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June 13, 2001 - June 13, 2001

Chaudhary would step down as CLP leader Wednesday, June 13, 2001

The Times of India
AHMEDABAD: Newly-appointed Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Amarsinh Chaudhary on Tuesday said he would step down as the leader of Congress legislature party if the party high command directed him to do so.

Asked what would be his priority, Chaudhary said it was to strengthen the Congress organisation in Gujarat and added that he would discuss issues with senior leaders before taking any decision relating to the party.

On the Congress-ruled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's decision to rescind a resolution of the BJP brought when the latter was in power in 1990 to rename the city as 'Karnavati', he said, "it was BJP's failure as it had not succeeded in doing what it had intended." (PTI)
p>News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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Earthquake death count falls sharply after scrutiny Wednesday, June 13, 2001

By Bharat Desai, The Times of India
AHMEDABAD: The dead are not really walking out alive of the debris strewn around the Kutch countryside but the Gujarat government figures are showing a sharp fall in the death toll in the January 26 earthquake.

From a peak of 20083 deaths as on April 1 , the official figure dropped to 17103 as on June 1 and currently stands at 15537 after scrutiny of records and claims. Even that figure is poised for a sharp downward revision in the next one month, if officials are to be believed.

Attempts are being made to contact some 3500 claimants who had reported to various agencies the 'death' of their relatives immediately after the earthquake . Kutch district collector H N Chibber told TOI "it is my hunch that the death toll will not actually cross the 13000 mark and even that estimate is on the upper side". The death figure was inflated earlier because of a large number of bogus claims and also multiple reporting of deaths.

The Gujarat Government does not appear to be very keen on publicising these new estimates out of fear that it may undermine the magnitude of the disaster at a time when it is seeking aid from all over the world for a catastrophe which was undoubtably the biggest natural disaster ever. However , the nose-dive that the death toll has taken by almost a quarter and a further anticipated fall is raising question marks about the entire process of registration of deaths in the first place.

Further , the figures may raise the hackles of the likes of former Defence Minister George Fernandes who had earlier predicted a death toll of one lakh and, during a visit last month to Kutch and other affected areas, had criticised the handling of the earthquake rehabilitation programme. During the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Kutch on June 3 and 4 also, there was pressure brohght upon the state government to settle the death claims early as complaints about the delay had reached the prime minister's office (PMO).

The figure of the death toll given to the PM in a presentation made by state government officials before his recent visit was 17103. However , the fact is that so far , compensation of Rs 1 lakh each has been paid to the next kin in only confirmed 11950 cases . Another 3500 cases , where the relatives who had filed claims after reporting deaths , were still being processed as the claimants cannot be traced. "We have sent them numerous notices but they have not responded, we have even issued advertisements in newspapers but them have not turned up ", said Chibber.

The figure has dropped because of various reasons , said an official of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA). Initially, the mamlatdar , municipality, police and town development officer were also registering the death cases. Upon tallying these figures , it was found that the same deaths had been registered with different agencies. "Sometimes , these deaths were registered in different towns , perhaps the claimants thought they could get compensation twice ".

However, the state government adopted a policy of "liberal registration and strict verification" which led to the detection of these cases. "There were a lot of bogus claims too, for example a claim was filed on behalf of a Kutch woman staying in Mumbai who said on affidavit that her husband had died in Bhuj. The woman , on being contacted , clarified that her husband was still alive and that she had never filed such a claim". There have also been cases of claims being filed by relatives of persons who died months , or even years, before the earthquake.

Officials suspect that a lot of the 3500 claims , where the relatives are untraceable, could be bogus and the claimants are afraid of coming forward out of fear of being caught. If the death toll really falls by 35 per cent , or 7000 , as is anticipated, it would mean a saving of Rs 70 crores for the government in ex- gratia alone. "But we are not counting the money , we would like to pay compensation to all the legitimate claims", says Chibber.
p>News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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Earthquake death count falls sharply after scrutiny Wednesday, June 13, 2001

By Bharat Desai, The Times of India
AHMEDABAD: The dead are not really walking out alive of the debris strewn around the Kutch countryside but the Gujarat government figures are showing a sharp fall in the death toll in the January 26 earthquake.

From a peak of 20083 deaths as on April 1 , the official figure dropped to 17103 as on June 1 and currently stands at 15537 after scrutiny of records and claims. Even that figure is poised for a sharp downward revision in the next one month, if officials are to be believed.

Attempts are being made to contact some 3500 claimants who had reported to various agencies the 'death' of their relatives immediately after the earthquake . Kutch district collector H N Chibber told TOI "it is my hunch that the death toll will not actually cross the 13000 mark and even that estimate is on the upper side". The death figure was inflated earlier because of a large number of bogus claims and also multiple reporting of deaths.

The Gujarat Government does not appear to be very keen on publicising these new estimates out of fear that it may undermine the magnitude of the disaster at a time when it is seeking aid from all over the world for a catastrophe which was undoubtably the biggest natural disaster ever. However , the nose-dive that the death toll has taken by almost a quarter and a further anticipated fall is raising question marks about the entire process of registration of deaths in the first place.

Further , the figures may raise the hackles of the likes of former Defence Minister George Fernandes who had earlier predicted a death toll of one lakh and, during a visit last month to Kutch and other affected areas, had criticised the handling of the earthquake rehabilitation programme. During the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Kutch on June 3 and 4 also, there was pressure brohght upon the state government to settle the death claims early as complaints about the delay had reached the prime minister's office (PMO).

The figure of the death toll given to the PM in a presentation made by state government officials before his recent visit was 17103. However , the fact is that so far , compensation of Rs 1 lakh each has been paid to the next kin in only confirmed 11950 cases . Another 3500 cases , where the relatives who had filed claims after reporting deaths , were still being processed as the claimants cannot be traced. "We have sent them numerous notices but they have not responded, we have even issued advertisements in newspapers but them have not turned up ", said Chibber.

The figure has dropped because of various reasons , said an official of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA). Initially, the mamlatdar , municipality, police and town development officer were also registering the death cases. Upon tallying these figures , it was found that the same deaths had been registered with different agencies. "Sometimes , these deaths were registered in different towns , perhaps the claimants thought they could get compensation twice ".

However, the state government adopted a policy of "liberal registration and strict verification" which led to the detection of these cases. "There were a lot of bogus claims too, for example a claim was filed on behalf of a Kutch woman staying in Mumbai who said on affidavit that her husband had died in Bhuj. The woman , on being contacted , clarified that her husband was still alive and that she had never filed such a claim". There have also been cases of claims being filed by relatives of persons who died months , or even years, before the earthquake.

Officials suspect that a lot of the 3500 claims , where the relatives are untraceable, could be bogus and the claimants are afraid of coming forward out of fear of being caught. If the death toll really falls by 35 per cent , or 7000 , as is anticipated, it would mean a saving of Rs 70 crores for the government in ex- gratia alone. "But we are not counting the money , we would like to pay compensation to all the legitimate claims", says Chibber.
p>News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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Red bhajiyas and pouring rain set mood Wednesday, June 13, 2001

By Tejas Patel, AsianAge
Ahmedabad, June 12: The pouring rain may conjure up romanitc images to some people, but for most of the Amdavadis it is time to relish bhajiyas, dalwadas, chana jor garam, makkai na bhutta and samosas, washing them down with masalawali chay.

Spicy and tongue treating bhajiyas and chay have become an ingrained norm of the rainy life of the city. It has become a sort of gastronomic ritual for Many Amdavadis. Sometimes, rain creates such a bhajiya frenzy that if one is late to reach a vendor, he is sure to watch him packing off to home, after total sell out.

Due to cloudy weather and pleasant showers in past few days, the vendors are doing a roaring business. The number of customers of bhajiya and dalwada vendors has increased considerably and so have their sales in last few days.

“The number of customers coming here increase dramatically during monsoon, which results in a huge increase in our income. In fact, in last few days the vendors have registered the increase of more than 100 customers a day and our income has increased by around Rs 1500 a day,” said a dalwada vendor located near Law College. He says,”people from all walks of life come here to taste our dalwadas.” The vendors charge Rs 7 for a plate of dalwada and samosas.

The scene is same in the other parts of the city. The vendors at C G Road, Gujarat College, Ashram Road, Raipur, Khada na Bhajiya near Gandhigram crossing, Maninagar and other areas of the city admit that there has been an increase in the number of their customers during monsoon. “We have a boom time during monsoon as the demand for our bhajiyas and dalwadas increases during these days.

In the Last few days the number of customers has increased by more than 150 and the revenues by Rs 2000 and we have to work round the clock to meet their demands,” said a dalwada vendor on C G Road.

“We really enjoy eating out during monsoons as it is fun eating some spicy food during rainy days,” said one of the food enthusiast Chirag Patel, who always freaks out to eat dalwadas at Law Garden during rains. According to a housewife, who loves to eat such food, “Its fun to move out with friends and relatives to eat dalwadas especially, when it is raining as we don’t want to cook anything at home.”

Apart from dalwadas, bhajiyas and samosas, monsoon is also a great time for the chana zor garam and the makkai Na bhutta vendors. According to a chana chor garam vendor, his sales have already increased in the wake of rains in last few days.

Similarly, makkaiwalas are also been seen in the streets for last few days. “Our season starts from the arrival of monsoon and we earn a lot during these days. I had just started selling makkai since last few days and I am earning more than Rs 500 these days and it will increase with the progression of the monsoon,” says a makkaiwala near Law Garden.

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


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Depositors of MMCB take their protest to BJP office Wednesday, June 13, 2001

AsianAge
Ahmedabad June 12: The Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank depositors ransacked the office of BJP at Khanpur on Tuesday where they demanded the resignation of state cooperative minister Raman Vora. In turn, the BJP workers resorted to the use of force to throw the depositors out of their office.

MMCB workers were put off by the statements of Mr Vora, published in some newspapers, regarding the revival process of the MMCB. The president of the MMCB depositors association, Mr Jitu Shah, said that they had decided to give memorandum, demanding resignation of Mr Vora over his irresponsible statement about the MMCB revival.

Mr Shah claimed, “When we went to the BJP office to submit the memorandum, the workers started beating us without any reason.’’ One depositor said that even elderly people were beaten up by the BJP workers. “A 75-year-old depositor was also beaten up in the process,” he claimed.

However, the BJP had a different version to say. Navin Patel of BJP media cell said that the depositors came, started ransacking the BJP office and broke some of the glasses.

The depositors sat on ‘dharna’ outside the office and they also lodged a complaint with the city police, which was later withdrawn. Later, Mr Vora declined that he had made any irresponsible statement for the revival of MMCB.

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


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