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July 21, 2001 - July 22, 2001

GACL holds sales conference Sunday, July 22, 2001

VADODARA: A national sales conference cum seminar on Hydrogen Peroxide was organised here by the Gujarat Alkalies & Chemicals Ltd, Vadodara, which commands approximately 35 per cent all-India market share of the chemical. The conference was attended by 150 representatives from leading users across the country.

Inaugurating the day-long seminar, GACL managing director A K Luke said that after commissioning the plant in 1996, the capacity utilisation in 1997-98 was 35 per cent producing 4,000 tonnes, which has now reached 100 per cent capacity utilisation at 12,000 tonnes. "The support given by the market prompted us to go in for a further 15 per cent expansion on January 25, 2001 and the plant is presently running at full capacity utilisation," Luke said.

The technology for manufacturing hydrogen peroxide was not easily available. The manufacture process was obtained from Uhde, GmbH (Germany) which is a renowned technology supplier for various processes. The plant was commissioned in 1996. Hydrogen peroxide finds application in various industries like petrochemicals for pollution control, textile, pulp and paper, wood, effluent treatment, disinfectant, anti-septic and preservants, hair care preparations, mining, metal treatment, bleaching and miscellaneous uses.

"We are meeting at a time of recession in the industry, but even in difficult conditions there are companies which come up," said Luke adding that strong customer focus was the reason why GACL was doing well. The turnover had doubled in the last three years, a period of recession.

The meet was also attended and addressed by consultant to GACL R Parthasarathy, besides specialists in hydrogen peroxide from GACL as well as industry users and R&D houses.

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

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Police seek training in economic offences handling Sunday, July 22, 2001

VADODARA: The Madhavpura and Classic bank scams in Gujarat have surely come as a wake-up call for the state police. Faced with a spate of economic offences, especially in the banking sector, Gujarat Police has now tied up with two leading financial institutions to train the local police on the finer details of finance to help them in investigations in future.

Senior police officers in five districts - Ahmedabad, Junagadh, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara - will be given exposure to various banking offences and the modus operandi employed to pull off scams. Officers above the rank of deputy superintendent of police (DySP) will attend one-day seminars to be conducted by ICICI. In the later phase of the training, officers below the rank of Dy SP will be covered.

A panel of experts from ICICI Mumbai will conduct the first phase of the seminar. State Bank of India has also shown willingness to spare its experts to train the police, and is expected to take responsibility of the second phase of training.

"It has been noticed that even senior police officers are at sea while tackling economic offences. Of late, crimes of financial nature have been on the rise, and it is imperative that our men get the expertise in dealing with such offences," Additional Director General of Police (training) S S Khadwavala told The Times of India.

He said senior police officers in five districts would be educated in seminars dedicated exclusively to banking scams. The first in the series will be held at Vadodara on July 28. Interestingly, the number of economic crimes in all major cities of Gujarat has increased in last two years.

"These seminars will also cover a part of cyber crime," Khandvawala added. He said henceforth handling financial scams would form a part of police training. So far, police training did not include education on economic offences.

The seminars which ICICI is to conduct will primarily focus on credit card frauds, property, home, consumer durable and car loan scams. "There will be in-depth presentations by experts. They will give a briefing on how these scams are masterminded and how technical procedures are misused," said ICICI manager and seminar co-ordinator for Vadodara Lakhprit Singh. ICICI has conducted a similar exercise for police in Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi.

"We must accept that our knowledge on financial offences is very limited. If we are striving for pro-active policing, we cannot afford to ignore such a crucial section of modern-age crime," Vadodara district superintendent of police Keshav Kumar said.
Incidentally, the district police here had faced difficulties in tackling Rs 1 crore small savings scam by a retired schoolteacher in Jarod a fortnight ago.

"Economic offences are technical in nature, and it is important that the police officer investigating has adequate knowledge of the subject," Police Commissioner J Mahapatra said. The city police has set up an economic offence wing in the detection of crime branch, and spared a police inspector for the job. Mahapatra said without exposure to the subject and proper training, police are inadequate in dealing with economic offences.

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

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Seized liquor mostly fake; to be dumped Sunday, July 22, 2001

AHMEDABAD: This can be termed as a cardinal's sin in the eyes of a drunkard. In the last three years, enforcement authorities have seized liquor worth Rs 110 crore and all of it will be destroyed, if it hasn't been already, in this only 'dry' state in the country.

The state prohibition department alone seized liquor worth Rs 23 crore last year and the in the first six months of this year, it has seized liquor worth Rs 18 crore. But all these efforts and exercise would go down the drain - literally. All the seized bottles will be emptied in pits dug by the department in presence of the senior police and prohibition officials once the case filed in connection with the seizures are disposed of by a court.

The authorities have no option, in Gujarat. Seizures in the past have shown most of the labelled brands intercepted by the prohibition or the police departments were 'fakes'.

According to Prohibition Commissioner S K Saikia, "When we tried to trace back the source of the consignments, we found that most of the brands were actually fake." He said investigating officers in several occasions tried to trace the route of the consignment using batch numbers with the help the manufacturing companies or distilleries.

On most occasions, manufacturers said products with particular batch numbers were never processed in their distilleries. "Some of them are the popular brands which were consumed in the state regularly," Saikia said. He said, "because of the doubts in wake of past experiences, we cannot certify the genuineness of the seizure, and liquor shops will not buy unless certified. However, officials suspect that companies try to avoid owning up seized liquor as in many cases they haven't paid excise duty on the consignment."

But Saikia admitted that the seizures were even less than 10 per cent of the total amount of liquor circulating in the state regularly. "With a large quantity of this circulating illegally in the market, it's really very risky as to what quality of liquor the people in the states consume."

According to officials of the prohibition department, the basic source of these liquors in the state are the border districts of Rajasthan, like Vanswada, Sirohi. "Contracts for the liquor shops in these border districts are awarded at exorbitant rates which sometimes cross several crores of rupees", said an officers of the department.

If the liquor sales of these bordering districts is compared with its population, it would suggest that more 50 per cent of the people, including men women and children consume more than 3-4 litres of liquor every day. Which is of course not possible. "The district consumption is just 20 per cent of that, the remaining portion comes into Gujarat through various ways," he adds.

Admitting the facts to a certain extent , Saikia said "as far as our department is concerned, we have to work on intelligence as its not possible to keep check on every vehicle that moves into the state. He said the department just has about 1100 sleuths, all officials on deputation from the police. The sanctioned strength is, however, 1800.

Saikia said the department was annually spending Rs 83 crore towards anti-liquor drives, whereby it has influenced a large section of the rural population to avoid it. "Liquor is a form of entertainment in villages, we are spending to offer them alternatives," he said.

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

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Municipal schools to restart in 70 buildings Sunday, July 22, 2001

AHMEDABAD: After an unusually long break that stretched from January 26, academic activities in 70 municipal school buildings is all set to restart from Monday.

After a series of mishaps that included a school building collapse in Maninagar and a student's death in Meghaninagar, reopening of municipal schools was delayed as it got entangled in a power struggle between the elected members of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's school board committee and the administrative wing.

Matters, however, seem to have been temporarily resolved with the administrative wing handing over structural-safety certificates on Monday to the chairman of municipal school board, Ganpat Parmar.

"On Monday a total of 70 buildings housing municipal schools will be back in operation, bringing 30 to 40 per cent of schools back into operation after the schools had closed on June 14, after just three days of classes. The rest of the school buildings will be ready for use by August 15," said Vinay Vyasa, deputy municipal commissioner put in charge soon after the delay on repair work on municipal schools became a controversy.

With major repair work required in nearly 100 other school buildings, the contractors employed by the corporation are running against time to complete the job by the specified deadline. A total of 17 dangerous school buildings have been pulled down by the AMC. "Reputed structural engineers will inspect the work after it is completed and make their opinion known to us in black and white," said Vyasa.

On June 14, the municipal schools closed down after a school in Maninagar collapsed. The schools were slated to reopen on June 26 but on the very day, a student was crushed to death when a Meghaninagar-based municipal school's wall collapsed. Once again, the schools were collapsed and the municipal commissioner, K Kailashnathan, declared that the schools would open on June 30.

Blaming Kailashnathan of high-handedness and alleging infringement on municipal school board's arena, the chairman of the board put off reopening of municipal schools "till the administration supplies us with structural-safety certificates for the school buildings." The move was more in retaliation of the commissioner's move to announce reopening of schools on June 30 without consulting. Now, while repair work is continuing at the 100 damaged school buildings, a war-footing quarrel between the elected members of municipal school board committee and the administrative wing looks to turn into a battle for supremacy.

Chairman of AMC's school board, Ganpat Parmar, on July 13 shot a letter to the municipal commissioner, K. Kailashnathan, preventing Vyasa from attending a routine committee meeting. The letter was in retaliation to Kailashnathan's recent letter to Parmar that said that Vyasa was being put in charge of looking after municipal school affairs.

"The commissioner had insinuated that Vyasa will attend all committee meetings of the school board. However, this board is an independent body and is not governed by the BPMC act. My letter preventing Vyasa's attendance is justified and within law," said Parmar.

Sources in the corporation, however, pointed out that Parmar's letter could have a far reaching impact, effecting the functioning of school board. "The unfortunate tiff is being blown out of proportion and could effect the already damaged educational system," said an AMC official.

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

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Meet called to incorporate changes in policy Saturday, July 21, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: In a move to come up with a law to enforce the two-child norm in the coming state assembly session starting on July 26, the Gujarat government decided here on Thursday to change the basic tenets of the 'Population Policy of Gujarat: Final Draft', at a top-level meeting to be held on Monday.
Senior minister Suresh Mehta, who holds the temporary charge of health and family welfare department, has called a meeting of top government bureaucrats including Chief Secretary G Subba Rao to bring the draft in line with the idea of two-child norm.
Elaborating, a senior minister requesting anonymity, said, "The state's services for subsidised health care, primary education, ration at fair price shops etc. are limited. Those who cannot bear the responsibility of adopting the two-child norm would not be provided the services for the third child. For instance, the third child would not be able to avail of free primary education. Or, the parents with more than two children would not be allowed to fight panchayat polls."
Meanwhile, the Central government has told the Gujarat government to first implement the Central Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act, banning female feoticide before introducing any kind of population control norms. "The matter came up at a discussion of ministry of health and family welfare officials with our bureaucrats," the source said. "The Central population policy does not speak of incentives or disincentives for population control. But we will not follow that, as the matter comes under state purview."

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

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