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July 19, 2001 - July 19, 2001

Silver corridor faces hazy future Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Rajiv Shah, The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat BJP rulers' hype around the development of Saurashtra calling its southern coastline a 'silver corridor', on line with the 'golden corridor' from Mehsana in north Gujarat to Vapi in south Gujarat, is beginning to peter out.

Latest projections made by the state officialdom suggest that two major infrastructure sectors, ports and roads, are unlikely to develop in south Saurashtra despite chief minister Keshubhai Patel's policy of giving it the required support to end backwardness.

A top-level officially-sponsored report submitted by the Netherlands Economic Institute and the Rotterdam Port Authority has ruled out the possibility of the development of south Saurashtra coastline as fast as coast along the Gulf of Kutch and south Gujarat. Based on an international assessment of the traffic at different ports of Gujarat, the report calls the southern Saurashtra a 'dark' area in view of its lack of accessibility with the rest of India compared to the ports in the Gulf of Kutch and south Gujarat.

In its projections for the next 15 years, it believes that the ports in the Gulf of Kutch - Mundra, Sikka, Positra, Vadinar - would develop the fastest, followed by the ports along south Gujarat coast, Maroli, Dahej and Hazira. The only port on the south Saurashtra coastline considered a possible area of development is Pipavav, which , however, is listed as one of the last two among 10 ports for which the assessment has been made.

The traffic projections in the Gulf of Kutch are - Sikka 53 million tonnes, Vadinar 55 million tonnes, Mundra 45 million tonnes and Kandla 26 million tonnes. The projections for south Gujarat sea coast are - Maroli 20.3 million tonnes, Dahej 13 million tonnes, and Hazira 11.5 million tonnes. As for Pipavav, its projection is 10.4 million tonnes, followed finally by Mul Dwarka with 4.5 million tonnes.

The report warns, however, Kandla may be hindered by draft problems, the development of Positra may be held back because of environmental problems, and Pipavav has trans-shipment problems because of its geographical location. It believes, Maroli, despite the controversy surrounding its development, 'could be an advantage' in view of its proximity to Mumbai. The excess traffic of Mumbai can always be directed to Maroli, situated on the southern tip of Gujarat.

The projections are backed by the official projections on road traffic, which should provide the main infrastructure for the ports' development . Pipavav or other ports on south Saurashtra coast are unlikely to have good direct access by road for quite some time.

The proposal to develop a coastal national highway of 665 km from Malia and Jamnagar to Bhavnagar via Okha, Porbandar and Diu could get Central nod for only 260 km. Here, too, unlike the Ahmedabad-Mumbai highway which has been mostly converted into four-lane, the Centre has allotted a mere Rs 4 crore to develop 46 km of road.

"There is no proposal to convert the Saurashtra coastal highway into four-lane", said a senior official. "The virgin land of Saurashtra has a traffic of 8,000 to 10,000 passenger car unit (PCU) along the coast, compared to a huge 1,25,000 PCU on the golden corridor. The only patch where the traffic in Saurashtra is relatively high is near Jamnagar because of the Reliance refinery - 18,000 PCU", the official emphasised, adding, "Only when port-related industries develop in the area would things look up".

Industrial development in Saurashtra is not matching plans for ports development there. Apart from the Reliance refinery near Jamnagar, Saurashtra has failed to attract any major investment. An industries commissionerate source says, in 2000, only two Saurashtra districts - Amreli and Bhavnagar - figured in the list of nine districts attracting better investment. They got 13 projects each, compared to 42 by Jamnagar, 51 Kutch, 194 Bharuch, 253 Surat, 280 Vadodara, 243 Valsad, and 224 Ahmedabad.

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

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26,000 applications for quake aid gather dust Thursday, July 19, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT: Even six months after the killer quake razed the dreams of thousands of people in the Morbi area, as many as 26,000 applications for aid was still gathering dust at the Morbi mamlatdar's office.

Top sources in the mamlatdar office told this correspondent that of these 14,000 were from the urban areas while the remaining 12,000 were from the rural areas.

Poor people who were depending on the aid to rebuilt their houses were left in the lurch by the bureaucracy. It was also pointed out that the officials at the Morbi mamlatdar's office were playing the passing the buck.

These people were made to run from pillar to post and everytime a new date was given to come and inquire about the fate of their applications. As it is nature has played a cruel joke on these people and to rub salt on their wounds the engineers of the Narmada project had done below average survey of the money they are entitled. Most of the people who had lost their complete house have been sanctioned just Rs 5,000 to 7,000.

All plea to have their houses resurveyed have also been lying unattended and daily meetings are held at the mamlatdar's office and also at the district collector here yet the outcome was zero and not a single person has been paid the money.

The additional collector in charge of Morbi Capt. Narendrasinh Shinde told the convenor of the Gurujan Sangh Pravin Vyas that the process of disposing off the quake aid application would start soon and the office has asked for more staff to complete the work. He said that to begin with those houses which have so far not been surveyed would be taken up after which the work of resurvey would be undertaken.

On the issue of paying cash doles, the additional collector said that though the government had decided not to pay any cash dole, the mamlatdar's office would once again represent the case and try to get the payment of cash doles sanctioned. He also admitted of slow progress on the aid front but defended by saying that there was shortage of staff which had hampered the work.

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

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PIL seeking Sabarmati bypoll Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Legal Correspondent, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat High Court has issued notices to chief secretary and chief election commissioner of Gujarat, following a public interest litigation challenging the state for not declaring by-elections to the Sabarmati assembly constituency.

The notices were issued by a division Bench comprising Chief Justice DM Dharmadhikari and Justice KR Vyas following a PIL moved by Yogesh Patel, challenging the "utmost illegal and malafide action of the state".

The petition sought an order from the court on the state government to immediately hold the by-elections to this constituency.It was submitted by the petitioner that the Sabarmati assembly constituency had fallen vacant since September 7, 2000, due to resignation of the then assembly member Yatin Oza. Since then, the people of the constituency remained 'unrepresented' in the state assembly.

According to the petitioner, the date for Sabarmati by-elections was declared in January. The elections were to be held on February 19, 2001. But due to the earthquake on January 26, 2001, the elections could not be held and thereafter the state government has not taken any action for holding the by-elections.

It was also submitted that the state government did not request the election commission to hold the by-elections because the ruling BJP suffered a huge defeat in the last elections here to the municipal corporation, district panchayat and the taluka panchayat.

The petitioner further submitted that as a result of this inaction and lethargic approach on the part of the state government, the people of the Sabarmati constituency are facing innumerable problems. At present, they do not have any person who can voice their grievances and the hardship which they are facing in absence of an elected representative, he said.

Patel also contended that in the absence of any elected representative, the Rs 25 lakh-worth developmental fund for the Sabarmati area will not be utilised.

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

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SPU to sign pact on tech transfer Thursday, July 19, 2001

The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR: Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Nottingham University and Puri Foundation will sign an agreement on technology transfer for higher education in bio-technology on Thursday.

This was disclosed to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel by the vice-chancellor of Nottingham University Colin Campbel and the chairman of the UK-based Puri Foundation, Nutpuri.

Under the agreement, 100 students from Gujarat would get scholarship for the biotechnology courses at Nottingham University. The Puri Foundation is setting up an Institute of Biotechnology Advance Research and Development at Coba, about 10 km from here, in collaboration with the Gujarat Agriculture University, which will pave the way for implementation of the project for Biotech Education Transfer.

Present on the occasion were industries minister Suresh Mehta, finance minister Vajubhai Vala, minister of state for agriculture Becharbhai Bhadani, I T minister Bimalbhai Shah, advisors to the chief minister N V Vasani and S K Shelat, and chancellors of Sardar Patel University and Gujarat Agriculture University.

Nutpuri said the biotechnology institute of Puri Foundation, on a sprawling 57 hectares of land allotted by the state government, would become operational at Coba within a year. The institute will impart higher education in pharmaceutical and agricultural disciplines - the two vital fields in biotechnology - and will also carry out research work.

About 100 students from the Sardar Patel University and Gujarat Agriculture University will be imparted necessary training for biotechnology transfer and for research purpose.

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

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RBI to take steps against soiled notes in new areas Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Since the last one month, the Reserve Bank of India, Ahmedabad office has embarked on the second phase of its drive, which was started in the year 2000, to suck out the soiled/mutilated currency notes of Re 1, Rs 2 and Rs 5 denominations from all parts of the state.

The drive is already under way in Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Vadodara. Other centres such as Bhuj, Deesa, Gandhidham, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Surat, etc. would be taken up very shortly. The Reserve Bank has stepped up remittances of coins to the various towns in Gujarat which are facing the problem of such notes. The public sector banks have also been strongly urged to rise to the occasion anid provide exchange facilities to the members of public at all their branches. A letter has been addressed by the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank in this connection to the chairmen of the concerned public sector banks.

It may be recalled that last year a similar drive had been launched by the Reserve Bank to eradicate the menace of soiled/mutilated notes in various cities.This drive had a big impact in several places, particularly at Ahmedabad, where notes packed in plastic packets are no longer accepted and have disappeared.

The RBI said in a statement that members of public in regions where soiled/mutilated notes are still in circulaiton are advised to remove them from the plastic pouches and tender them for exchange at the counters/mobile counters of public sector banks after pasting the torn portion with the help of cello tape, gum tape,etc. Further it is necessary that people stop using and accepting these kinds of notes. The Reserve Bank said it is sending remittances of sufficient quantities of coins to various places and its expected that by the end of the month banks in allsuch centres owuld have sufficinet stock of cons for providing exchange facilities.

The RBI also refered to media reports of agitations at a few centres in protest against such notes in circulation. It clarified that the Reserve Bank is closely monitoring the drive and is hopeful that within a few months the entire state would be cleared of the soiled/mutilated notes. "There is no need for any organisation to resort to any sort of agitation on this account since the Reserve Bank, Ahmedabad Office is determined to solve the problem with the cooperation of the public and the banks", a spokesman for RBI said.

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

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