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June 6, 2001 - June 7, 2001

‘Rural exchange officials involved too’ Thursday, June 7, 2001

By Hitarth Pandya, AsianAge

Vadodara, June 6: While the Vadodara police is desperately looking for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited employee R.T. Sharma who is the main accused in the ISD scam, according to sources in BSNL, the rural exchanges in Valsad, Navsari, Bharuch, Rajkot and Vadodara districts were also used to make ISD calls.

A week before the ISD racket was busted, the vigilance department had caught BSNL officials red-handed at the Bodeli, Vadu, Karakhadi and Dhaniavi exchanges for their involvement in “managing” ISD calls for their “rural customers”. However, sources said that no action was taken against the officials.

A senior-level official at BSNL told The Asian Age on condition of anonymity that while some of the officials have been caught, there are a number of employees at rural exchanges who have been catering the same services to their rural clientele.

The official also confirmed that along with the telecom employees, even the officials of the companies providing software to BSNL are involved in the scam. While disclosing the functioning of the scam, the official said that those who are involved in the scam are aware of the schedule of the vigilance officials and the customers are given dates accordingly.

The official said, “Generally the vigilance in the rural belt is not effective and there is a gap of 15 days between two visits.” He further said, “The scam would not have flourished without the support of the companies providing the software essential for the C-DOT exchanges in rural belt and the lenient approach by the vigilance officials.”

As per the schedule, ISD calls were made by adopting the same method followed by R.T. Sharma and his accomplices in Makarpura exchange. According to the official, as the ISD calls get registered in the main memory of the exchange, those who are involved shut down the entire exchange.

The official added, “As per the schedule the entire exchange used to be shutdown and the exchange automatically shifted from main memory to auxiliary memory.” The modification in the data is possible only in auxiliary memory system.

After making calls it was modified, and with the help of the software cartridges the exchange was restarted minus the ISD calls made by those who are involved. Sources in the department even said that those who are a part of the scam used to catch flights to Rajkot and Rajasthan to maintain the schedule.

Sources said, “The software used in the scam is important and it was not available freely, so those who had the software used to travel between Valsad, Rajkot, Bharuch and Vadodara. At times to maintain the ‘business schedule,’ they even caught flights from Vadodara to Rajkot and Rajasthan.”

Admitting the existence of such scam, BSNL’s Vadodara circle general manager Rakesh Babu told The Asian Age that though the department is aware of such activity it is helpless because of lack of evidence.

He said, “We cannot take action on vague information. However, we are trying our best to identify officials who are indulged in illegal activity.” He further said, “As far as the case of Bodeli exchange is concerned, we have already suspended the technician at the exchange, N.K. Parmar, for his involvement.”

Sources however confirmed that chargesheets have been issued to Mr Parmar, the divisional engineer, and minor punishment is given to the Padra junior telecom officer R.S. Chauhan.

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

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Vajpayee's visit to boost Gujarat economy, CM's future Thursday, June 7, 2001

By Ashraf Sayed, IANS

Gandhinagar, June 06: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to the quake-ravaged Kutch district has proved to be an economic bonanza for Gujarat and a political one for its Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel.

"Gujarat is now expecting a huge investment, ranging from Rs.150 billion to Rs.200 billion in the desert district of Kutch in the next two to three years," says P.K. Lehri, principal secretary to the chief minister.

After returning to the state capital from Bhuj, Lehri told IANS Tuesday the tax holiday on excise duty announced by Vajpayee during his two-day tour and Patel's matching gesture to waive sales tax on goods manufactured in Kutch would change the face of the devastated district.

"Gujarat will be the first state to enjoy a tax holiday on excise duty for five years apart from the northeastern states. This is bound to change the face of the drought-prone district of Kutch," he said.

Lehri said as a result of the tax holiday, the Central and Gujarat governments would have to bear a burden of around Rs.18 billion to Rs.20 billion per year for the next five years.

He hoped that several industrial and manufacturing units would set up shop in Kutch during the first two to three years to avail of tax holiday facilities for the remaining period.

"The tax holidays will now open new frontiers for development in trade, business and industrial sectors. We have started getting inquiries from industrial houses on the availability of land, water, power and other infrastructure facilities."

Politically, Vajpayee has given renewed life to Patel, who was in the "firing line" of his detractors for alleged omissions and commissions in the implementation of rehabilitation and resettlement packages for quake-hit people.

Virtually giving a clean chit to Patel, Vajpayee observed in his speeches that the state government could not be blamed for delays in the implementation of relief packages, as the entire task was "gigantic and unprecedented."

At the same time, Vajpayee observed that he had pointed out Patel certain lapses and asked him to take immediate corrective measures.

Many had expected that Patel may lose his job after Vajpayee's tour.

Sources close to the chief minister claimed Patel was now "safe in the saddle" for the remaining two years of his term. They said Patel could now "legitimately claim credit for getting the tax holiday for Kutch."

News Source : Indiaabroad News Service [ Website for the NRI ]

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Incident of stone-pelting at Mirzapur, girl injured Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Ahmedabad, June 5: An Id-e-milad procession turned violent at Mirzapur road when some miscreant allegedly interrupted it by pelting stones. One girl sustained injuries when hit by a stone as the procession passed by Rustam Ali no Dhar at Mirzapur around 9 pm.

Police had to use tear gas to disperse a mob of 300 people who had gheraoed the area soon after the incident. The area has also been cordoned off in wake of further tensions, reportedly sparked due to communal reasons.

The girl has been identified as Bharti Parmar, a resident of Mirzapur. She was immediately rushed to the hospital. According to initial reports, the procession had reached near the Janasatta office, and a stone meant to interrupt the religious procession hit a Hindu girl instead.

People present at the area soon divided into communal groups to take charge of the event. Police promptly rushed to the spot and prevented a brawl. Police commissioner P.C. Pande however declined any communal cause for the tension that broke out at Mirzapur.

“The event has nothing to do with the Id-e-milad celebrations. A brawl between two drunkards resulted in tension,” said Mr Pande. He said that the drunkards were passing by the area and after an argument indulged in stone throwing and possibly hit a girl.

“The police had to use tear gas to disperse the mob which had gathered soon after the incident,” he said. Deputy commissioner of police Manoj Agarwal and Rajkumar Pandey, DySP M.T. Mehta, and other senior police officials had rushed to take charge of the situation. Police has cordoned the area to prevent further communal tension.

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

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River cleaning project in Vadodara likely Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Vadodara, June 5: A ray of hope has emerged to clean river Vishwamitri and this hope was expressed after several environment experts expressed concern on the deteriorating condition of environment.

Speaking at a function organised by the All India Institute of Self-Government, member secretary of Gujarat ecology commission, Vilasini Ramachandran, expressed her intentions to prepare a river cleaning project which also includes enhancement of the riverbank.

Ms Ramachandran, who is also the Vadodara municipal commissioner, told The Asian Age that the idea is also to link the river with the wetlands. Sources said that issues regarding the project will be soon put up before the ministry of environment.

She also said that from June 15 the VMC has planned to recover administrative charges from those who use plastic bags below 20 microns. At the function, president of society for clean environment, V.V. Modi stressed the need for sustainable development.

Chairman of GEC, Hasmukh Shah released “State of Environment 2001”, a book published by the commission. The social forestry division, Vadodara and Hotel Revival, jointly organised a seminar on “Environment Protection”, the challenge. Socleen organised a round table conference on “Disaster Management”.

At a programme organised by the ONGC, general secretary of international society of naturalists, G.M. Oza spoke on “Present scenario on global environment”. He listed 14 threats in the world. Some of these are nuclear warfare accidents, deforestation, depletion of important raw materials, major health epidemics and garbage cum other waste disposal.

He said, “We owe an obligation not to harm the prosperity of the future generations and we must have the will to root out the environmental miseries created by man.” Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran suraksha sangathan pointed out the ill-effects of pollution in the golden corridor.

Quoting a study by Avinash Sharma, Mr. Prajapati pointed out that fish in Mahi estuary had high percentage of metals in liver and brain as compared to normal areas. Dr. Sharma had done a study to obtain a doctorate.

According to Mr. Prajapati, the effects of pollution are so harmful that heavy metals and other chemicals are entering the human body through food grains and vegetables. Darayas Medhora of the Gujarat paryavaran raksha samiti too has expressed concern over the manner in which effluents are released from the effluent channel project in sarod.

Mr. Medhora said that chemicals of a cyanide manufacturing company are also released near the “J” point where the effluent from the project is released.

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

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Man stabbed over squabble Wednesday, June 6, 2001

A 37-year-old man was killed over a squabble on Monday. The victim, Balwant Parmar, a resident of Pirana road, was stabbed by a fellow worker Jaggu Maratha over professional differences.

Balwant was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. His wife Shanta Parmar has lodged a complaint at the Danilimda police station. The police has registered a complaint against the accused and police inspector V.K. Amaliyar is investigating the case.

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

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