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June 24, 2001 - June 24, 2001

Women constables are new face of police force Sunday, June 24, 2001

The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: Had it not been for the khakhi uniform, you would have mistaken them for five star hotel staff. Not surprising, because many of the police personnel stationed at the swanky new Police Bhavan here have undergone training in hospitality at leading hotels.

Walk into the Police Bhavan and your image of uncouth policeman sitting inside dingy rooms drooling over dusty files or barking at strangers will vanish. Instead, young, smiling woman constables welcome you at the reception with a polished "May I help you, Sir?" Instead of khakhi these constables wear different sets of sarees each day of the week.

At every floor of the Police Bhavan a constable has been posted to guide visitors to various offices. He or she will also inform you about the tasks of the respective offices, help fill the forms and draft letters.

The offices sport exquisite woodwork and plush interior. The flooring is of marble and granite. A glance at the hi-tech control room and the cops at work there, and you can't help comparing them with scenes from Hollywood movies that show FBI agents working from inside panelled offices trying to crack a difficult case.

"This building was meant for the police but nobody had occupied it. We decided to move in and I thought it was better to usher in some changes. The office should look good and reflect the new attitude and culture of the police," says police commissioner J Mahapatra.

Three floors of the multi-storied Police Bhavan have been furnished and house offices of the commissioner of police, additional commissioners, deputy and assistant commissioners, prevention of crime branch, special branch, the administrative wing and the control room. Over Rs 40 lakh has been spent on the decor and design so far.

"We got funds from the Gujarat Police Housing Corporation. Besides we had collected money from the tattoo show we organised last year. By changing the office ambience we wanted to expose the staff to a new kind of working atmosphere, something they had never seen or even imagined in a government office," explains Mahapatra.

He claims the idea has clicked and the morale of the force has improved. "When we provide them a better physical environment we are actually providing them a better mental space. The stress factor reduces considerably."

Before shifting to the new office, Mahapatra insisted on training his staff in dealing with the public. Those police personnel who come in direct contact with the public were sent for training at leading hotels.

"They have to treat citizens as customers. The idea is to serve them well and for that certain changes in behaviour were necessary," says assistant commissioner of police (command and control room) Noel Parmar.

He, too vouches the training concept has worked and the staff now recognise the importance of leaving a good first impression on citizens. Keeping the politeness factor in mind, only woman constables were picked up for reception and control room duties.

"We like working in this office. The atmosphere is very good. We had never imagined that all this was possible in a police job," says constable Neepa of the control room.

"It is a different feeling. Its very refreshing working in this new office," remarks PCB police inspector Kiritsinh Jhala.

Every evening, after the day's job is over, the cops try their hand at a game of table tennis. The Police Bhavan has a recreation room with provision for indoor games, and a library.

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


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NEERI help sought to tackle red worm menace Sunday, June 24, 2001

The Times of India News Service
SURAT, June 23: The Surat municipal corporation has sought the help of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute to combat the red-worm problem which still continues to prevail in the city.

Contrary to SMC's claims that the problem could be solved once the fresh water comes into the city weir, worms were spotted in more areas at Randher. Water was released into the main weir from Kakrapar dam to cause an outflow as stagnation led to breeding of these worms in a large umber. Despite the release of water and the weir being overflowed for the past three days, worms surfaced in more localities.

Municipal commissioner GP Mohapatra, however, said these were residual worms and eggs. That would still take some time to clear out. "Though it is still being reported the intensity has reduced and the traces of the red worms would take a few more days", he said.

First sighted primarily in the Udhna area, they were now being spotted in more areas though it's been almost four days that the weir was being overflowed. "The water quality which initially had a yellow tinge has also become clear now", the commissioner said.

Mohapatra admitting that the worms were giving a tough time to the municipality said, "we have since Wednesday adopted the super chlorination method used by the Reliance for its treatment plant, but the process of controlling the situation was still on."

Industrial units at Hazira, which draw water from the same weir have also complained about the chironomus (red worm) problem. They have their own water treatment and purifying plants, though.

Despite this, they have represented to the municipality to stop the illegal disposal of sewage into the river Tapti by several population clusters. The sewer mixes with the water in the upstream area and eventually gets accumulated in the weir. The domestic sewage along with algae in the stagnant weir water facilitates the growth of red worm, admits Mohapatra adding, 'we have assured the units that sewage disposal would be organised in a time bound manner'.

Meanwhile, Mohapatra said apart from trying out all conventional methods, the SMC has also sought NEERI expertise to handle the situation.

"The officials would be here in a day or two", he said on Friday.

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


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Stronger aftershocks could be on way Sunday, June 24, 2001

The Times of India News Service
VADODARA/AHMEDABAD, June 23: Earthquakes are like a family, they come in clusters, say some of the best-known seismologists of the country. And even as Kutchis run scared after two strong tremors over the past two days, scientists say there are more of the family still to come.

Dr J G Negi, emeritus scientist at the National Geophysical Research Institute, says the aftershocks of the January 26 quake which are being experienced in Kutch this week could continue for a very long time. Even the Anjar quake of July 25, 1956 (measuring 7 on the Richter scale) was followed by smaller quakes on April 26, 1958, (4.3 on the Richter scale) and March 26, 1964 (5.3 on the Richter scale).

Negi says the January 26 quake could produce aftershocks of magnitude up to 6.5 on Richter scale. "Bigger the earthquake, bigger are the aftershocks," he explains.

More recent earthquakes in the world have also shown that this is not an isolated phenomenon. The Sumatra quake on June 5, 2000 (7.9 on the Richter scale) was followed by strong aftershocks on February 13, 2001 (7.3 on the Richter scale) and June 15, 2001 (5.1 on the Richter scale).

The family concept is also substantiated by the Taiwan quake on September 21, 1999 (measuring 7.6) which was followed by two aftershocks on June 10, 2001 (4.5 and 4.3 on the Richter scale) and then a rapid-fire 4.8 on June 13, 5.6 on June 14 and 5.1 on June 15. The Great Alaska quake in 1964 was, in fact, followed by thousands of aftershocks, while the Assam earthquake in 1950 was followed by hundreds of aftershocks.

The trend shows that big earthquakes could be followed by strong tremors even eight years after the big event, says Negi, adding the Kutch quake of 2001 deformed the region and will produce stress in the ruptured fault system. The present tremors centred in the sparsely inhabited Rann of Kutch have been occurring at a depth of around 20 to 30 kilometres.

Negi warns that if the centre shifts to a populated area there could be widespread damage. This is why the Gujarat government should study the phenomenon carefully and take all mitigation measures, like enforcing a strict building code, he says. The Kutch quake had shown strong linkages with Ahmedabad, where widespread damage was caused and if the same linkage continues in future aftershocks there could be more damage in the city.

According to professor of geology at MS University and an expert in geo-tectonic activity in the Kutch region, R V Karanth, earthquakes are caused when stress building up on rocks goes beyond the elastic limit resulting in rupture in the rock followed by creation of a fault through which energy is released.

"When this fault is regular, energy is released all of a sudden. But, when this fault plain is irregular, energy is released in phases, little by little, as it moves towards a state of equilibrium. This phase-wise release of energy accounts for aftershocks which can carry on for months," says Karanth.

Karanth, however, feels that these aftershocks are always minor and should not be a cause for worry. "Though such aftershocks may carry on for some more months, the magnitude will not be very high," he says. Karanth feels that such aftershocks will continue till an equilibrium is reached.

"If the position announced by the IMD is correct, then it is a position from which aftershocks can emanate and which is not absolutely unusual for six months. If it is an aftershock it could be dying down. But if the location is different or erroneous then one cannot rule out the probability of a fresh earthquake," says city-based physicist Dr Mukul Sinha, whose study on location of the epicentre has been hailed by the India Meteorology Department and Gujarat High Court.

He explains that since the energy inside the earth would be dying down, too many aftershocks are not likely.

Yet another city-based physicist who prefers to remain anonymous, however, believes that the aftershocks would have died by May. "If the intensity is 4.8 as suggested in the reports, it seems to be slightly higher for an aftershock. Though one cannot claim that it was a fresh earthquake, the higher magnitude does indicate such chances."

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


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Dy minister alleges victimisation of Kolis Sunday, June 24, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT, June 23: Koli leader and deputy minister for labour and employment Purshottam Solanki has sparked yet another controversy by writing to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel on the recent killing of several persons in a clash between Koli and Gadhvi communities over a land dispute in Kutch district.

In the letter, Solanki has alleged that the police had failed to initiate prompt action and, instead, was trying to implicate Koli community members.

Urging Keshubhai to be a mediator, Solanki said some people in Kutch district were trying to implicate the Koli community members because of an old enmity. He demanded the CM institute an impartial inquiry and take action against those who had failed to maintain the law and order situation.

Solanki, besides demanding adequate police bandobast in the area, also requested the CM to take steps to restore harmony among the people.

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


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CHARIOTS OF WORSHIP TAKE THE ROAD TO HARMONY Sunday, June 24, 2001

AsianAge
Ahmedabad, June 23: In keeping with the traditional fanfare the 124th rathyatra commenced from the Jagannathpuri temple and passed off peacefully. From early in the morning the temple witnessed huge crowds trying to get inside for the darshan of Lord Krishna, Balram, and Subhadra.

At least 13 elephants and 100 trucks from all over the city and state took part in the procession. The place was alive with chants of Jai Ranchod, Makhan Chor and Hare Ram Hare Krishna and even the tiny terraces were packed to get a glimpse of the rath.

The chief minister, Mr Keshubhai Patel, arrived at the temple and offered prayers at the shrine. Adequate security measures had been taken to control crowds, with members of youth associations coming forward to assist in the management. The akhadas were conspicious by their absence. Except for a few volunteers from select akhadas to serve water to the devotees, most of them abstained from the celebrations to express their solidarity with those affected by the earthquake.

From the temple, the rathyatra headed for the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The mahantji came to AMC and as per the tradition was greeted by the entire elected wing and officers, led by the mayor, Mr Himmatsingh Patel, Badruddin Sheikh, chairman of the standing committee, municipal commissioner, K. Kailashnathan, deputy mayor, Khemchand Solanki, leader of opposition, Dharmendrasingh Shah and others.

This symbolised the city greeting the rathyatra and as per the tradition, the Mahantji blessed the city and the devotees. He distributed the saffron sash, symbolic of the Rathyatra and the ugadela maag as prasad.

The mayor, deputy municipal commissioner Pinakin Dixit and other city elders garlanded the deities in their raths as it passed the AMC gates.

The ‘believers’ were delighted that it rained exactly at the time the first rath rolled near the AMC gates. Considered as a blessing, the belief is that if it rains during the rathyatra, it abodes well for the monsoon and is a good omen for the coming year.

As the trucks passed the Manekchowk vegetable market, they were loaded with cucumbers and black berries. The whole procession was just about 8 km long and was to travel a route of 17 kms. However, with the traditional akhadas not performing their art and showing off their valor and skills, the rathyatra was proceeding at a speed faster than usual.

However, some of the akhadais could not resist showing off their muscles and making pyramids and this slowed down the procesison at Dariapur.

While it was announced that loudspeakers would not be a part of the celebrations this year, the blaring sound of loudspeakers greeted the devotees. In Raipur, the loudpeakers announced names of lost children along with the devotional and nationalistic music while in Dariapur, they were singing praises of their own truck proudly greeting and admiring their trucks announcing “aayi rum zum ke aayi..aapne truck aavi.”

The otherwise senstive Dariapur wore a festive look with devotees chanting Jai Ranchod and jai bala Krishna while trucks filled with sadhus thronged through the thin lane amidst heavy police bandobast. The loud speaker constantly blared songs and encouraging messages asking the participants to distributeall the sweets at Dariapur itself. The absence of the regular number of akhadas forced the procession to reach designated spots before schedule.

Crowds from myriad communities were in a frenzy near tambu chowky, rubbing shoulders with local politicians and mahants, seeking well wishes, blessings and offerings.

Salim Chipa, a resident near Tambu chowky, said, “I have been participating in the rathyatra for the past 20 years and the frenzy has certainly fizzled out unlike before. Earlier, one could not even move through the lane till the procession had passed and people from even far flung areas of Gujarat used to come to glimpse the gods and that too in Dariapur.”

According to latest reports, the rathyatra passed peacefully from the Gheekanta crossroads. and was heading towards last phase.

The Rathyatra , which begin in the morning since 7.30 am, reached Ghikanta Char-rasta late in the evening. However this time no Akarhas were included even then the procession took long time. Apart of long convoy of royal rath-yatra, the devotees turned in thousands along the road side, just to have the glimpse of deity. As the procession headed towards the end, a relief could be seen on security personnel though the state police left no stone unturned to ensure smooth passing of the procession.

Approximately 10,000 to 11,000 police personnel were deployed for the event. The state police had also asked for 500 uniform personel from Sabarkanta district. About 100 Rapid Action Force personnel were also deployed.

The Rathyatra was also celebrated in Vadodara with religious fervor on Saturday. The yatra, which started from the railway station, passed through different areas of the city and completed at Kevdabaug.

The Yatra started in the afternoon and thousands of devotees pulled the rath as it passed through the city. The entire procession completed without any untoward incident as the city police kept a close watch throughout the procession.

The procession passed through Sayajigunj, Kothi, Raopura, Nyaymandir, Dandiabazar, Rajmahal road and it ended at Kevdabaug. Leading citizens like the mayor of Vadodara Municipal Corporation, chairman of Gujarat Electricity Board and others also participated in the procession.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]


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