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July 1, 2001 - July 1, 2001

Govt keen bringing up packaging law in edible oil trade Sunday, July 1, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT, June 30: State civil supplies minister Babubhai Bokhiriya on Friday hinted that the state government was keen to bring in the controversial packaging law in the edible oil trade to stop its adulteration. The powerful oil lobby was vehemently opposing the law.

Addressing the members of the oil lobby - packers and traders - here on Friday, the minister said that the move to bring in the packaging law was to ensure that the common man was not deprived of good quality edible oil.

The new packaging law was to be introduced from July 1 but has been put off till July 11 for more deliberations and consultations with various other federations.

In fact, the announcement was to be made on Friday itself by the civil supplies minister but after stiff resistance by the oil lobby, the decision has been deferred till July 11. The civil supplies department was also keen to give a hearing to the consumer forum in this regard after which a final decision would be taken.

As many as 100 delegates from the entire state participated in the meeting which turned out to be stormy with allegations flung at the civil supplies officials and also on the oil millers and traders.

Though reporters were not allowed into the meeting for obvious reasons, insiders told this correspondent that the minister had a tough time in controlling the mood of the traders, oil lobby and even his own department staff.

The meeting decided that the trader, packer or oil miller would be solely held responsible for the quality of the stock seized during a raid which means that the adulteration could be caught at the place of crime itself.

In view of this decision, the civil supplies department has already started raids on several traders and oil millers in Rajkot, Jamnagar and Ahmedabad to seize the adulterated oil, according to sources.

Bokhiriya said that the aim of bringing in the packaging law was to ensure that edible oil is not sold in loose pouches or tins but only in packed ones. This would help in controlling the adulteration, he said adding that there was no need for the oil millers or packers to fear anything from the civil supplies department. He assured all possible help to the oil millers and packers.

The oil millers stressed on the need to have strict implementation of quality check and stern action against those who indulge in adulteration.

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


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Drug peddler gets 11-year rigorous imprisonment Sunday, July 1, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD, June 30: A Punjab-based drug peddler, with long history of drug trafficking and having an international arrest warrant issued by UK authorities against him, was convicted by a city court on Friday.

Additional sessions judge Sonia G Gokani sentenced accused Sukhdev Nazir Singh alias Monkey, a native of Monga district of Punjab, to 11 years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 2 lakh. Monkey was arrested on November 22, 1999 by the Narcotics Control Bureau.

Monkey was involved in several cases of drug peddling in the country as well as abroad but every time he escaped from the hands of law.

According to the prosecution, the NCB was tipped-off that on the evening of November 22, a person by the name of Sukhdev Singh, aged around 50 years, will pass from nearby Vejalpur police station with a consignment of drugs.

Around 5.30 pm, the sleuths spotted a white car (PB 10J 0277) and on checking, the NCB officials seized a heavy consignment of fine quality heroin (brown sugar) from below the rear seat of the car. The drugs worth Rs 4.5 crore concealed in three packets weighed 4.423 kg. Also four ampules of morphine were seized along with two syringes.

While in defence, eight witnesses were produced in favour of the accused who submitted that it was a case of plant to trap him falsely. But public prosecutor A P Desai presenting the case on behalf of NCB argued that the amount being huge, the theory of plant was ruled out.

Also Desai pointed out, had the consignment not been seized, it could have harmed the society in a big way. While the defence pleaded for minimum sentence, the prosecution said keeping in view the consequences of had the consignment found the way into the society, the law should deal with the accused in a stringent manner.

During the investigation, it was found that the accused was not only involved in NDPS cases at Delhi and Mumbai but was also charged for drug peddling abroad. He was arrested for the first time in London in 1983. He was in jail for six months, but escaped while on bail before being convicted by the authorities. He entered India with a fake passport. He was arrested again in Delhi in 1987 and was lodged in Tihar Jail for some time before he escaped while on bail. He was caught again at Mumbai and was kept at Arthur Jail but was released in 1992.

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


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City council to move court over lake pollution Sunday, July 1, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA, June 30: Despite a recent Gujarat High Court order asking state governments to maintain all water bodies -- like lakes, ponds, rivers and canals in the state -- Masiya lake at Manjalpur is currently in the process of being filled up.

The Baroda Beautiful Council (BBC) president RO Shah says the VMC has allowed lake to be filled up with garbage and debris despite norms that prohibit this.

According to him the BBC is now planning to file a writ petition in the High Court about the damage that is being done to the city's ecology and aesthetics.

"The Gujarat High Court had recently said in its order in the case of Ahmedabad's Chandola lake that the state governments should be responsible and not allow lakes to be polluted," he says.

But the VMC has not taken care of any of the city lakes and in most lakes drainage water and garbage is allowed to accumulate. The High Court order not only asks the government to ensure that there are no encroachments on these lakes but also keep that they are kept clean so that during monsoon they can be filled with water.

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


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BHAVNAGAR:::: Dalit burnt to death in Bhavnagar Sunday, July 1, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD, June 30: Close on the heels of the Surbha Vandh massacre in Rapar taluka of Kutch, a Dalit was burnt alive by an irate mob from a rival community at Kasan village in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar on Thursday night.

According to police, Premji Valabhai Bhadraka (47) was burnt alive in the toilet of his house by some 20 people from his village, most of them belonged to the Ahir community.

Interestingly, this incident coincides with the visit of National Human Rights Commission chairman Justice J S Verma to the state.

While the police claim that the victim was a notorious criminal who has faced externment in 1999, sources reveal that Premji and his family were victimised because theirs was the only Dalit house in the village.

Cases of murder have been booked against Haja Devayat Ahir, Kalu Devayat Ahir and 15 to 20 other unknown persons at the Bagdana police station after a complaint was lodged by the victim's wife, Hiraben.

Police sources told TOI on Friday that the incident took place when Premji was walking down from the paan shop near the bus stand to his house. "When he reached a public tap on his way, the mob emerged with lethal weapons and iron rods, and beat him up along with his wife. And when Premji ran from the spot, they chased him upto his house," the police said.

A petrified Premji locked himself up in the toilet, but the furious mob broke the roof of the toilet, and doused him with edible oil and kerosene - picked from his house - before setting him ablaze in front of his wife. Premji died on the spot. The incident took place at around 9.15 pm on Thursday in Kasan village.

Special IGP of the Junagadh range H P Singh and district superintendent of police J K Bhatt immediately rushed to Kasan village. No arrests were reported till Friday evening.

When contacted, Dy SP H B Barot (administration) told TOI that Premji had been externed in 1999 and was a notorious criminal. "He has been threatening people in the village, was also booked under the Arms Act and already has two cases registered against him," he added.

The Kasan village, comprising some 2,000 residents, is dominated by Ahirs (cattle-rearers) followed by the Satwada and Khadak castes.

Only recently, some nine persons from the Gadhvi community were killed over a land feud in Surbha Vandh by the Kolis, which had raised the hackles of the state government.

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


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GSRTC's plans go off road Sunday, July 1, 2001

The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD, June 30: Buckling under huge financial losses, touching the Rs 250-crore mark again this year, the aspirations and dreams of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation have been shattered. The plan unveiled last year, which had envisaged a public transport system of the new millennium under the Vahan Vyavhar Sankul Yojana, has been tucked away.

There are still no signs of the promised winds of change which were to sweep across bus terminuses across the state which were to be developed through private investment having modern facilities like shopping malls and internet cafes. The two pilot projects at Botad and Kodinar terminuses, which were to be launched six months back, are still awaiting clearance. Even the proposed acquisition of 5,000 new buses has gone astray.

"The buses were to be purchased on a loan which never came through," said N L Pujara, general manager (administration) and the joint director of GSRTC. The corporation had approached the Housing and Urban Development Corporation for a loan of Rs 500 crore for purchasing new buses for the fleet. "But the corporation is finding it difficult to fulfil the elaborate formalities and conditions put forth before by HUDCO," said Pujara. He said because of the complex pre-requisites being sought by HUDCO against the loan, the project now seems non-viable.

Officials of the department, however, said considering the liabilities of the GSRTC, the HUDCO sees no scope in getting the loan repaid. "Complicating the procedures is just a tactic adopted by financing company, as it's not interested in the deal," said a senior official of the department.

The Botad and Kodinar terminuses were the first ones to be developed under the built-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme. They were to be handed over to CRISIL-approved promoters for development. But the projects which were to kick off by end of year 2000 are yet to begin.

"Tenders were invited and the promoters of both the projects have been identified" said financial advisor KD Kotecha. While Botad was being developed at an cost of Rs 366 lakh the cost to develop Kodinar was about Rs 75 lakh. "'The work order would be awarded to the respective promoters shortly", officials said.

Under the ambitions plan the bus terminuses are to have a marble-fitted decor with internet cafes, automatic vending machines, restaurants, shops having all necessary consumer items on shelves and proper public convenience facilities.

The future of the remaining bus terminuses is uncertain as of now as the corporations is no found willing promoters. "We are willing to get the terminuses developed but not many promoters were coming forward" said GM (traffic) Bakul Chandra Bhatt.

According to Bhatt, the investment into the development of these terminuses has to come from legitimate sources of income. "Due to such norms many people were not willing to invest" he said. Kapadvanj, however, the constituency of the transport minister Bimal Shah, which never featured in the initial phase of development now has a developed terminus.

It would still be long before the bus passengers of the state are relieved from many more journeys on ill-maintained, rattling old buses, to nondescript destinations, extending no public utilities with not even the facilities of public convenience in sight.

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


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