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July 19, 2001 - July 19, 2001

GEB nets record monthly revenue of Rs 682 cr in May Thursday, July 19, 2001

The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: By collecting the highest monthly revenue of Rs 682 crores in May, the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) has come into its own.

This is what the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) wanted. The fact cannot be ignored because this is the highest ever monthly collection since GEB's inception in 1960.

Besides, for the first time GEB recorded increase of Rs 272..71 crore in its revenue of Rs 7284.99 crore during 2000-2001 .

GEB had been pleading with the authorities for hike in power tariff for the past couple of years before formation of GERC. Thus the formation of GERC was in the interest of cash starved GEB which helped GEB perk up its performance, say power experts .

The streamlining emphasised on cutting transmission and distribution (t &d) loss which was over 34 per cent. The GEB is taking steps to cut T & D losses, says member administration J N Singh.

However, it is realised that there should be accountability at all levels, introduction of energy audit and hike in disconnection of supply line (for non payment of bills). These steps can help the GEB to collect huge arrears that may be in crores.

The daily follow-up on disconnection can keep the officials and staff on toe who will not make any attempt in restoring the power supply.

Metering of all power connections is very necessary for which the target is set for Dec 31. This was decided at the power ministers conference in Delhi in March.

The metering of all connections is to be seen in the context of cutting T and D losses.

The average cost of power supply is Rs 3.50 per unit, it is 50 paise per unit for the farm sector and around Rs 2.25 paise for domestic and Rs 5.50 for the industrial sector.

The GEB's current streak of assertiveness follows decade of operational languor induced by bureaucratic apathy and political interference. In many respects, GEB fares better than most of its counterparts. Its plant availability factor and plant load factors are at much higher level than national average level.

The action plan helped GEB in performing well claims Singh.

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


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Middleman arrested by CBI in HSD scam Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: The CBI officials on Monday arrested one more person accused in the Rs 1,000-crore high speed diesel scam. The accused, Rajiv Mehta, was produced before special judge H B Antani on Tuesday on a plea filed by the CBI. The judge remanded the accused in police custody till July 23.

In the remand application, the CBI said that Mehta, a middle-man, used to arrange for the HSD at concessional rates from Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Vadodara to various private firms in the state, causing huge losses to the sales tax department. The procurers of the HSD were firms which were using the HSD for purposes not entitled for the special concession.

It is alleged that Mehta also used to sell the delivery orders for the HSD to private firms in connivance with an official of the HPCL, the name of whom the accused has refused to disclose.

The investigating agency also said Mehta used to arrange for the delivery orders on commission basis at very high percentage, and was also running a racket of arranging the 'C forms' of the sale tax department, which was essential to procure the HSD at subsidised rates.

Mehta also diverted the HSD procured at concessional rates into the open market at higher rates, thereby making profits by cheating the sale tax department.

Among the various private agencies which procured the HSD from him were New Age Petroleum, SPA Petroleum Products, D D Group, Maruti Chemicals India, Maruti Petroleum, Prithvi Petroleum, Shital Enterprise and Black Diamond.

According to the CBI, with the documents recovered from Mehta, a custodial remand of the accused was necessary. The accused is also to be taken to Vadodara and Mumbai for the recovery of 'C-forms' and other documents.

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


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Middleman arrested by CBI in HSD scam Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: The CBI officials on Monday arrested one more person accused in the Rs 1,000-crore high speed diesel scam. The accused, Rajiv Mehta, was produced before special judge H B Antani on Tuesday on a plea filed by the CBI. The judge remanded the accused in police custody till July 23.

In the remand application, the CBI said that Mehta, a middle-man, used to arrange for the HSD at concessional rates from Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Vadodara to various private firms in the state, causing huge losses to the sales tax department. The procurers of the HSD were firms which were using the HSD for purposes not entitled for the special concession.

It is alleged that Mehta also used to sell the delivery orders for the HSD to private firms in connivance with an official of the HPCL, the name of whom the accused has refused to disclose.

The investigating agency also said Mehta used to arrange for the delivery orders on commission basis at very high percentage, and was also running a racket of arranging the 'C forms' of the sale tax department, which was essential to procure the HSD at subsidised rates.

Mehta also diverted the HSD procured at concessional rates into the open market at higher rates, thereby making profits by cheating the sale tax department.

Among the various private agencies which procured the HSD from him were New Age Petroleum, SPA Petroleum Products, D D Group, Maruti Chemicals India, Maruti Petroleum, Prithvi Petroleum, Shital Enterprise and Black Diamond.

According to the CBI, with the documents recovered from Mehta, a custodial remand of the accused was necessary. The accused is also to be taken to Vadodara and Mumbai for the recovery of 'C-forms' and other documents.

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


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Alang yard under darker shadows of death Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Batuk Vora, The Times of India News Service
'Babus' of the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and a top minister are now accused by the ship-breakers of conspiring to divert the ship-breaking business from Alang near Bhavnagar to Pipavav near Rajula - to favour a private company that enjoys close proximity with the BJP government.

It is true, Pipavav has all the modern port facilities - including a ship-breaking yard, but it has failed to get any ship-breaking business so far due to the technical and traditional plus points of Alang.

Alang's ship-breakers and people of Bhavnagar are now seized with this fear. They have sure a convincing ground, as GMB is trying to impose some highly "objectionable" rules- according to the ship-breakers.

One of such commands to be introduced is to force a ship-breaker to close down his business for two weeks as soon as some accident occurs. However, nobody seems to have any viable explanation as to how accidents can possibly be stalled by such closures.

GMB has obviously not thought about the workers or the cost to the breakers. This will be over and above the prosecutions by police and the factory inspector.

Simple and immediate consequence of thoughtless imposition of such a rule would be an invitation to bankruptcy, as the breaker would not be able to bear the rising interest over the large amount he borrowed.

Additional new rules together with this could kill the business at Alang for ever.

Bureaucrats of GMB seem to have too many delicacies in their plate. It has so many Gujarat ports to develop, so many private parties to hobnob with and so much cream to be licked from each ship-breaker at Alang (by local minions), in particular.

Just look at their functioning. After some rude jolts from highly-competitive yards of China and Bangladesh and worldwide hue and cry over toxic waste and unsafe condition of 30,000 workers at Alang, GMB has finally, after three decades of mothering a chaos, "taken the responsibility of clean drinking water supply, solid waste disposal, workers' living quarters and other basic infrastructure facilities" at this world's number one ship-breaking yard recently, as reported by Saurashtra Samachar. Till today, against a requirement of 5,000 litres of water per yard, only 2000 is supplied.

It was never a case of GMB lacking the funds for the same (it has few crores of rupees in its kitty since long) but it failed to fulfil its responsibility during the last few years of its control over the yard due to sheer inertia, 'babudom' and callousness.

Such a commitment had to be made by GMB officials in a seminar specially organised last week by the life science department of Bhavanagar University under a UNESCO project. For the first time, perhaps, the concerned ship-breaker companies, workers and officials of GMB gathered on the same platform. Gathering also included hitherto discarded Alang villagers, who have to face all the negative consequences of such a huge industry on its doorstep.

Considered as the world's number one yard, built and nurtured by the sheer entrepreneurship of ship-breakers and migrant workers without much help from the government, Alang now faces a dark future as never before. It used to scrap 60 per cent of the world's vessels.

Annual turnover has come down from Rs 2,000 crore by 40 per cent. Most of the scrap re-rolling mills around have also closed down due to recession.

Ship-breakers find it hard to cope with the global competition on the one hand and greedy eyes of the Union steel ministry, GMB's hungry stones and worst of all - the custom and excise departments' "corrupt" ways. Of course, the ship-breakers themselves are not so holy cows either. Real victims are the workers and villagers and also the people of Bhavnagar, as the recession hits straight at their belly.

One of the most ridiculous aspects of the situation is lack of any humane living condition for the workers.

The state chief minister laid the foundation stone for construction of living quarters last year but nothing has been built so far! Too much penalisation of ship-breakers for unsafe working conditions could kill the whole industry here.

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


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Minister wants perks for quake-relief staff Thursday, July 19, 2001

The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR: State Jails minister Jaspal Singh on Wednesday favoured giving special incentives and allowances for the staff from various departments now engaged in relief and rehabilitation operations in the quake-affected Kutch and Saurashtra regions.

In an informal chat with reporters, Singh said that such efforts were needed on the part of the government to boost the morale of the staff which was working round the clock. They have been assigned in Bhuj, Rapar, Mundra and Bhachau.

He said it was high time the government chalked out a plan under which employees are given more benefits.

In the armed forces, jawans and officers posted on high altitude or in deserts like that of Rann of Kutch, are given special allowances, more ration and free education for their children. The state should provide similar benefits to the employees and officials posted in earthquake-affected areas of Kutch and other five districts of Jamnagar, Surendrangar, Rajkot, Patan and Banskantha districts.

Recalling his days with para-military forces on Indo-Tibetan border, Singh said that as a commandant, he used to visit jawans posted in the remote areas facing inclement weather and inquire whether they were comfortable or not. The minister said that such incentives would further encourage the employees to accelerate the pace of rehabilitation in Kutch.

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


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