ Nadiad was accorded the status of deemed university, the number of BCA seats with the university stood at 960. This year while 3,200 forms sold out, 2,652 students filled the forms for the 912 seats, while the rest would go to non-resident Indian students. The cut off was 61 per cent, and adding self-financed BCA courses would not have helped the cause because the cut off percentage of marks would have fell further more and deteriorated the quality of graduating students.”

“While the Gujarat Secondary Education Board ensured that the academic session of students is not disturbed after the earthquake and promptly declared the SSCE and HSCE results, the ministry of higher and technical education has been too inconsiderate about college admissions. Despite the need of granted colleges in the state, especially for the underprivileged students, the state government is unwilling to open granted divisions,” he remarked.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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Bhatt alleges Rs 5cr misplaced by AMC Saturday, July 28, 2001

By Our Correspondent, AsianAge
Ahmedabad, July 27: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation did not transfer Rs 5 crore given by the state government for the reconstruction of schools to the school board, alleged former Bhartiya Janata Party minister, Mr Ashok Bhatt in the legislative assembly. “This resulted in the death of a ten-year-old kid in Bapunagar, who was killed when a damaged wall of the school fell on him,” said Mr Bhatt.

This is in tune with what the rebel Congress leader and chairman of the AMC school board Ganpat Parmar usually complained. Reacting to this statement made by the BJP leader in the legislative assembly, he said, “I have not received any money from the state government. I have not seen anything close to rupees five crore that was received from the state government. Everything is handled by the municipal commissioner. I don’t have any significant powers, so where does the question of utilising the money comes?”

Refuting charges of mismanagment of funds, mayor, Himmatsingh Patel told The Asian Age, “The municipal commissioner is close to the BJP and even the school board chairman is elected with the BJP’s support, then where does the question of our involvement comes?.” He said that the money should have been given to the mayor’s fund so that it could have been utilised in a more appropriate manner.

Meanwhile, BJP leader in the corporation, Dharmendra Shah said that the money was already sanctioned to the corporation, but the work could not be started because of the inefficiency of Congress. “It has not given any attention to the reconstruction of the damaged schools. Money provided by the state government was also not utilised,” Mr Shah said.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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Ragging, donation issues: All debate, no resolution Saturday, July 28, 2001

Gandhinagar, July 27: The state government has taken action against schools that have sought to collect funds from students under some pretext or other, and have annulled grants of atleast 8 educational institutions, Anandi Patel, education minister, told the state Assembly on Friday.

Replying to a private member bill seeking a stringent check on donations or money collections made by educational institutions, she said action has been taken against errant schools in the city like Mt Carmel high school, Trinity High School that were demanding donations, M.P. Thakker high school, B.R.Patel Nutan Fellowship high school, Anupam high school in Vadodara, St Joseph high school in Valsad, Navrang high school in Pairej, Annapurna Vidhyalay, Tapovan Vidhyalay and St. Joseph high school in Junaghad.

The state government has also issued a government resolution stopping schools from increasing fees by more than 10 per cent without the permission of state government.

She was participating in a proposal for a private bill to control admissions on donation base and seeking transparency in self-finance colleges by Congress MLA, Naresh Rawal. Stressing on a need for a transparent mechanism for the way admissions are given and also the way the institutions get the permission to accept money to give admissions, he said, “We welcome the concept of self finance institutions, but government’s policy of granting permission for starting institutions should be transparent.”
Moving a private bill to seek a ban on ragging and penalise those perpetuating it, BJP MLA, Maya Kodnani said that ragging is a big blemish to the education scene, a strong law will go a long way to erase the menace. The private bill proposed three year’s jail sentence and maximum of a fine of Rs 10,000 and suspension of the culprit.

It also proposed action against the head of the educational institution if the steps are not taken against the culprit. Supporting the need for the action to support the bill, Dr Mahendra Patel of BJP said that the grant of such institutions should be suspended if the problem of ragging is persistent.

Participating in the discussion on the bill, BJP MLA Dr Kankania said the need of the hour was also to raise awareness in the students, parents and institutions to stop ragging. The minister for higher and technical education, Mr Bharat Barot said that while ragging should not be ignored, it was not a major problem.

As the state is opening up more seats and getting more students from other states, the problem is going to be more acute. “The state government has held a conference on this issue and a special committee including three vice-chancellors has submitted a report on this issue.” he said. Both the bills were later on withdrawn.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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Cabinet yet to give nod to 2-child norm Saturday, July 28, 2001

By Our Correspondent, AsianAge
Gandhinagar, July 27: Industries minister Suresh Mehta said on Friday that the state Cabinet is yet to discuss the two child norm and that the report of the Cabinet sub-committee headed by him is still under the consideration.

He said that it might not be possible to table the report for discussion at a Cabinet meeting until the end of the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha. Refuting reports that the Cabinet has approved the two-child norm report prepared by the Cabinet sub-committee, Mr Mehta said, “We are still inviting suggestions and opinions to plug all loopholes in the Act,” Mr Mehta said.

Responding to criticism of the state government’s plan to legislate the two-child norm Mr Mehta said these experts are opinionating without looking at the report. When asked whether the report would be along the lines of that under consideration of the Centre Mr Mehta said the report would follow the guidelines of the Centre on two child norm but indicated it will have a separate identity.

Meanwhile, responding on the 33 cases of partial blindness, after being administered eye drops at the Hargovinddas Prabhudas Sadvichar Parivar Eye Hospital Mr Mehta said that the findings should be ready within a week. On Thursday, 33 people lost partial vision after being administered eye-drops of Wockhardt pharmaceutical.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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