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June 12, 2001 - June 12, 2001

Born out of labour: Children seek rights Tuesday, June 12, 2001

By Samarjit Guha, AsianAge

Ahmedabad, June 11: Physically they might look as different as chalk from cheese but the glow of anticipation they give to Kailash Satyarthi in unison makes them children of the same parent. And why not? Wasn’t it only the other day, Satarupa, 12, was working day and night at a stone quarry or Soni from Punjab was almost sacrificed by his parents since a tantrik branded him as “ill omen.”

Similarly, Kaushalya from Chattisgarh would have never learnt to write alphabets if she was not taken out of her employment of domestic help or Kalu yanked away from a dingy room in Mirzapur where he learnt to weave carpets under unhygienic conditions.

All this and almost 55,000 children have been rescued by Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan and needless to add, the smile of gratitude on their faces is welcoming enough for Satyarthi and his team of enthusiastic members.

Like any other organisation that has noble objectives in mind, BBA which falls under South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude also has run its due course of government apathy, lack of awareness and unprecedented resistances during rescue and raid operations but in a rather novel move they have decided to involve celebrities in helping the cause.

Does it help? “It does help a little to garner media attention but more than that often the celebs get involved and do their own bit to champion for our objectives,” says Rakesh Sengar, campaigner for Bachapan Bachao Andolan.

So, while in Ahmedabad, the group was going through Shiksha Yatra that culminated in a rally on June 11 between Gandhi Ashram and RTO, they involved filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actor Gulshan Grover in the cause.

Incidentally, Bhatt has made a film on the bonded child labour called Girvi (that was once supposed to star his son Sunny) which was directed by his actress wife Soni Razdan. “The basic conceptualisation was done by us,” says Sengar.

Earlier, the group had taken Manisha Koirala and Anupam Kher to the interiors of Jharkhand during an educational programme and both Sathyarthi and Sengar say that the actors were sincereity personified. “Neither Koirala or Kher kicked up a fuss about travelling to the interiors in abject conditions.”

The group is planning to take the rally to Jaipur. Noted filmmaker and actress Deepti Naval’s former husband Prakash Jha would be roped in to campaign for the issue. From time to time. the group has invited celebrities like Kaifi Azmi, Neena Gupta, Manohar Singh and NSD’s Ramgopal Bajaj to boost the spirit of the children and draw media attention.

Clearly, it helps the children of the lesser god something to fall back on when the pangs of homesickness hit them. For example, Kalu who was taken to Washington to meet the then US President Bill Clinton cannot stop raving about the plane ride that he took for the first time. Or little Vishwanath from Midnapore who narrates how “bad man” Gulshan Grover ruffled his hair and gave him a warm smile.

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

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AMC monsoon plan covers quake issues Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Ahmedabad, June 11: The pre-monsoon action plan this year is done with the special focus on the effect of the earthquake on the city, said the municipal commissioner, K. Kailashnathan at a press conference here on Monday.

A special map highlighting the areas that were flooded last year is made and care is taken to see that water logging does not occur there. Moreover, a special focus on the buildings in G-3 and G-4 category is being made.

“The main challenges this monsoon will be the way the damaged buildings behave and the way the water flows in the Kharicut cannel, as the height of the cannel is raised by 8 meters,” said the municipal commissioner.

He added that a major exercise that was undertaken this year was to clear all the 36 canals, which strengthened the natural storm-water drainage system that the city was traditionally using. While this covers about 75 per cent of the city, about 25 per cent of the city need to be covered by alternative means to avoid flooding.

Moreover, new storm-water drains have been installed, based on the report prepared last year. About 209 new catchment pits have already been constructed in west zone, 115 in the north and east zone, 151 in the south zone and 50 in the central zone.

“But the main problem is topography of the city as there is no natural drainage and the water in certain areas like the northern part of the city has to travel about 20 kms before reaching the natural drainage.

“No permission is given for digging in the city and action was taken against those who tried to do it without the permission,” said Mr Kailashnathan. The arrangements to initiate the Chamanpura drainage pumping station and the GIDC effluent pumping station by June 15 have been done.

It will help clear waters in these areas with the help of 300 manholes located on the 26.4-km long GIDC pipeline. In addition to it, the Paldi drainage pumping station will also start by June 30. Special arrangements have also been done to prevent the water gathering at the Akhbarnagar underpass and Income-tax underpass.

According an estimate, about 140 pumps are needed in the various parts of the city to avoid flooding. While the central workshop and fire brigade have about 30 pumps, 12 submersible pumps and five fighter pumps, the other will be taken on rent from private parties and ONGC.

From the buildings having more than 50 percent damage, repair work is going on in 208 buildings, while 28 are being studied. In all, 924 buildings were given notice after they were declared unsafe after the quake from which 250 have been demolished.

These include 30 unsafe buildings in the route of Rathyatra. “It is expected that about 18 more buildings will be demolished in a week’s time,” said Mr Kailashnathan. The solid waste department with the help of corporation and private vehicles is carrying out the work of clearing the waste and debris of buildings in different zones and has cleared about 22,000 tones of debris in the last 10 days, said Mr Kailashnathan.

Moreover, according to a report received by the AMC from Mr V.K. Joshi, the expert from the Roourke University, it is advisable not to have water clogging in the areas affected by the earthquake. However, the buildings will not pose a problem in case the foundation is not shaken and the city experiences a normal monsoon.

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

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Liberal result gives admission blues Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Ahmedabad, June 11: More than 50,000 students who have successfully passed the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination conducted by the Gujarat Secondary Education Board in 2000-01 are facing a dilemma on day-one of admission to higher secondary schools.

A bumper 68.91 per cent SSCE result, paucity of seats, especially in schools offering science courses at HSCE level is a cause for constant worry for the candidates, their parents, and even schools that were flooded with admission queries on Monday.

The admission criteria across HSCE (science) schools to induct 60 per cent of its own candidates, is turning into a nightmare for students, who despite having done well in SSCE, are unable to get admission in their own schools due to the high results.

Also, flow of students from more than 350 schools not offering HSCE (science) to its SSCE passouts, to the 138 schools would fuel the crisis during the next two days of admission to science courses.

“What is the benefit of performing well in SSCE, when all you will have to do is run from pillar to post to seek admission in a HSCE school? What can be worse than ones own school denying admission just because one falls short of the cut off,” remarked Aakash Doshi, who visited five schools during the day to get admission forms for his cousin Rahul Shah.

Shah has scored 82.5 percent, is a student of CN Vidyalaya, but is unsure of admission to the school since he is not listed in the school’s merit list. While the District Education Office claims of a hassle free admission procedure, reality seemed otherwise.

“Only 20 per cent of the 51,821 SSCE passouts from Ahmedabad will opt for admission in HSCE (Science) during 2001-02,” observed DEO (Ahmedabad city) S.B. Mandlik, adding, “the confusion is short lived and will be sorted out by June 14.” He denied that the High Court notification to schools about HSCE (Science) admission is harsh on the system.

“Any school offering HSCE (Science) will admit 40 students of its own, 10 from other schools or centres and 16 seats will be for the reserved category. Commerce admissions are left to individual schools, one can accommodate as per its seating capacity, I feel the system is just fine,” he said.

Anxiety however prevailed amongst students. Pratik Patel of Sharda Mandir Vinay Mandir Scool, who secured 81 per cent marks, and Manthan Nirmal of the Nutan Aadarsh Vidyalaya, who got 78 per cent, are wandering across schools unsure of what to do next.

Arpit Patel of St. Kabir School who secured 86 per cent summed up the confusion, “The SSCE results are disproportionate to the number of HSCE seats. What would the meritorious students do once their schools deny them admissions?”

All the top schools of the city were flocked by students, both from their schools and elsewhere. St. Xavier’s HS, for instance, sold out as many as 2,000 forms during the day, while M.K. Secondary and Higher Secondary School, Law Garden gave out 800 scicenc and commerce forms.

“The rush is indeed mind blowing,” commented Father Fernand Durai, principal of St. Xavier’s HS. “The results are too high and the government has not ensured that all the passouts complete their admissions without trouble,” remarked a principal of one of the renowned schools on condition of anonymity.

He further said, “Since granting permission to self-financed colleges is not feasible everytime, I believe that schools running HSCE (science) and HSCE (commerce) courses should be permitted to open new divisions during the beginnning of an academic year.”

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

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Four held for robbing rickshaw passengers Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Ahmedabad, June 11: City Crime Branch detected and apprehended a gang of four involved in a series of autorickshaw passenger thefts in city. The accused were caught near the State Transport bus stand on Monday, after the crime branch conducted a thorough investigation into the series of thefts being committed on passengers who were boarding autorickshaws from ST bus and Kalupur railway station and stealing them while they were being driven to their destinations.

The four accused are Mohammed Shafir M Ansari, Mohammed Irfan A Alvi, Mohammed Aslam I Ansari and Wasim Akram M Darji. Head constable Nasirkhan H Pathan got a lead and based on it, police inspector A.A. Chauhan and his staff, laid a trap and caught the four culprits along with their autorickshaw. All the four accused are from Uttar Pradesh.

“They had a very clever modus operandi,” said deputy commissioner of police G.S. Mallik. He said, “They bought a rickshaw and used fake number plates and posed as rickshaw driver and the rest as passengers.”

He said that they would find a lone passenger or two and ask them to share the autorickshaw. Then they would get the passenger to sit on one side of the autorickshaw and one accomplice would sit bending forward blocking the victim’s view. The accomplice sitting on the farthest end would then open the suitcase of the victim and take out the money.

They stole a lot of money from passengers in various areas like Bapunagar, Maninagar, Kagdapith, Ellisbridge and Satellite areas. The biggest haul they had was of Rs 52,918 that they stole from a passenger who had boarded the rickshaw at Geeta Mandir ST stand.

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

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‘Direct to home channel’ attracts 70 ‘subscribers’ Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Ahmedabad, June 11: The direct contact programme announced by the minister of state for home, Mr Haren Pandya, received an overwhelming response from the public with about 70 complaints registered on Monday itself. Mr Pandya will be available every Monday between 2 to 5 pm to receive direct calls from the public.

The state government has commenced a novel experiment whereby the people can directly register their complaints with Mr Pandya and top police officials, including the DGP and police commissioners.

Mr Pandya received complaints of liquor den operations, gambling, matka, financial dealings, lotteries that are banned in the state and problems created by anti social elements in the state. Mr Pandya also received complaints of cow slaughter, an issue sacred to the BJP.

The complaints were accompanied by the woes of the people, who poured out the unruly behaviour faced from the police while registering the complaints and the inaction in cases of thefts.

The direct contact programme has been initiated with the intention of establishing a rapport with the public and to ensure that criminals are not allowed to play with the system besides maintaining transparency in the administration.

Besides Mr Pandya, the police commissioners in all the four commissionerates at Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot will also be available to receive complaints of the public directly.
Mr Pandya said the administration has been given instructions to promptly take care of the cases and said the system will also be extended at district levels.

He also said a sophisticated U.H.F. Digital Radio Trunking System would be set up at the estimated cost of Rs 100 crore for effective and better communication. The network will encompass the prohibition, police, forest and jail departments and will cover Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Kutch in the next five years.

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

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