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June 22, 2001 - June 22, 2001

Cable operators rule the roost in Ahmedabad Friday, June 22, 2001

By Sourav Mukherjee, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD, June 21: Pay channels could be losing anything above Rs 25 crore every year because of under-reporting of the number of cable connections in the city.

As per official statistics, only 8.12 per cent of the households in Ahmedabad are lucky enough to have a cable connection. However, the figure, according to unofficial estimates, could be as high as 33 per cent.

Officials themselves admit there is something terribly wrong with the figures. Going by the official figures available at the Ahmedabad collectorate, the 45-lakh population (or around nine lakh households) of the city have only 73,077 registered cable television connections.

Compare these figures to those of Vadodara where 25 per cent of households have cable connections or Surat where 19.64 per cent have access to the channels. And even these figures are grossly understated!

Because of this under-reporting, both pay channels and the government are suffering huge financial losses. More ominously, the cable network business is becoming so lucrative that all sorts of underworld elements and politicians are involved in a big way.

"At present our monthly collection of entertainment tax from the cable companies is Rs 4,38,462, calculated at the rate of Rs 6 for every connection. But according to sample surveys carried out by our officials the actual number of cable TV connections could be up to 3 lakh," disclose sources.

Each cable connection with Star, Star Sports, Discovery, DD (Sports), HBO, TNT/Cartoon Network, CNBC, Set Max, AXN, Hallmark and Zee as its highlights literally means paying up Rs 109.75 every month. Which, of course, every home with a cable connection is doing. But the amount never reaches the companies in an estimated one out of five cases.

A cable operator with 1,000 connections who discloses only 200 would pay the companies just Rs 21,950 instead of Rs 1,09,750 he actually owes them. With the estimated undisclosed connections crossing the 2.25-lakh mark, the amount of pay-channel "theft" assumes enormous proportions - Rs 2.30 crore every month and almost Rs 27.50 crore every year.

An official of Zee TV, major stake-holders in Siti Cable which has the largest cable network in Ahmedabad, says, "The foul play stems from the sub-operators who actually reach the connections to the houses. Every time we sit across the table with our operators we coax them to declare more number of cable connections."

Laments a senior collectorate official, "We don't know who to levy the entertainment tax on. The cable operators say they pass on all earnings to the network controllers, the cable companies. While the cable companies pass the buck back to the small-time cable operators and have even obtained stays from courts."

While this has become a brain-teaser for the collectorate's revenue department, it also means that Amdavadis (in many areas) may be paying Rs 6 as entertainment tax to the cable operators instead of the government.

"The entertainment tax amount of all illegal, unregistered connections is pocketed by the operators or the companies," informs a deputy collector.

With neither the Gujarat Entertainment Tax Act, the TV Regulation Act or the Bombay Cinema Act providing any teeth to the district collectorate, the status quo has remained for years together.

"There may be some tax evasion and we have been dealing with the problem at our offices and in the courts," says Bipin Bhatt, additional resident deputy collector in-charge of entertainment tax. "We have not been able to focus on this revenue-collection problem because of natural calamities like the earthquake, threat of cyclone and now monsoon," reasons Bhatt.

Sources say the Ahmedabad collectorate is planning to move the court to untie the legal knot which is resulting in heavy losses in revenue collection and also creating a law and order problem because of frequent clashes between cable operators.

A series of meeting held last week between senior officials and the collector focussed on the legal loopholes and discussed ways to plug these.

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

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Exports from Gujarat should focus on Europe Friday, June 22, 2001

The Times of India
AHMEDABAD, June 21: Exporters of Gujarat should use the Antwerp Port, the second largest port in Europe, as their gateway, a representative of Antwerp Port Trust Federation said here on Thursday.

The port extended well beyond Europe and gave access to Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Austria and Italy, federation representative Marc Van Daele, said while addressing members of the chamber, leading exporters and importers of the state at a meeting organised under the auspices of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Giving the statistical outline of the port, he said that the port provided for modern state-of-the-art facilities, including door-to-door transportation facilities. It handles 430 million tonne of cargo every year of which 55 per cent cargo belongs to countries outside Belgium.

The entire port area of Antwerp was a tax-free zone where duty-free bonded warehousing facilities are available. Out of 20 major shipping lines of the world, 19 shipping lines make a weekly call to the Antwerp Port, he added.

The chamber president Ratanprakash Gupta sought assistance from the Belgian counterparts for upgradation and modernisation in the infrastructure and industrial sector in Gujarat. (PTI)

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

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GCCI hails Centre's decision on Madhavpura Bank Friday, June 22, 2001

The Times of India
AHMEDABAD, June 21: Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ratanprakash Gupta on Thursday welcomed the Centre's as well as state government's decision to restart the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank (MMCB).

"The much awaited step is the initiative in the right direction as it will boost the entire co-operative banking sector of the state," Gupta said in a release here.

Moreover, it would enhance the faith reposed by the people of Gujarat in the co-operative sector, which had been badly shaken by the crisis, Gupta said.

He complimented the efforts made by Union home minister L.K. Advani and Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel for resolving the matter and for keeping the promise given to the people of the state and depositers of the bank.

Gupta welcomed the Rs 1,264 crore package evolved by the Centre to rejuvenate the bank.

Under the package, Rs 800 crore will be given by the co-operative banks of Gujarat and the rest would be given as an interest free loan for 10 years by the deposit insurance and credit guarantee corporation.

The Centre and state government would give guarantees for the amount to the co-operative banks of Gujarat to the extent of 70 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. (PTI)

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

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Tremor triggers panic Friday, June 22, 2001

The Times of India News Service
BHUJ, June 21: A tremor, reportedly measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale, rocked several parts of Kutch around 7.50 pm on Thursday bringing people out of their cracked homes and on to the streets.

The tremor, which was the second major one in two days, caused fresh cracks to appear in some buildings in Bhuj and Anjar.

The tremor lasted for about 20 seconds and its intensity reduced considerably after the first ten seconds, according to the seismograph office at Bhuj. The tremor created a fresh wave of panic in the district which was devastated by the earthquake on January 26.

Kutch district collector H N Chibber said "This is the strongest tremor I have felt for a long time even though it did not last too long." About half-an-hour after the incident, Chibber said he had no information of any damage to life or property.

The seismograph office said four other minor tremors were recorded during the day on Thursday.

Police officials at the control room also rushed out of their office blocks . Later, officials were trying to call up police points to find out if there was any damage.

Patients of the Purna Nursing Home in Anjar along with those daring to use damaged structures for shelter in the rainy season came rushing out. "Since the past 10 days the intensity of tremors has been slowly growing. A similar tremor had shaken us out of sleep around Wednesday midnight," a resident of Anjar said.

Dr Shyam Sunder of the nursing home said: "Despite getting the hospital building repaired by structural engineers of repute from Mumbai, the building has developed cracks after repeated tremors. If such is the case with a sturdy building God only knows what havoc the tremors will cause to the countless structures that are on the verge of collapse."

In Gandhidham, businessman Jayantilal Thakkar who was near the Old Court Road when the tremor struck saw patients from Ashadeep Eye Hospital rush out in panic.

"Though it (the tremor) did not cause any physical damage, high-intensity tremors during the past week have left Kutchis scared just when they thought life was becoming normal," he said.

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

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National jewellery design institute in Gandhinagar Friday, June 22, 2001

AHMEDABAD, June 22: A National Institute of Jewellery Design, forming part of Dhirajba Gordhandas Zaveri Education and Research Foundation, is being set up in Gandhinagar by the year end at a cost of Rs 13 crore.

The institute would be a centre of excellence in information, design, manufacturing and sales of designer jewellery, according to foundation chairman Dinesh Zaveri.

The institute would be acquiring 17 acres of land in the state capital to build a full-time institute to cater to education on design, craft, gemology, technology and enterpreneurship within the industry, Zaveri said here on Thursday.

The spotlight was upon an information bank for jewellery design and promotion of jewellery related innovations, he said, adding, the institute would offer short and long term programmes for companies and jewellers to cover the needs of manufacturing, display, sales, marketing and consultation.

It would conduct pilot programmes in jewellery design in addition to planning other associated pilot projects, he added. (PTI)

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

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