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June 17, 2001 - June 17, 2001

200 disillusioned NGOs back out of Gujarat reconstruction Sunday, June 17, 2001

By Ashraf Sayed, Indo-Asian News Service
Gandhinagar, June 15 (IANS): A large number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have withdrawn from reconstruction efforts in Gujarat's quake-hit Kutch district alleging non-cooperation from the government and locals.

The gradual withdrawal of nearly 200 NGOs from the villages and the continuing confusion over the death toll in the January 26 earthquake have raised many uncomfortable questions for Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel's government.

Adding to Patel's woes, his Karnataka counterpart S.M. Krishna has accused the Gujarat government of not bothering to collect the Rs.300 million that the people of his state donated for relief measures. Krishna has accused the Patel government of adopting an "inhuman" attitude towards the suffering of the quake-hit.

Senior officials in the state secretariat now admit that the NGOs are likely to reconstruct only about 130-150 of the villages originally adopted by them. In the remaining 200 villages the NGOs have either backed out of their commitment or the villagers themselves have refused to get adopted.

Explaining this phenomenon, Hasmukh Adhia, a senior bureaucrat in charge of the village adoption program, said, "The village people have perhaps not preferred NGOs for reconstruction of their houses as they could avail financial help ranging between Rs.40,000 and Rs.90,000 directly from the government for construction of their collapsed houses."

But there are few takers for this theory and the NGOs have been accusing the state administration of non-cooperation and creating more hurdles than solving their problems.

Chief Minister Krishna said his government had collected Rs. 300 million but no one from the Gujarat government has bothered to call him up to take the money. "I don't know what to do with the money," he said. "I am now losing my patience. I have reached a dead end as far as Gujarat is concerned."

"This is a sad commentary on the functioning of the state government even as millions of people are still awaiting the help of the administration even in getting temporary shelters," Amarsinh Chaudhary, the newly appointed Gujarat Congress Party unit president and Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly, told IANS.

Chaudhary said that on the one hand Patel was expressing his helplessness even in paying compensation to the kin of hundreds who died due to shortage of finances and on the other he had not shown the courtesy to call his Karnataka counterpart and collect the money donated.

Chaudhary alleged that the Gujarat government was manipulating the casualty figures to avoid payment of compensation to the relatives of the quake victims. He pointed out that the administration had pegged the death toll at 20,086 some time after the quake, but reduced it to 17,103 on June 1 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to visit Kutch district. Now officials in the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) have put the death toll at 15,537, apparently after the scrutiny of records and claims.

Kutch district chief H.N. Chhibar said attempts were being made to contact some 3,500 claimants who had reported to various agencies the "deaths" of their relatives immediately after the earthquake. "It is my hunch that the toll will not actually cross the 13,000-mark and even that estimate is on the upper side," he said.

Explaining the logic behind his calculation and sudden drop in the death figures, Chhibar said, "The toll was inflated earlier because of a large number of bogus claims as also multiple reporting of deaths." According to a senior official at the GSDMA, "If the toll really falls by 35 percent, or say 7,000, as it is anticipated, it would mean a saving of Rs. 700 million for the government.

Fears expressed by many politicians, including former defense minister George Fernandes, had prompted the prime minister during his visit to Kutch on June 3 and 4 to direct the state administration to settle death claims as early as possible to avoid heart-burn among the surviving relatives.

Vajpayee had expressed unhappiness with the delay in removal of debris from the four major towns of Bhuj, Bhachau, Anjar and Rapar as well as many villages. Vajpayee, who held a two-hour-long session with representatives of various NGOs at Bhuj, had also directed the state government to remove all bottlenecks in the implementation of various relief packages.

News Source : Indo Asian News Service [ No.1 Website for the NRI's ]


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200 disillusioned NGOs back out of Gujarat reconstruction Sunday, June 17, 2001

By Ashraf Sayed, Indo-Asian News Service
Gandhinagar, June 15 (IANS): A large number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have withdrawn from reconstruction efforts in Gujarat's quake-hit Kutch district alleging non-cooperation from the government and locals.

The gradual withdrawal of nearly 200 NGOs from the villages and the continuing confusion over the death toll in the January 26 earthquake have raised many uncomfortable questions for Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel's government.

Adding to Patel's woes, his Karnataka counterpart S.M. Krishna has accused the Gujarat government of not bothering to collect the Rs.300 million that the people of his state donated for relief measures. Krishna has accused the Patel government of adopting an "inhuman" attitude towards the suffering of the quake-hit.

Senior officials in the state secretariat now admit that the NGOs are likely to reconstruct only about 130-150 of the villages originally adopted by them. In the remaining 200 villages the NGOs have either backed out of their commitment or the villagers themselves have refused to get adopted.

Explaining this phenomenon, Hasmukh Adhia, a senior bureaucrat in charge of the village adoption program, said, "The village people have perhaps not preferred NGOs for reconstruction of their houses as they could avail financial help ranging between Rs.40,000 and Rs.90,000 directly from the government for construction of their collapsed houses."

But there are few takers for this theory and the NGOs have been accusing the state administration of non-cooperation and creating more hurdles than solving their problems.

Chief Minister Krishna said his government had collected Rs. 300 million but no one from the Gujarat government has bothered to call him up to take the money. "I don't know what to do with the money," he said. "I am now losing my patience. I have reached a dead end as far as Gujarat is concerned."

"This is a sad commentary on the functioning of the state government even as millions of people are still awaiting the help of the administration even in getting temporary shelters," Amarsinh Chaudhary, the newly appointed Gujarat Congress Party unit president and Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly, told IANS.

Chaudhary said that on the one hand Patel was expressing his helplessness even in paying compensation to the kin of hundreds who died due to shortage of finances and on the other he had not shown the courtesy to call his Karnataka counterpart and collect the money donated.

Chaudhary alleged that the Gujarat government was manipulating the casualty figures to avoid payment of compensation to the relatives of the quake victims. He pointed out that the administration had pegged the death toll at 20,086 some time after the quake, but reduced it to 17,103 on June 1 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to visit Kutch district. Now officials in the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) have put the death toll at 15,537, apparently after the scrutiny of records and claims.

Kutch district chief H.N. Chhibar said attempts were being made to contact some 3,500 claimants who had reported to various agencies the "deaths" of their relatives immediately after the earthquake. "It is my hunch that the toll will not actually cross the 13,000-mark and even that estimate is on the upper side," he said.

Explaining the logic behind his calculation and sudden drop in the death figures, Chhibar said, "The toll was inflated earlier because of a large number of bogus claims as also multiple reporting of deaths." According to a senior official at the GSDMA, "If the toll really falls by 35 percent, or say 7,000, as it is anticipated, it would mean a saving of Rs. 700 million for the government.

Fears expressed by many politicians, including former defense minister George Fernandes, had prompted the prime minister during his visit to Kutch on June 3 and 4 to direct the state administration to settle death claims as early as possible to avoid heart-burn among the surviving relatives.

Vajpayee had expressed unhappiness with the delay in removal of debris from the four major towns of Bhuj, Bhachau, Anjar and Rapar as well as many villages. Vajpayee, who held a two-hour-long session with representatives of various NGOs at Bhuj, had also directed the state government to remove all bottlenecks in the implementation of various relief packages.

News Source : Indo Asian News Service [ No.1 Website for the NRI's ]


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Third floor of school collapses Sunday, June 17, 2001

The Times of India
AHMEDABAD: The third floor of a school building in the worst-quake affected Maninagar area of the city collapsed today.

However, there were no casualties, police and fire brigade sources said.

"Six rooms in the third floor of the school collapsed under the impact of a train passing through a railway track near the institution," sources said.

Nearly 700 people were killed in Ahmedabad, including Maninagar, when over 60 structurally weak multi-storeyed buildings collapsed during the earthquake.

The quake had rendered many buildings, which includes schools, unsafe for dwelling and the repair work was still not over, sources added. (PTI)

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


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Sabarmati Jail becomes abode to high, mighty Sunday, June 17, 2001

By Sonal Kellogg
Ahmedabad, June 15: Besides housing the routine criminals, the Sabarmati Central Jail also houses many people of considerable reputation. Currently the jail houses as many as 78 builders who are here on judicial custody.

It is also a temporary abode for the males of the Choksi family, where father Naresh K Choksi, and sons Prashant N Choksi and Jignesh N Choksi, allegedly involved in the classic gold bullion scam are in judicial custody.

The jail also has Mr Suresh Ghadecha, a relative of the Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Mr Dhirubhai Shah, for the Classic Bank gold bullion fraud. Another name of note is Suresh Aggrawal, owner of Vaishali Silk Palace, who allegedly murdered his girlfriend.

They live along with the 1,193 convicts and about 1,000 odd undertrails housed at the Sabarmati Central Jail sharing the same amenities accorded to all undertrails. Incidentally, undertrails have more privileges than the convicts do.

They can use their own beds, own clothes, get food from their house and get newspaper from their homes. So they are relatively better off than the convicts housed there. But Senior Jailor, A B Makwana, said the builders and other high profile prisoners are the most unhappy lot here, though we make all possible efforts to give them the best according to the rules.

But he said that all they want is bail and get out of the prison. After the builders complained of the heat and inadequate facilities, the jail authorities installed more fans in the barracks to increase the airflow.

But Mr Makwana said that for someone used to air conditioners, mere fans would not serve the purpose. Many builders are over 50 years and suffer from various health ailments like blood pressure and heart problems.

Mr Bagadiya, a builder jailed after he surrendered at Paldi police station has developed hernia and prostrate problem after being jailed. He has been taken to the civil hospital on several occasions and has to be hospitalised for his heart problem at the civil hospital.

His wife Sehmida Bagadiya said that though he is sick he is always handcuffed and roped when taken to the hospital. Mr Suresh Patel who is a member of the Builders Association said that even though undertrails should not be handcuffed the builders are handcuffed whenever they are taken to the court or anywhere else.

It was only after they appealed to the Human Rights Commission that they stopped handcuffing them when they are taken outside the jail. All the families of the arrested are facing acute problems due to the arrests of their menfolk.

Many children of builders refuse to go to school because of the peer pressure and fearing ridicule from their friends. Wives of all the builders are at their wits end trying to cope with social pressures. All of the builders and their family members hope that they will be granted bail and will get out soon.

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


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CCB scam: Court denies bail Sunday, June 17, 2001

Ahmedabad, June 15: CBI special judge H.B. Antani once again rejected the bail application of Classic Cooperative Bank manager Suresh Gadhecha and the father-son duo of Naresh and Prashant Choksi of the K.L. Choksi firm in the Rs 47.26 crores pay order fraud and cheating case.

The three had filed for bail on medical grounds. It may be recalled that the court had earlier rejected their bail application on May 18, 2000. Gadhcha had cleared the pay orders of Rs 47.26 crores of the K.L. Choksi firm to allow its partners to take gold worth the amount from the overseas branch of the state bank.

Later, when the SBI had sent the pay order for collection, the Classic Bank had sent it back due to lack of funds. The deputy general manager (vigilance) of the overseas branch had filed a complaint with the CBI on the basis of which the CBI had arrested the Gadhecha and Choksi.

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