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July 15, 2001 - July 15, 2001

Seven more MSU student leaders arrested Sunday, July 15, 2001

The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: The city police dealt another blow to the ongoing agitation against self-finance scheme for FY BCom admission on MSU campus by arresting seven more student leaders on Saturday.

Those arrested include MSU students union general secretary Bharat Dangar, former MSUSU VP Amar Dhomse, commerce faculty students association general secretary Amit Gotikar, former commerce FGS Mehul Lakhani and other student leaders - Mitesh Bhatt, Jignesh Thakkar and Dharmendra Panchal.

Dangar, Gotikar, Dhomse and Lakhani were put up in the Gorwa police station lock up while Bhatt, Thakkar and Panchal were locked up in Sayajigunj police station.

Students on MSU campus condemned police action and said it was unwarranted. Students blamed MSU administration, particularly vice chancellor Anil Kane, for undemocratically crushing a 'peaceful agitation'.

A students delegation led by Jignesh Patel met MLA Bhupendra Lakhawala and urged him to intervene. "They have booked all our leaders despite the fact that we have not taken any provocative action. Our agitation has been peaceful," Patel said.

Meanwhile, despite an elaborate police security on M S University campus student leaders carried out their bandh call on Saturday. Classes in arts, science and engineering faculties were called off in protest of MSU's decision to go ahead with the self financed scheme for FY BCom admissions.

Student leaders also managed to stage a surprise programme of pulling vice-chancellor Anil Kane's moustache. The moustache pulling programme was carried out at 5.30 pm at Kothi cross roads. Student leaders had put up a dummy of Kane with long stretch paper moustaches. Student leaders chanted slogans and pulled in paper moustaches to symbolically protests against Kane's decision to endorse the payment seat proposal commerce faculty.

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

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No alternative to Keshubhai: Khurana Sunday, July 15, 2001

The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR: The BJP high command's Gujarat observer, Madanlal Khurana, has said his talks with Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and other top state leaders had made it "amply clear" that there was no likelihood of Cabinet expansion or reshuffle before the end of the Assembly session.

Khurana told newspersons after his day-long meetings with party leaders on Friday that though the expansion was the CM's prerogative, things would move in that direction only next month. "However, I was not given any specific date," he added.

Admitting that there are problems with regard to allocation of portfolios, Khurana said, "More competent persons, both within the ministry and outside, should be given crucial portfolios. I conveyed my view over the issue to the party leadership."

Khurana, who had a separate meeting with three top state dissidents, ousted Narmada development minister Jaynarayan Vyas, top Saurashtra Patel leader Purshottam Rupala and North Gujarat's Patel senior leader Arvind Patel, said, he "listened with patience the different viewpoints over the party", finding them normal.

Saying that there is "no alternative to Keshubhai Patel", Khurana, who went back to Delhi on Friday evening, admitted there have been some problems in quake-relief work, such as distribution of tents. "We have received a mere Rs 3 to 4 crore from abroad for quake relief against high exceptions earlier", he added.

Calling all these "normal" for a tragedy of this dimension, Khurana said, "The BJP leadership clarified to me that wherever there have been irregularities or criminal neglect, the officials concerned have not been spared." He did not think that the party's image has taken a beating because of alleged lack of quick response on quake relief.

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

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Gastro, malaria on the rise in Surat Sunday, July 15, 2001

The Times of India News Service
SURAT: Cases of gastro-enteritis and malaria have been on the rise in the city as nearly 33 patients were admitted to New Civil hospital this week.

Most of the cases have been reported from slums located in Pandesara, Katargram, Limbayat, Udhana and Sachin, according to sources in the hospital.

Preventive measures have been taken up by the corporation to keep the low-lying areas free from any water-logging to prevent breeding of mosquitoes. Meanwhile, health officials of the corporation have intensified their scrutiny of hotels and other eating joints, sources said.

New commerce colleges: South Gujarat University will have two new commerce colleges in view of the heavy rush of admission seekers. In its syndicate meeting held on Thursday, members resolved to have around 400 more seats in the commerce faculty of the colleges under the university. Sources said modalities to start two new colleges, one at Surat and the other Vapi are being chalked out.

Security agency contract: Surat Municipal Corporation standing committee has decided to look into the security services run by a private agency in the corporation. In this regard, commissioner Guruprasad Mahapatra had earlier pointed out certain lapses on the part of the security agency with respect to their being awarded the job contract and the assigned responsibilities. Sources said the contract of the present agency would be cancelled and tenders floated to invite bids for consideration of award of the contract.

Narottam assurance: Water resources minister Narottam Patel said no village in Surat district will remain without drinking water in the near future as measures were being taken up in the regard by the state government. He was speaking at a public felicitation at Varachhha on Thursday.

Dist co-ordination meet: The district co-ordination meeting will be held on July 21 at the district collectorate to consider several issues pertaining to the district. According to a press note, the meeting will be chaired by collector Sangeeta Singh.

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

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Tax evasion to tune of Rs 100 crore detected Sunday, July 15, 2001

The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: In one of the biggest operations this year so far, income-tax sleuths raided premises of a city builder and a coal contractor, who also happens to be a stockbroker-financier. The raids might reveal evasion of more than Rs 100 crore.

According to senior officials, the raids, which were conducted at Ashram Road, Usmanpura, Navrangpura and even in cities outside Ahmedabad, have led to seizure of jewellery and cash worth lakhs, in addition to fixed deposits, share certificates and receipts of a unaccounted investments totalling crores.

From raids on the builder, the department seized gold jewellery worth over Rs 8 lakh. The party also admitted to evasion of income of about Rs 7 crore, which were detected through receipts showing investment in land.

In the second case which is one of the biggest raids of the department, the premises of a financier-cum-stockbroker-cum-coal contractor was detected.

While 5 gunny bags and an almirah full of share certificates were recovered from his premises, papers pertaining to ownership of 32 flats and 22 shops were also seized for evaluation. "Apart from having property in Kolkata, the person has about 250 accounts through which transactions running into several hundreds of crores are suspected to have taken place," said a senior official.

Fixed-deposit certificates worth Rs 5.7 crore were also attached along with five lockers at Classic Co-operative Bank that were yet to be operated, the senior I-T official informed.

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

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Snag in state's computer literacy drive Sunday, July 15, 2001

The Times of India News Service
GADHINAGAR: The Gujarat government plan to have a quick-fix solution for making the computer-starved state literate in a field so far neglected till quite recently has gone phut.

Worked out by then employment commissioner S Jagdeeshan and announced by Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel with great fanfare as a "mass programme unprecedented in scale and dimensions anywhere in India" about 18 months ago, the CM has now been told that the two lakh persons sought to be trained in 2000-01 in a two-moth training have failed to become computer-friendly, let alone develop a skill for making them usefully employed.

"After finding the plan not really helping those for whom it was meant, the CM has decided to put it off," said a bureaucrat. "Which means that the ambitious project to make 10 lakh unemployed youths computer savvy in five years has been dropped." The decision for this was taken, say officials, at a recent meeting the CM had with the labour and employment department officials, in which their minister of state Bhupendra Lakhawala was also present. "What is the use of the programme if it does not make youth employable?", he asked. "The entire Rs 30 crore spent last year has gone down the drain," added a bureaucrat.

A study commissioned to the Tata Consultancy Services, currently in the final stages of preparation, says that of the two lakh "registered", only 1.49 lakh were the actual trainees for the two-month computer-familiarisation course. The rest were all ghost students. Worse, a mere 90,000 appeared in the examinations at the end of the two months, and out of them only 70,000 "passed out." In terms of ability, the students just did not learn any skills which would make them to go in for a quick employment in an area still finding a place in the state. "The CM had no other go. He decided to put a brake on the whole thing," an official said.

Admitting that there was problem, Lakhawala told The Times of India, "As many as 21 private reputed computer agencies were asked to run the programme. However, instead of running the programme themselves at select Indian Technological Institute (ITI) centres in the city for which money was provided by the state government, the agencies chose to appoint several franchaisees which ran the programme without any skill. The agencies would just keep a percentage for themselves and get away. We decided to drop the franchise system and revive the programme."

Insiders said the main problem was political. The state commionerate of employment would be pressed by small-time politicians mainly of the BJP brand to open ever new computer training centres with government money. "Computer classes mushroomed. Those who ran them provided as less as Rs 1,000 per month to the teachers, pocketing a lot of government subsidy amount," said a Secretariat source. Instead of the planned 200, as many as 550 such classes came up. The franchaisees would often further lease out for a sum to some others. Interestingly, the CM has yet to order an inquiry into the whole thing.

Said Lakhawala, this year as against the last year's target of two lakh, one lakh would be trained. "The fees charged from students, Rs 40 for the course, was found to be too low for the students to understand the value of the course. The government was spending Rs 1,150 per student. We have now decided to charge Rs 200 deposit per student, which would be returned only to successful students. The two-month course has been made into a three-month course. There would be more detailed selection. English has been made a compulsory subject of study. Computer courses have also been revised," he said.

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

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