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July 19, 2001 - July 19, 2001

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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Police lookout for criminals in outskirts of Surat Thursday, July 19, 2001

The Times of India News Service
SURAT: Keeping in view the outskirts of the city being possible hideouts for criminals to escape, the district rural police in co-ordination with the city police have been periodically launching drives to nab the anti-social elements.

Going by the economic activities on the periphery of the city, as many of the industrial units in the city have subsidiary and supplementary units in the rural areas, the rural pockets too have been sometimes the areas of criminal operations. Underworld mafia gangs too keep an eye on the small-time criminals in these areas and allure them to operate on their behalf in the city and around.

The city-based gang of underworld don Chhota Shakeel busted by the city police on Tuesday is an indication as how small-time criminals Montu and his associates graduated from being vehicle stealers to be part of the underworld mafia.

The lure of easy money and the criminal urge to make oneself known as big 'bad guy' are often the driving force for the small-time criminals to get into the underworld mafia.

The district rural police in co-ordination with the city police have often been conducting drives to keep a check on any such linkages, and a strict vigil is maintained on the possible hideouts of criminals on the periphery of the city. Besides, a data base of absconders is maintained and updated periodically after joint consultation with various law enforcing agencies in the monthly crime conferences.

These exercises have been of utmost importance, as the settlements on the periphery like Palsana, Kamrej and Olpad have grown as extensions of the city area and often the criminals find it convenient to commit crimes in the city limits and then to slip into one of these areas on the outskirts, according to district superintendent of police K L N Rao.

Moreover, the highway passing through the district also is an easy passage to enter for such anti-social elements from outside the district and even from other states, as in the last few weeks four interstate gangs were busted at different places in Kamrej, Mahua and Olpad, Rao stated.

The settlements outside the city limits often have sympathisers of criminals or dormant criminals as concentration of industrial activities too attract a large number of job seekers, some of whom at times owing to being unemployed do indulge in committing crimes, he informed.

For this, a regular monitoring is maintained by the police and a watch is kept on suspicious elements, Rao said. Besides, hotels on the highway in the district too have been used as hideouts by the criminals, and so all these places have been kept under surveillance, he added.

Often the inter-state gangs after committing crimes head for their respective native places in other states and so it becomes necessary to have regular combing operation in those areas with the assistance of the local police there to nab the criminals, Rao informed.

The preventive measures to keep the areas on the outskirts free from criminals include information sharing among various law enforcing agencies about anti-social elements and their possible links in the rural areas, so that a network could be developed for better monitoring, Rao said. Since the peripheral areas are also a continuing extension of the city limits, the links among criminals in the city and their counterparts in the rural areas too are kept under scrutiny.

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

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High-rise owners file complaint Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Our Civic Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Five more commercial high-rises in the city lost their 'lifelines' on Tuesday. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation cut water, gutter as well as power connections (with help from AEC) to these buildings for non-compliance with fire-safety norms and for doing without the mandatory building use (BU) permission.

Monday's disconnections took the total number of commercial buildings to be penalised by AMC to 17. Some more of similar crackdowns are expected with the AMC drawn up list of 26 commercial high-rises which have failed to make any move to install fire safety equipment or get a BU despite High Court's directives to the effect.

Akruti near SP Stadium, Maharana Pratap near V S Hospital, Sahjanand Shopping Centre at Pritamnagar, Shyam Shikhar at Bapunagar and Srikrishna Complex near Mithakhali square saw the AMC-axe fall on water, gutter and power connections. On Monday four high-rises - Sumeru Complex near Mahalaxmi cross-roads, Vanijya Bhavan at Kankaria, Trade Centre and Golden Triangle near SP Stadium - were withdrawn by the corporation. Electricity to all these commercial complexes was also cut with aid from the AEC.

Though, in accordance with the HC's orders, the corporation is going slow with residential complexes, AMC has been serving notices to them. One such notice to Samvid Tower of Sahibaug saw an unique retaliation.

Residents of Samvid filed a complaint with the local police against the builder - J S Corporation - saying that responsibility of fire safety norms rested on the latter. Police sources disclosed that the complainants have accused the builder for cheating them for the last seven years by not getting a BU permission from AMC, neither installing the fire-safety norms as promised before they took possession of their quarters.

Not only that the chairman of the health committee of AMC, Narendrabhai Brambhatt, who is the president of the flat owners' association of Samvid has also submitted a petition to the High Court on Tuesday. First hearing of this case is scheduled for Wednesday.

In the legal petition, the owners have sought the court's intervention in stopping the corporation from disconnecting their "lifelines" and directing responsibility of installation of fire-safety equipment on the builder.

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

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NGOs express reservations on two-child norm Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Our Health Correspondent, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Representatives of over 25 voluntary organisations from across the state have expressed serious reservations about the two-child norm proposed by the state government.

In a meeting organised on Tuesday by CHETNA to discuss the implications of the recently announced two-child norm and the final draft of the Population Policy of Gujarat, almost all of the 40 representatives voiced that this sudden declaration of the two-child norm is contradictory to the draft population policy declared in May 2000, which is comprehensive from economic, social and health aspects.

"Is there any pre-conceived logic behind introducing the proposed population control policy or is it simply a knee-jerk reaction of Keshubhai government to the Census 2001 findings that has put the population over five crore?", questioned Jyoti Ghade of CHETNA at the sudden decision of the state government to draft the two-child declaration.

Doubts were also raised at whether the law would be effectively implemented or not. "Will it entail enforcing powers or be reduced to yet another toothless law like the Anti-Dowry Act or laws against female foecitide?", questioned Ila Pathak of AWAG.

Dubbing the norm as unclear on number of aspects, Pathak asked as to what stand the government would take if a woman marries a man with two children. "Will she then have the right to bear a child of her own? If yes, then will the family be in for disincentives. If no, then will it not be violation of her human right to give birth?", she asked.

A joint declaration was formulated by all the NGO representatives that calls the two-child norm against the democratic principles. According to the declaration, "the Constitution of India promises fundamental rights to every citizen . This leaves the family and not the state to plan the number of children they want to have. The proposed declaration of the government is violative of human and reproductive rights".

The declaration further says that "development is the best contraceptive which has been accepted by the government of India. The government should therefore concentrate on providing healthcare services at the grassroots level".

The declaration will be submitted to the state government at the public hearing organised at the Civil Hospital on July 20.

Meanwhile, other points too were raised at the meeting. "When we say that people with more than two children will not be allowed to contest elections or given promotions and increments, how many people are we targeting - eight people out of a village of 15,000 and a handful of government employees respectively? What about the others? Will the government be able to apply disincentives say to a share broker or a builder from buying or selling shares, or the construction materials respectively?", questioned an NGO representative.

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

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MSU sure of a good response to self finance scheme Thursday, July 19, 2001

By Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: Despite dramatic protests undertaken by student leaders against the self finance scheme for the commerce faculty here, the M S University authorities are confident of a positive response to their scheme.

They say that their self-finance scheme would be utilised by the 2000 odd students who have scored less than 59 per cent and have not made it in the merit category. "There have been many inquiries about our self finance scheme from parents anxious to admit their students to the FYBCOM classes. We believe that we would receive a good response," says M S University vice chancellor Dr Anil Kane.

"The students who are protesting are merely a handful and other students do not support their cause. We therefore feel confident that our self-financing scheme would be used by the students" he said.

The dean faculty of commerce has announced that students who receive less than 59 per cent would not be admitted in the merit category and if they seek admission they would have to pay an annual fee of Rs 6100.

"Out of the 8256 applicants this year 4770 students have been given admission in the open merit list while 2100 students would be admitted through self finance scheme. They would have to pay annual fee of Rs 6100, while those selected in the merit category would have to pay Rs 750 or Rs 350 respectively depending on whether they are boys or girls" he said.

According to syndicate member Pragnesh Shah the claims made by the student leaders saying that the university would make a profit by the self financing schemes are unfounded. He claimed that to accommodate 2000 extra students in the General Education Centre, they would require an additional fund of Rs 50 lakhs just for paying salaries to 35 teachers and therefore the fee hike is justified.

He said that there is no way that the university would be able to admit all 7000 or more students who have applied. As per the government resolution we cannot unanimously declare a fee hike of all students to accommodate them all as is being suggested by a few student leaders. "The GR prevents us from doing so, besides why should a student who has worked hard in exams and scored a good percentage be forced to pay high to accommodate others" he argues.

However many student leaders including ex university students union GS Prakash Verma says that the MSU is deliberately increasing the cost of the self finance scheme. "There are many other faculties and departments where full time self finance scheme are being held but the costs are not as high as Rs 6000. For example the BBA programme, the PGDBM and the IRPM courses. All of these are self financed courses but fees are not high" he said.

According to another student leader Bharat Dangar the main reason that the MSU has hiked the course fee is that the other new private colleges that come up in the city would be able to economically compete with these. He claims that many of the new private colleges that have are affiliated to the other universities of the state belong to senate or syndicate members who stand to gain economically.

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

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