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July 9, 2001 - July 11, 2001

Rajkot lensman's show in US Wednesday, July 11, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT: Rajkot photographer Sharad Vagadia will display 250 of his photographs on earthquake and drought at an exhibition in Chicago on July 8.

The exhibition has been sponsored by the Indian Council of America. Later shows will held in California, Los Angeles, Washington, Dallas, New York, Florida and Las Vegas. This is the first time that a Rajkot photographer has organised an exhibition abroad on this theme abroad.

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


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Executive Council grants affiliation to 15 colleges Monday, July 9, 2001

The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Bigwigs at Gujarat University have pulled off yet another trick in granting affiliation to 14 self-financed colleges with the Academic Council on late Friday recommending affiliation to the same 14 colleges and one more!

The new entrant to the list of recommended colleges is a BCA College run by New Meghdoot Education Trust in Ghodasar, promoted by former Congress minister P D Pandya.

The surprise move has raised many eye brows at the alacrity with which the GU bigwigs have dodged the proper channel and promoted granting affiliation to the 14 self-financed colleges despite the matter being subjudice and GU itself cancelling affiliations to the same on Friday morning.

"With the Executive Council withdrawing powers granted to the V-C for giving affiliations to colleges, the matter of deciding the need and recommending colleges afresh for affiliation should have gone to the Needs Committee. How can the Academic Council ignore the Needs Committee and recommend colleges?" questioned an agitated former V-C M N Desai who is member in both the Executive Council as well as the Needs Committee.

The surprise council move totally bypassing the Needs Committee has irked a number of other committee members as well. Here, lone rebel Narhari Amin came to a verbal battle with Needs Committee chairman Sardar Darshansingh Sikh. "The Needs Committee should demand and exercise its powers to recommend the need of colleges for affiliation, rather than lying low and letting it be stripped off its powers," Amin thundered standing outside the V-C's office.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife on what would be the next step by GU to grant affiliation to the controversial 14 colleges plus one new one. Informed sources say that ideally the Executive Council will meet and give nod to the affiliations by majority. Considering the urgency shown earlier by the GU authorities that earlier worked through the night and granted affiliations under the leadership of Acting V-C Chaitnaya Khambolja (V-C Naresh Ved had proceeded on leave), sources say the EC could even meet on Sunday and clear the case before Ved resumes office on Monday.

Another school of thought said that Acting V-C Khambolja may use his powers, this time the legitimate special powers granted to a V-C under section 11 (4) of the GU Act, and give the go-ahead to the self-financed colleges.

When contacted, Khambolja refused to comment on the future course of action to be pursued by the GU. Khambolja could also find no justification as to why the GU was is such a great hurry to grant affiliation to self-financed colleges now that the university announced admissions to almost all left-out students.

The GU admission committee finalised giving admission to almost all 2,792 students seeking admission in FY BCom, FY BA and FY BSc. The list of seat-allotment will be put up at Gujarat College and the GU Tower on Monday evening.

This could be done after principals of almost all colleges were convinced to admit 10-15 more students in each division. "There was problem in granting admission to a few left-out students in the B-stream for which we have asked the state government to open an additional division at Gujarat College," Khambolja said.

When asked how the self-financed colleges would be able to sustain themselves now that almost all students have been granted admission in the city, Khambolja said the same would somehow manage to attract students from adjoining areas. "How to sustain themselves is a matter of concern for the colleges and not university," Khambolja said.

He, however, said GU would keep track on whether or not the colleges were fulfilling the requirement prescribed by the university. "For colleges which were granted earlier too, we will take strict disciplinary action if found flouting the prescribed norms," Khambolja promised.

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


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Rain throws city life out of gear Monday, July 9, 2001

The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: It was a unique weekend for Amdavadis. Sleek four-wheelers got stuck in rainwater collected on busy thoroughfares, people worked furiously to get their two-wheelers stalled in middle of roads restarted, pedestrians waded through knee deep water and youngsters had fun sploshing on roads that looked more like water tanks after the short, yet heavy, downpour on Sunday morning.

The much-deliberated upon and result of countless official meetings, pre-monsoon action plan of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority gave little solace to the denizens.

While the city saw about only 10.39 mm of rainfall on Sunday, it was enough to throw city life out of gear for many hours. Portions of Satellite Road, thoroughfares linking areas like Jeevraj Park to heart of the city and busy arterial roads in AUDA area lay submerged as the AUDA continued to work hard on its last minute pre-monsoon action plan which focuses on laying drainage pipelines and catch-pits in areas prone to water-logging.

"It's like playing snakes and ladders," said Sanjeev Desai, who was stuck on the road adjoining Regional Passport Office of Ahmedabad. "Every time I thought I have found an alternative way into the city, a long stretch of road submerged in rainwater sends me looking for a relatively dry thoroughfare. I don't know why we bother paying municipal taxes. It has been more than an hour since I left home in Vejalpur but I am yet to reach Ashram Road," grumbled Desai.

The AMC was kept on its toes with around nine distress calls from water-logged areas. Localities like Vatva in the south zone sent about five such distress calls to the corporation's control room, while in east zone Odhav, Nikol and Mahakali hostel had one major water-logging to report. Areas under the north zone were the least bothered with only a solitary complaint from Navi Navyug colony being recorded. Water pumps and officials were busy at work till late on Sunday evening to clear out rainwater.

The AMC also received two alarm calls from Damaged structures of Gomtipur and Kalupur areas. Officials of the corporation said that work to demolish a quake-hit structure in Dabalia Ni Pol of Kalupur will begin shortly. "The building has shown further damages after the frequent spells of rainfall," the officials said.

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


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Mi-8 crash was due to 'pilot distraction': SWAC chief Monday, July 9, 2001

The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR: The controversy surrounding the crash of Mi-8 helicopter on November 12, 2000 in Nalia has finally been put to rest with the Indian Air Force concluding that it was caused due to 'pilot distraction' and not due to any "enemy action", as suspected earlier.

Briefing reporters at the headquarters of the South Western Air Command (SWAC) here on Saturday, AOC-in-C Air Marshal V K Bhatia when asked about the contrary reports on the crash elucidated that there had been a "reporting error" during the reconnaissance mission. According to him, "The Pakistani fishing boats parked in the nullah below caused the distraction that diverted the pilot's attention momentarily when the helicopter was flying low." Incidentally, the court of inquiry on this crash has already concluded the cause of crash as being "air-crew co-ordination error".

Asked about the frequent air crashes, Bhatia described it as "normal" and added that sometimes despite regular checks, components failed before their scheduled time.

To check frequent infiltrations across the Indo-Pak border on the Gujarat side, "a Quick Reaction Team (QRT)" called the 'Tat Rakshak' have been formed since the past one and half years", Bhatia informed.

Further, the forces had also begun joint exercises every fortnight with the Indian Army, Coast Guards and the Border Security Force at the Joint Operation Centre located in the BSF centre at Bhuj.

About SWAC's expansion plans, he said that it was in the process of building a permanent headquarter at Chiloda in Gandhinagar where it has acquired 170 acres of land. "We have made a requisition before the state government for another 100 acres that should be contiguous with this one," Bhatia added.

He said that SWAC, which already had 18 Sukhoi-30s, was in the process of acquiring 22 Sukhoi-30 MKI upgraded multi-role model with the avionics and weapon systems, being readied at Russia.

The last squadron of Hunters, said Bhatia, were on the threshold of retirement. The Air Force was also in the process of "mid-life upgrades" of combat aircrafts like MiG-21 and Jaguars.

Citing the three major achievements during his tenure, Bhatia said that he had launched an Operation of Preparedness, improving Operation capability and creating an ethos to make the officers proud of their service and creating 'Air warriors'.

He announced that the building that had housed the headquarters of SWAC in Jodhpur would now be converted into a museum and every IAF base in the state would have a museum.

Asked if the government compensation of Rs 1 lakh had been awarded to the Air Force personnel and their families who had perished in the January 26 earthquake in Bhuj, Bhatia said, "It has not happened as yet". IAF lost 96 men in the quake, out of which 30 were uniformed personnel. But he added that the Air Force staff had contributed from their salaries and collected a sum of Rs 3 crore which was in the process of disbursement to the beneficiaries under various schemes.

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


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Co-operate with silk board to raise production: Rana Monday, July 9, 2001

The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Union textiles minister Kashiram Rana has called upon the state governments of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to avail the facilities and incentives offered by the silk board to the maximum possible extent for increasing the production of silk in the country.

While addressing a meeting of the board at Bangalore on Saturday, the minister expressed his concern over fall in production of silk. He said it was unfortunate that despite concerted efforts being made by the Central government to enhance the production, it was not possible to meet the increasing demand of silk. As against the demand of 26,000 metric tonnes, the production has remained only at 15,000 tonnes.

He said the silk manufacturing states should come forward and take maximum advantage of the facilities and incentives offered by the Central government's silk board for increasing the production of silk.

The minister said the production has been affected in Karnataka because the state government was not supplying standard seeds for better quality of silk. The Central government, he said, has accorded highest priority for research and development for which the government has sanctioned Rs 10 crore for the current year.

The researchers of the silk board have developed a new quality of silk (bivoltine), which is better than the mallbery variety. On an experimental basis, 300 tonnes of the new brand of silk have been produced while a target of 6,000 tonnes have been fixed for 2007.

The Central government has sought help from Japan for adopting the latest technology to increase the production of silk in the country, he added.

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


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