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July 9, 2001 - July 9, 2001

Indians settled in Russia contribute Rs 70 cr for quake-hit regions Monday, July 9, 2001

The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR: A large number of Indians and Gujaratis settled in Russia have collected donations amounting to Rs 70 crore as part of their contribution for the quake-affected regions of the state.

The amount will be utilised for constructing new primary schools in the quake-affected Kutch district. The construction work will be done with the help of NGOs in consultation with the state government.

This is the first major chunk of help received from abroad for re-construction of primary schools that had collapsed in the January 26 killer quake. The Central government has already sanctioned a sum of Rs 160 crore while Karnataka government has sent Rs 30 crore and the same amount has been cleared by the Indian Red Cross Society for construction of new schools.

State education minister Anandiben Patel announced that the state government would soon entrust the work of construction of schools to some leading NGOs. The process of scrutinising the NGOs engaged in educational activities is going on and in a few days the work will be handed over to them.

While appreciating the spirit of NGOs for reconstructing the collapsed schools in the quake-hit areas, the minister said that a leading corporate firm from Vadodara has already constructed buildings for more than 70 schools in Dhrangadhra taluka of Surendranagar district - one of the worst affected by the tremors in the Saurashtra region. Similarly, another NGO Radha Swami Satsang Religious Trust has done a commendable job by constructing 90 buildings for primary schools in Santalpur taluka of Patan district in North Gujarat region. Various sects of Swaminarayan have also contributed for this cause.

For repairing the school buildings, the education department has already executed a unique scheme, which will be carried out by the school principals in association with the gram samitis. The principals and the committee members will be responsible for the work assigned to them.

Patel said that a sum of Rs 50 crore has been deposited with the banks for reparation of at least 10,000 schools run by the education department, various municipalities and the district panchayats.

While unfolding the plan for the major repairs of the school buildings, the minister disclosed that her department has already appointed more than 800 civil engineers with salary of Rs 5,000 per month for the project that has already commenced. Each engineer will be supervising at least 20 schools.

Following detailed discussions with the DEOs, the state government has finalised plans for all the six quake-affected districts including Kutch, Jamnagar, Surendranagar, Rajkot, Patan and Banaskantha, and the work has also begun at some of the places, she said.

As per this plan, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Ahmedabad district panchayat have been sanctioned Rs 5 crore each for repairing school buildings in their jurisdiction. Banaskantha district have been provided with around Rs 10 crore for the purpose.

In addition to this, the state government is continuing with its project of constructing new classrooms under which 8,000 new classrooms would be constructed in the districts at an estimated cost of Rs 80 crore, she said.

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

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Scholarships awarded to 5 students Monday, July 9, 2001

The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Jaina, a federation of Jain associations in North America, has awarded scholarships to five needy students of Jainism.

The scholarship worth Rs 15,000 to Rs 17,000 is also extended to research students of recognised institutions and universities working in the field of Jainism, Jain philosophy, Jain literature, scriptures, temples and architecture. Last date for submitting applications for 2001-2002 is September 1. The application has to be addressed to Dr Jitendra Shah (Jaina's local representative), Darshan opposite Ranakpur society, Shahibaug.

Felicitations: Former Lions Club International president Rohit Mehta and former chief minister Dilip Parikh have welcomed the appointment of city-based industrialist Pravin Chhajed as director of the Lions International for a term of two years. He was elected at the general body meeting in the US on Friday.

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

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Is there a gender bias in the IAS? Monday, July 9, 2001

The Times of India News Service
The IAS Officers' Association has created history of sorts. Its new executive committee, which has elected as well as 'co-opted' members, does not have a single woman officer on the panel.

The recent association elections saw three IAS woman officers -- Manjula Subramaniam, Gauri Kumar and Rita Teotia -- withdraw from the contest during the process of co-option of half a dozen officers that took place last week. No woman IAS officer was taken in.

If Gauri Kumar and Rita Teotia argued that they were on the last committee for long, hence did not want to be part of the executive panel, Manjula Subramaniam apparently did not want to be caught in the intra-IAS struggle between the north Indian and south Indian lobbies. Also for the first time, there is not one IAS officer belonging to the southern lobby on the committee. It is a coup of sorts by the boys from the North who have stayed on the sidelines for long.

Hitting out at pliant bureaucracy

Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel is unhappy with the new leadership in the bureaucracy. He has made his displeasure apparent to several IAS officers who met him recently. The reason for his unhappiness is IAS Officers' Association new president Fateh Singh Jasol's statement, which he later denied having made, that IAS officers should just refuse to approve the 'wrongdoing' of the political leadership.

"Does it mean we want wrong things to do done? What does the IAS Officers' Association think of itself?" an angry CM is believed to have told several bureaucrats. Jasol had no other go. The statement was withdrawn. The association issued an official denial. A dormant organisation so far, many wonder whether the association would now become a pain in the neck for the government. Incidentally, a retired bureaucrat finds it strange that at least three officers on the new panel -- Vijay Ranchan, V C Patel and Varesh Sinha -- have been former chiefs of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation. Will they take the outfit on a road of confrontation with the state government is the moot question.

IAS reshuffle soon

For more than two weeks now, the talk of the Secretariat is the possible transfer of around 20 IAS officers. Those on the list include such senior officers as energy secretary Vijay Ranchan, revenue secretary CK Koshy, urban development secretary Manjula Subramaniam, Narmada Nigam managing director KC Kapoor, Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board CEO Ravi Saxena and water resources secretary RK Tripathi. The list is long. Yet, the bureaucracy has been kept on tenterhooks for quite long amidst all these reports of transfers. Many want the job to be done sooner than later so that they can concentrate on their jobs.

Woes of junior ministers

An increasing number of deputy ministers and junior-level ministers of state are feeling unhappy over the way their senior colleagues treat them. Till now only two names, that of deputy forest minister Pratap Singh Chauhan and deputy minister for labour and employment Purshottam Solanki, were being mentioned in this context. Joining the list is minister of state for school education Bipinbhai Shah, who is upset by the fact that Anandiben Patel, a strong-willed Cabinet minister in charge of school education, just does not allow files to go to Shah. "Shah has been seen pleading junior-level officers to get certain work done, so afraid he is of Anandiben," said a secretariat source. Commented a bureaucrat, "Anandiben does not care for Keshubhai, why should she care for her junior colleague?" But unlike others, Shah is a 'disciplined soldier' of the BJP. He would rather suffer than make public his suffering.

No pressure on CM

Pressured from various quarters, including his hard-line colleagues and the state BJP leadership, the CM at the last Cabinet meeting had to make a statement on Cabinet expansion. This was particularly surprising in view of the fact that state BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana had himself made a statement that the party would like to see some changes in the government. Some officials see an expansion coming on July 17 , while others say that it would be held not before August-end, after the state Assembly session. The CM had to clarify to his colleagues that any effort to pressure him would not bear results.

"I am not planning any Cabinet expansion, let it be known. If I plan, it will be according to my wish. I will not be pressured into it," he is believed to have told the Cabinet. The CM brushed aside Rana's statement as one of the "points of view" he has been receiving over a matter.

Wanted: Angels for GSFC

The Gujarat government and the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals (GSFC) would like to project that it is the Central government, and its confused policy on fertiliser subsidy, that is to blame for the huge losses that GSFC, once the jewel in Gujarat's crown, is showing. Stunned by the huge losses shown for the first time by the company, the government is pinning hopes on Union joint secretary for fertilisers Swatantra Shekhon, an officer of the Gujarat cadre, to sort out the mess. However, people who know the no-nonsense lady also know how independent (as her name suggests) she can be of pressure.

Incidentally, YK Alagh, who was appointed to head a committee to adjudicate between the fertilizer companies and the Central government on the subsidy issue, is also from Gujarat. Those who have watched the company flounder over the years say the government is only trying to deflect attention from the real malaise -- of how a complete rip-off of the company has taken place over the years.

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

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HC orders payment to 2,200 mill workers Monday, July 9, 2001

By Our Legal Correspondent, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: As many as 2,200 ex-workers of Continental Textile Mills, which was closed down in 1992, will benefit from a judgment of the Gujarat High Court directing the Textile Commissioner to pay up within six months the benefits of the Textile Workers' Rehabilitation Fund (TWRF) Scheme.

Justice R R Tripathi issued this direction in a judgment delivered in a petition filed by the Textile Labour Association. Advocate DS Vasavada appeared for the petitioner, while A S Dave appeared for the respondent.

The order directs the commissioner to pay the benefits of the scheme introduced by the ministry of textiles to provide the payment to the workers of the textile mills. As per the scheme, the textile workers who have been displaced on account of the closure after July 8, 1985, are to be paid the benefit over and above their statutory dues.

The mill was shut down in 1992 and the Division Bench of the HC had directed the collector to dispose of the property and to pay the dues of the workmen from the proceeds of which may be realised from the sale of the assets.

The textile commissioner did not pay as per the scheme on the ground that there is no legal closure or the winding-up has not been passed in the present case. The conditions for the scheme are that the closure should be after June 8, 1985; it should be a legal closure as per Section 25(O) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 or the winding up order should have been passed by the HC under the Companies Act, 1956.

Aggrieved by this order, the association moved the court challenging the action of the commissioner. It contended that the action of the commissioner in not giving the benefit was discriminatory and arbitrary as the appointment of the collector by the HC can also be equated with the appointment of the Official Liquidator.

It was also contended that there is no scope for the revival of the unit because the mill was closed since February 22, and after a time of nine years passing by there was no hope for revival.

The petition was upheld by the court.

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

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Power situation comfortable in state Monday, July 9, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: Anxiety in the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) over a long dry spell has ended after reports of good rainfall reported from various parts of the state in past two days.

Recent rainfall has made the power position in the state very comfortable as demand of power from the farm sector has come down to almost nil. Power demand has gone down by about 1,000 mw in last two days, GEB sources said.

As a result, the GEB reduced power generation at some of its thermal power stations in the state which would help the power board save costly fuel.

Heavy rains in fact created a critical situation due to the rise in the standard power frequency system. This compelled the GEB to take steps to bring it to standard level of frequency. This included backing down of some units located at Wanakbori, Ukai, Gandhnagar, Sikka and Panandhro.

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

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