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June 28, 2001 - June 28, 2001

Crop loss due to drought this year Rs 6,881 crore Thursday, June 28, 2001

By a Special Correspondent, The Times of India News Service
GANDHINAGAR, June 28: Latest official figures suggest that Gujarat's farmers have suffered a setback in the shape of crop loss to the tune of Rs 6,881.91 crore on account of drought in 2000-01. However, early rains have given a ray of hope in the state that things would be better in 2001-02. As against a mere 4.03 lakh hectares of land brought under cultivation exactly a year ago, this year 34.96 lakh ha of land has already come under cultivation.

Minister of state for agriculture Becharbhai Bhadani said, "The good beginning is mainly thanks to up to 28 per cent of rainfall having already taken place in Gujarat. Only two talukas of Rajkot district and certain areas of Sabarkantha district are an exception." The production loss due to drought in 2000-01 was 49 per cent in the kharif crop.

"Predictions of good rainfall suggest things would improve this year," Bhadani was hopeful. The production loss in rabi crop loss is expected to be 63.1 per cent. The final figures for rabi are still to be expected, though the break-up suggests that of the Rs 6,882 crore total loss, the kharif loss is 5,442,43 crore, and rabi loss likely to be Rs 1439.38 crore.

Official figures suggest, the main loss to the tune of Rs 2,429.72 crore, or 73 per cent less production than 1998-99, has been on account of the

groundnut crop. The next to come is cotton, with a loss of Rs 1,641.9 crore, or 42 per cent less production than 1998-99. "As against the huge loss, the farmers have got Rs 500 crore as crop insurance for the kharif crop and are likely to get another Rs 150 crore as insurance against the lost rabi crop," an official said.

As for the foodgrains, the production of irrigated wheat went down by 69.88 per cent in 2000-01, with a loss of Rs 981.9 crore, and unirrigated wheat by 59.57 per cent, with a loss of Rs 17.64 crore. Grams with a production loss of 89.6 per cent, showed a cash loss to farmers by Rs 128.1 crore, while rapeseed and mustard showed a 50.96 per cent production loss and a cash loss of Rs 269.97 crore.

Bhadani said, despite the drought, Gujarat has topped the list of states selling certified seeds, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. "As on May 15, Gujarat's seed corporation had sold a huge 40 lakh tonnes of seeds for cotton compared to the internal demand of 23 lakh tonnes, while 25 lakh tonnes for castor compared to 19 lakh tonnes of internal demand. We have been offering very good hybrid quality seeds," he claimed.

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


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Keshavanand exonerated from all charges Thursday, June 28, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The TImes of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has exonerated Swami Keshavanand of Sanatan Ashram Dwarka from all charges for want of satisfactory evidence.

Keshavanand Harinarayan Swami, alias Kamal Vishveshwar Sharma, has already served a 10-year rigorous imprisonment for the rape of a minor girl studying in his ashram school. He was released early calculating other benefits. He also paid fine.

However, the state government had preferred an appeal seeking life sentence on Keshavanand. An appeal was also made by Keshavanand challenging the order of punishment and holding him criminal.

A division Bench comprising Justice BC Patel and Justice AL Dave, after the final hearing of both appeals, dismissed the appeal of the state government while holding the appeal of Keshavanand that he be exonerated.

Keshavanand was exonerated from different charges levelled against him for raping girl students by the sessions court of Jamnagar earlier, but for one levelled by Rita Shah of Jamnagar.

It was alleged that an employee of the ashram, Ravindra Chaubey, had sent the girl into Keshavanand's room, three months prior to April 18, 1994. The girl massaged the swami's legs after he directed her to. The swami then raped her. The act was repeated four to five times.

However, the sessions court had exonerated Chaubey from all charges, but had directed Keshavanand to pay a fine of Rs 35,000 and sentenced him for 10 years.

Senior advocate KJ Shethna appeared for Keshavanand while additional government pleader MA Bukhari appeared for the state government. The court also commented on the way the police had conducted the investigation.

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


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Dry spell causes concern; 50 talukas hit in Saurashtra Thursday, June 28, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT, June 27: The people and authorities alike are concerned over the dry spell in the district. An area of 20 km around the city has been reeling under dry spell after the monsoon had set in early this month.

Now the main concern is the supply of drinking water. All sources of water have dried up and the early rains were the only hope. The district administration is searching for other sources of water.

According to collectorate, the district had recorded just half an inch of rain during the current season. The hope of rain on Asadhi Beej has been dashed and the farmers are fearing the worst.

Collector P.N. Patel said there were chances of rain in the next four to five days. However, if it did not rain, there would be water problem. A meeting s scheduled by the end of this week would chalk out the strategy, he said.

Water supply board officials said that if the rains were delayed extra sources of water would have to be tapped. As Aji-3 water has been reserved for Rajkot. Besides the work on the Maliya canal would be expedited so that the water reaches Rajkot much earlier.

Rajkot was supplied 40 lakh gallons of water from the Narmada and 20 lakh gallons from the Aji-3 dam.

Though it had rained in some parts, drought conditions persisted in 50 talukas of Saurashtra. One reason for the delay in rains was the high velocity winds blowing all over the region.

The farmers had begun sowing but now that the rains were delayed they were looking skywards.

Bhavnagar city and district had recorded the season's highest rainfall: 199 mm in Gadhada and 177 mm in Botad.

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


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Dry spell causes concern; 50 talukas hit in Saurashtra Thursday, June 28, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT, June 28: The people and authorities alike are concerned over the dry spell in the district. An area of 20 km around the city has been reeling under dry spell after the monsoon had set in early this month.

Now the main concern is the supply of drinking water. All sources of water have dried up and the early rains were the only hope. The district administration is searching for other sources of water.

According to collectorate, the district had recorded just half an inch of rain during the current season. The hope of rain on Asadhi Beej has been dashed and the farmers are fearing the worst.

Collector P.N. Patel said there were chances of rain in the next four to five days. However, if it did not rain, there would be water problem. A meeting s scheduled by the end of this week would chalk out the strategy, he said.

Water supply board officials said that if the rains were delayed extra sources of water would have to be tapped. As Aji-3 water has been reserved for Rajkot. Besides the work on the Maliya canal would be expedited so that the water reaches Rajkot much earlier.

Rajkot was supplied 40 lakh gallons of water from the Narmada and 20 lakh gallons from the Aji-3 dam.

Though it had rained in some parts, drought conditions persisted in 50 talukas of Saurashtra. One reason for the delay in rains was the high velocity winds blowing all over the region.

The farmers had begun sowing but now that the rains were delayed they were looking skywards.

Bhavnagar city and district had recorded the season's highest rainfall: 199 mm in Gadhada and 177 mm in Botad.

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


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Public opinion split over Gadar as debate rages Thursday, June 28, 2001

The Times of India News Service
VADODARA/AHMEDABAD: The controversial film Gadar - Ek Prem Kahani continued to run to packed houses in all major cities of Gujarat, albeit under heavy police protection, even as cine-goers were split over whether portions of the film had an 'anti-Muslim' slant while it was being projected as 'patriotic' by the state BJP.

The film has generated a heated debate over certain communally-sensitive scenes in the movie which largely revolves around a love affair between a Sikh boy and a Muslim girl during the partition days. Security has been tightened at all movie halls in the state where the film is being screened after the attack on Sangam cinema in Sarkhej on Sunday night where a group of youths burnt the screen and damaged the theatre.

The controversy seems to have only fuelled the desire of the cine-goers to see the film before it possibly gets censored and all the shows are being screened to full houses in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat. The incident in Sarkhej two days ago was reportedly sparked off during a scene where Tara Singh (Sunny Deol) applies sindoor on the forehead of Sakeena (Amisha Patel) to protect her from a mob.

Hanif Lakdawala, who runs the NGO Sanchetna in Ahmedabad, said, "There is a feeling among some people that since Sakeena was the name of the Prophet's daughter, they can't tolerate this scene." He said though he had not seen the film, he did not agree with the protesters. "The shows must be allowed to go on, this is a democratic country and people should make their own judgement."

A cine-goer in Vadodara, Jamie Fernandes, felt that the anti-Pakistan dialogue could well be construed as anti-Muslim. "It's a controversial movie. The anti-Pakistan dialogues are delivered and presented in such a way that it can well be interpreted as anti-Muslim. It is bound to hurt religious sentiments," Jamie said.

Baba Saheb Kaji, an academician at the Centre for Social Studies, Surat, said, "Nobody should be allowed to make an issue out of it. Rather, it should be left to the public to see or not to see the film. Let the things as portrayed be there. Banning 'Satanic Verses' helped it become a sort of most-sought after book. Likewise, films like `Water' and 'Gadar' should not have been made a propaganda tool."

HK Hakim, advocate and office-bearer of Surat Bar Council, said, "Let the film run; people are free not to watch the film. And if somebody dislikes the film after watching it, he should respect others' feelings. Further, all those who have indulged in hooliganism at theatres and created nuisance should be condemned strongly. As per the Constitution of India, the freedom of expression should be respected by all."

"I think the movie is great. I don't see anything objectionable. Anyway, it is just a movie so why so much fuss about it," said final year BCom student Jagdish Rabari in Vadodara. Incidentally, Rabari had gone to see the movie because he had heard that Gadar was a controversial movie. "That tempted me, but I found nothing objectionable," he said.

Twenty-five-year-old Akash Patel found it ridiculous that people should be protesting against the movie. "The movie has a lot of anti-Pakistan dialogues but that does not justify the protests," Patel said.

"The movie has captured the essence of partition. It has portrayed partition very realistically. Why would one object to what has happened in the past," said Sardar Kamaljit Singh, a teacher with coaching classes.

"I don't think any Indian Muslim will object to this movie. Anti-Pakistan dialogues cannot be interpreted as anti-Muslim. The movie does not depict the community in bad light. Nor has it attacked Muslims per say," said Rekha Mishra.

(With inputs from The Times of India Surat bureau)

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


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