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July 13, 2001 - July 14, 2001

Govt declares Vadodara 'cholera-threatened' Saturday, July 14, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India
VADODARA: While the state government has declared the city "cholera-threatened" with cases being reported from many parts, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has come under severe flak from city doctors who say that complaints of polluted water supply for the past one month have fallen on deaf ears.

And, with the rains clogging drainage lines and waterlogging roads, doctors fear that the city, which is already in the throes of jaundice, diarrhoea and dysentery, may soon be hit by typhoid and malaria.

City-based physician Amit Desai blames the VMC for its failure to handle the issue of polluted water supply. "Cholera is a water-borne disease. So are jaundice and diarrhoea. Though these diseases are common during monsoon, this year the problem has aggravated," he said.

According to him, the common complaints against the VMC officials are that they have failed to respond promptly to complaints of the people. They have been apathetic in their attitude and they have not taken prompt action.

Dr Chaitanya Joshi says though he has not received any confirmed cases of cholera, two patients under his treatment are suspected to be suffering from the disease and have shown clinical symptoms of cholera.

Though laboratory reports have not confirmed the disease, Joshi feels tests may not provide the correct analysis if the patient has already begun treatment for the disease. He too blames the VMC for not providing clean drinking water, which, he feels, could be a reason for the many diseases.

Meanwhile, doctors also warn that Vadodara may soon have to brace itself to face the problem of malaria and typhoid due to dirty water pools in various city areas. "The water bodies are ideal for mosquito-breeding, and there is a likelihood that within the next 20 days people could be affected by malaria and typhoid, if adequate precautionary measures are not taken," says Dr Shailesh Shah.

The symptoms of cholera include diarrhoea, vomiting and a fall in blood pressure coupled with marked dehydration, which can even lead to death.

According to Shah, roads should be cleaned properly and adequate measures should be taken to ensure that water does not accumulate. If there are such water bodies they should be removed immediately.

Meanwhile the VMC has said that 11 more cases of diarrhoea and vomiting have been reported at the Jamnabai General Hospital. Four cases of Cholera were reported at the Infectious Diseases hospital and an additional new case surfaced here on Thursday. While all cases of suspected cholera are from Fatehpura, one case is from ward number five.

The VMC officials have said that they are now taking all precautionary measures as per the norms of the BPMCA Act to ensure that the problem of cholera would be kept under control. All larris, restaurants, cinema halls and other public places in the city would have to ensure that cleanliness is maintained. If this is not done, these would be sealed.

No private hospital in the city would be allowed to admit a cholera positive patient as an indoor patient. If found positive these cases should be sent to the ID hospital at Karelibaug. At no city areas sugar cane juice of fruits that are cut would be allowed to be sold as per the norms.

Do's and Dont's :

* Drink only boiled water.

* Do not eat stale food or uncovered food.

* Keep roadsides clean, do not allow stagnate water to remain accumulated at one place.

* Keep all overhead and underground water tanks clean and disinfected.

* Do not eat from larris.

* Use mosquito repellents

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

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"Charges are all fake" state environment minister Friday, July 13, 2001

The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR: He is sunk in thought as he sits on a couch in Circuit House. Clad in white khadi and sporting Kolhapuri sandal, sixty-something forests and environment minister Kanjibhai Patel presents the picture of a typical politician and appears unfazed by the serious charges levelled against his son Sunil related to the large-scale smuggling of 'kher' wood from South Gujarat forests.

Kanjibhai, who began his career at the panchayat office in his native village Bodvank, was an active member of the former Jansangh. He rose to become the village sarpanch and then president of Chikhli taluka panchayat.

He has been elected thrice to the Assembly from the Chikhli seat in Navsari and was appointed as minister of state for welfare of Scheduled Tribes and panchayat. Later he became minister for Panchayat, Scheduled Tribe welfare, environment and mines and minerals.

Holding the portfolio of forests and environment since March 1998, the soft-spoken Kanjibhai considers the success of the joint forest management programme in the state as his biggest achievement.

In an exclusive interview with 'The Times of India' Kanjibhai made candid conversation about the charges his son faces and kher wood smuggling from Gujarat.

Q. What do you have to say about the charges?

A: I don't have much to say. A lot has been written about... Besides I have already made it clear that I am open to any investigation. The charges are all fake.

Q. You have a clean image, but what about your son's role in kher wood smuggling?

A: I have worked for years to organise the BJP in the Adivasi belt. My son toils hard at Dena Bank, as many of the staff members there have opted for the voluntary retirement scheme. By the way, there is no BoB in Kahrol, it's Dena Bank. These days he is so busy that even if I want to assign him any work he does not have time.

The charges suggest that Sunil was paid Rs 10,000 on May 19 at Volga Hotel near Chikhli. But Volga is a restaurant and has no rooms to stay. On that day we had some rites at home as a close relative had passed away. How is all this possible?

Q. But what about the evidence? The panchanama, the statements by those caught and the diary?

A: I was shown the diary by a senior minister and asked whether I could identify my son's handwriting. I said I could. The number claimed to be written by Sunil is definitely not in his handwriting. We are trying to find out who has played this mischief.

Q. What about the persons arrested?

A: We are trying to find out who they were and where they are now, as they have disappeared. Surprisingly, they were released on bail and let off. They were not taken on remand.

Q. How can this happen? Were you not in the know of things?

A: I did not know about the incident and by the time I knew they had disappeared. Now where do we find them? We have also found out that the wood did not come from the forests but from the privately-owned property.

Q. In that case who could have done that? Your own department staff had effected the arrests.

A: We are yet to find out, but it won't be long before we come to know. I don't have any complaints against anybody. There are some political opponents who are very ambitious and now out of the party. Since they did not get to re-enter the party, they are employing all tactics to create problems.

Q. What about 'kher' wood smuggling? Are you denying that it takes place?

A: 'Kher' wood smuggling is not new, it has been going on even before we came to power. I have been trying hard to prevent it. Initially we got a Daman-based 'katha' factory closed and sought the help of the SRP and the police in preventing this activity. But we cannot employ a patrol for long.

Besides, except for about five to ten per cent of the smuggled 'kher' wood, most originate from privately-owned land. The farmers sell it out of compulsion when they are short of cash.

Q. Is it true that your son has purchased large pieces of land after you became minister?

A: (Laughs) Who said that? He does not own any such land. Nor do I. We have some agricultural land to support us and that is it. My other sons are also rendering services at different places.

Q. Some local forest officials are alleged to be involved in this illicit business.

A: No they are very honest and that is why they are a hurdle for many and hence the charges against them.

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

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Violence makes a mark on NGU campus Friday, July 13, 2001

The Times of India News Service
MEHSANA: Homeopathy students of NGU, allegedly backed by Congressmen of Patan, wrote the first chapter of campus violence in the history of the state's youngest university leading to the arrest of executive member Dashrath Jethabhai Patel on Wednesday for allegedly instigating the students and masterminding the plot to manhandle the vice-chancellor which was frustrated by the police.

Dashrath and senate member Dahyabhai Kamrajbhai were in the police custody and 17 students were taken to court for indulging in violence.

On Wednesday afternoon, three busloads of agitating students arrived on the campus and urged the police to allow them to see the vice-chancellor to make a representation against what they termed as an 'exceptionally low result' in their faculty.

The incharge DSP N G Patel allowed them to send a delegation of five students to meet the VC. But they refused and insisted on seeing the VC en masse. They threw stones at the police and broke the window panes of the offices of the registrar, deputy registrar and others on the ground floor. A woman constable was also injured.

When things seemed to go out of control the police resorted to lathi charge and lobbed teargas shells. Some students were injured in the ensuing melee. After an hour-long siege of the university, they dispersed.

When contacted registrar Bharat Shah said this was the handiwork of some anti-social elements who had come in a jeep and mingled with the agitating students. Vice-chancellor Balwant Jani unequivocally said this was a conspiracy hatched by the Congressman who is on the executive committee, Dashrath Patel. The video recording shows him instigating the students to throw stones at the police and the university building.

Explaining the stand of the university, Dr Jani said the result was low because of the scrapping of the internal marking as recommended by the Homeopathy Council of India. He added there were constant complaints of malpractice in the internal marking.

Refuting the charge that the examiners had BJP leanings and that they selectively victimised colleges, Dr Jani said it was all 'humbug' and an attempt to subvert the system which was more transparent than ever. He had set up a committee comprising former PVC C D Trivedi, four principals and senior faculty. He alleged that the vested interests were out to politicise the issue.

Prof. Sridhar Joshi wondered about the motive of the agitation against the first ever qualitative results. Many academics were aghast at the basic plank of the agitation and felt the students were being used as 'tools' by the politicians.

The bandh call given by the NSUI for Thursday seems to have failed as all the institutions worked normally.

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

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Half of Rajkot lives in squalour Friday, July 13, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT : Nearly 4.60 lakh people were deprived of cleanliness facilities though the civic body spent Rs. 1 crore towards safai workers' wages --- one third of the expenses of the civic body. The census has put the city population at 10 lakh.

Top sources in the civic body confessed on Thursday that only 5.40 lakh people were covered by sanitation facilities of the civic body. The less said the better about the quality of cleanliness offered to even this 'privileged class'.

Residents of the newly merged areas were cursing the day they were merged into the civic body --- for political reasons. The new wards of 21 to 23 were merged in 1998. Yet they are deprived of tap water, tar roads and street lights. Though part of the corporation, they live in unhygienic squalour. The condition worsened during monsoon.

What was more shocking, none of the 69 corporators had ever bothered to ensure that garbage from their wards was being lifted and that the basic infrastructure was provided to the people. It is no secret that these elected representatives are guided more by political considerations rather than the people's well being.

Sources in the health department said of the complaints regarding civic services 50 per cent were related to garbage pileup and unhygienic living conditions. Most of these complaints are enclosed in the complaints books but the people's representative have no time or inclination to attend to them.

The standing committee at its last meeting sanctioned Rs. 23 lakh towards cleanliness in three new wards. Yet not a single member has inquired where and how this money was being used.

The excuse put forward by the civic body for the squalour: the usual answer of staff shortage. It is said that 'there was inadequate staff from wards 7 to 20 as a result of which the garbage dumps were increasing'. After an initial work done by the Congress-run civic body and the harsh steps taken by mayor Ashok Dangar, the civic body seems to have lost momentum and the entire administration was once again sluggish and had got into the same old rut of 'non-functioning'. Even the enthusiasm shown by the mayor in discipline seems to be on the wane.

The case of solid waste management is also a classic example of bureaucratic way of delaying the project. PU Asnani, former deputy commissioner of Ahmedabad, was called to Rajkot for a seminar on how to solve the problem of solid waste management but the corporation had not bothered to pursue the issue which was once again buried under heaps of files in the civic office.

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

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350 building plans pending due to officials' apathy Friday, July 13, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT: Due to the rigid stance taken by the building department of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation 350 building plans were still kept pending with the department.

Sources in the department told TOINS that no decisions have been taken for the past six months on plans, especially after the earthquake. As a result, the civic body revenue has dwindled.

After the notification on impact fee 2000 illegal buildings were issued notice. Yet no steps have been taken by the civic body to regularise them.

The rules have officially arrived but the officials lack the will to implement them. As a result, though rules are existing their implementation is not only tardy but also ineffective.

Town planning officials said that after the new set of rules was notified not a single plan has been cleared by the department.

An important point was soil testing made compulsory after the earth quake. In some cases, where the civic body knew that there was no need for a soil test report as the construction would not be beyond two floors, it has been asked to give the clearance without awaiting the soil report.

However, even builders and house owners were silent on the issue.

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

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