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July 8, 2001 - July 8, 2001

Farmers in state still await farm kits from govt Sunday, July 8, 2001

By Anil Pathak, The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR: Even as monsoon has begun, the state government has not yet provided the required agricultural inputs to a majority of farmers in the earthquake-affected areas of Kutch, Jamnagar, Surendranagar and parts of Rajkot, Patan and Banaskantha districts.

It is learnt from reliable sources that around 40,000 farmers, who had applied for the assistance under package for agriculturists, have been distributed inputs like seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, while more than 45,000 farmers are still awaiting their turn to get the agricultural inputs.

Though the state government has set up several teams from agricultural departments to complete the assessment of the extensive damage suffered by over 2,00,000 farmers in areas badly devastated by the earthquake, the work is still going on and it might take another couple of months for the final survey of the affected agriculturists.

Sources in the department admitted that the computerised data of the farmers who have suffered losses following collapse of houses in the farms due to earthquake is still being prepared. However, farmers falling under various categories have been furnished kits containing seeds, fertilisers and pesticides so that they could start sowing operations. Small and marginal farmers have been sanctioned Rs 10,000, while in the third category, the amount has been fixed at Rs 15,000.

A senior official in the department said on condition of anonymity that "many farmers have not been given kits as their applications for the financial assistance were still under scrutiny by the concerned officials at district level."

Reports reaching the agriculture directorate said farmers were busy in sowing operation in the earthquake affected areas unbothered about the assistance. "We have already supplied kits to over 40,000 farmers, and those eligible for the help under the Rs 434-crore package would be provided kits in the coming days."

The distribution of the kits has been delayed as an on-the-spot assessment has to be made in many cases, and it would take some time the sources say. Survey has been made about other assistance like financial help for purchase of diesel sets, electric motors and other equipment, but the technical details have to be examined by the state water resources and land development corporations as they have been appointed as the nodal agency.

In case of partial damage to the store rooms in the farms, the state government has sanctioned Rs 2,500 while in case of collapse of a room a sum of Rs10,000 has been approved. Farmers whose agricultural equipment have been buried in the quake would be given 50 per cent of the cost, and for such irrigation tools 70,000 applications have been received so far.

The disbursement of assistance for the equipment to the affected farmers will commence only after the details furnished by the farmers were verified by a team of officials headed by deputy director in each taluka in Kutch and Saurashtra region. The state government has already paid compensation to the family members of around 400 farmers who were killed in the quake-affected areas.

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


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Many Trains rescheduled Sunday, July 8, 2001

The Times of India
VADODARA: The Railways have made a number of diversions and cancellation due to derailment of 602 Mangalore-Chennai Express between Arpangadi and Kadalundi on Southern Railway.

Train number 6335 will run between Gandhidham and Mangalore instead of Gandhidham and Nagarcoil. Similarly, train number 6336 will run between Mangalore and Gandhidham instead of Nagarcoil and Gandhidham up to July 10.

Train number 6337 Rajkot-Ernakulam and 6338 Ernakulam-Rajkot have been diverted via Vasai Road, Kalyan, Wadi, Guntukul, Dharamavaram, Tirupattur, Erode and Shoranur till July 9.

Train number 6333 Hapa-Thiruvnanthapuram and 6334 Thiruvananthapuram-Hapa diverted via Vasai Road, Kalyan, Wadi, Guntukul, Dharamavaram, Tirupattur, Erode and Shoranur up to July 9.

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


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Think before you drink A'bad ground water Sunday, July 8, 2001

By Shyam Parekh, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Water, the proverbial elixir of life can actually be a threat to your health, if you are one of the million odd residents of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority areas surviving on the water drawn from bore-wells.

Chemical investigation of the water samples collected from the western parts of city in the AUDA limits has clearly demonstrated that at most places the quality of water does not meet the requirements stipulated by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

The tests specially carried out by 'The Times of India' have revealed that the levels of pH, total hardness, chloride, dissolved solids and fluoride are in excess and in some cases are unfit for drinking.

Hence if you have joint or body aches, arthritis, dental decay, skeletal fluorosis, gastro-intenstinal irritation, effect on mucous membrane, kidney stones, blood pressure, deposits of encrustations in arteries and kidneys and a few other disorders, then blame the water!

The investigations specially carried out by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and the Consumer Education Research Society (CERS) suggest that the fluoride levels at many places do not meet the requirements specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (first revised 1991) at 1 mg per litre.

However, it complies with the relaxed permissible standards set by the BIS at 1.5 mg per litre, in the absence of alternative source of water.

But the fact that intake of dissolved fluorides increases in warmer places like Ahmedabad, as people tend to drink more water, is neglected in the current BIS standards. The BIS had earlier provided for 0.6-0.8 mgs per litre for warmer places like Ahmedabad, following World Health Organisation recommendations.

Joint director scientific MS Marsani, of the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board believes that with time standards need to be changed, compelled by the changes in scientific understanding and human adaptability.

"It is true that very high levels of totally dissolved solids and fluoride are seen in random pockets in some of these areas. However, not much effect is seen on health. Probably because of self-purification or acclimatisation", he says

"The ground water quality in Ahmedabad is as such not very good when compared to other places. The sum total of the constituents in water affects the taste as well as the health of the consumer. But we are not aware of them and their effects and unmindfully drink water as we are totally dependent on supplies" says regional director of the CGWB Dr A K Sinha.

He says that often it is not possible to bring them down to the laid standards and as a result we almost compromise on the standards .

However, 'WHO Guidelines for drinking-water quality' states that fluoride may give rise to mild dental fluorosis at drinking-water concentrations between 0.9 and 1.2 mg per litre.

Dean Government Dental College, Ahmedabad Dr KH Shah opines, "Levels above 0.9 can cause dental fluorosis, brittle and yellow teeth, cavities and other problems which are quite common in North Gujarat and Saurashtra. However, no specialised studies have been carried here. Besides the effect cannot be properly judged if people have come and settled here from outside".

Similarly there is much variation in the standards for the TDS too. While WHO desires TDS to be at 1000 units, Indian standards range between 500 to 2000. All the samples tested cross the WHO standards and are very near to the permissible limits.

All the samples have very high sodium content, some have more than double the prescribed WHO limit (BSI has not set any norms for sodium). "High sodium and chloride content in water gives it the familiar salty taste which also adds to the our salt intake and definitely not good for people with blood-pressure patients" says CGWB scientist PK Parchure.

Use of mineral water or purifying devices is not always the solution if it does not remove particular constituents which are in excess. "Most of the purifiers are useless for fluoride and TDS removals, except techniques like reverse osmosis and Nalgonda technique," he says.

However, AUDA is not the only area affected by fluoride. State of the Environment report of the Gujarat Ecology Commission shows that 48 talukas in 20 districts across the state share the same plight.

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


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Govt apathy, not quake kills this youth from Wadhwan Sunday, July 8, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT: While the killer quake on January 26 spared a 30-year-old youth, death caught him through delay in getting government aid. The untimely death of Dalwadi Balwant Bhagwanbhai hailing from Wadhwan on Wednesday was due to the state government's fault and this has caused resentment amongst the people here.

Though district authorities sanctioned him Rs 20,000 as aid, the money never reached him. To provide shelter to his family he borrowed money on heavy interest and was caught in a debt-trap as the promised government money never came and the stress ultimately overtook him and he suffered a massive heart attack and collapsed.According to sources at Wadhwan, the authorities did the survey of the house and even sanctioned money. He also received a letter that the first instalment of Rs. 8,000 was released. Then he was made to run from pillar to post for getting the money.

At last, officials told him that his file pertaining 'was lost' and could not be traced. Each trip to the mamlatdar's office cost him Rs. 60 towards travelling and other expenses.

Meanwhile, money lenders began to ask for the return of the money, which was not forthcoming. And even after his death when the relatives went to the mamlatdar, they were told the same story of 'lost file'.

The authorities at Wadhwan were not available for comment.

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


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Govt apathy, not quake kills this youth from Wadhwan Sunday, July 8, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT: While the killer quake on January 26 spared a 30-year-old youth, death caught him through delay in getting government aid. The untimely death of Dalwadi Balwant Bhagwanbhai hailing from Wadhwan on Wednesday was due to the state government's fault and this has caused resentment amongst the people here.

Though district authorities sanctioned him Rs 20,000 as aid, the money never reached him. To provide shelter to his family he borrowed money on heavy interest and was caught in a debt-trap as the promised government money never came and the stress ultimately overtook him and he suffered a massive heart attack and collapsed.According to sources at Wadhwan, the authorities did the survey of the house and even sanctioned money. He also received a letter that the first instalment of Rs. 8,000 was released. Then he was made to run from pillar to post for getting the money.

At last, officials told him that his file pertaining 'was lost' and could not be traced. Each trip to the mamlatdar's office cost him Rs. 60 towards travelling and other expenses.

Meanwhile, money lenders began to ask for the return of the money, which was not forthcoming. And even after his death when the relatives went to the mamlatdar, they were told the same story of 'lost file'.

The authorities at Wadhwan were not available for comment.

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


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