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June 1, 2001 - June 1, 2001

Project to rejuvenate 600 lakes in North Gujarat Friday, June 1, 2001

Gandhinagar, May 31
After years of abuse of groundwater, the state government has finally decided to take action against the depleted ground water levels in north Gujarat.

Medium and small irrigation projects minister Nitin Patel told reporters here on Thursday that the state government has planned to deepen 600 lakes in north Gujarat for conservation of rainwater, a decision that will increase water conservation by 900 million cubic feet in the region.

“We have planned to deepen lakes in 600 villages in north Gujarat under the Saradar Patel Participatory Water Conservation Scheme in 2001-2002 as part of the plan. Of the 600 about 100 lakes will be deepened by June 15,” Mr Patel said. Mr Patel said the state government will incur an expenditure of Rs 35 crores in 2001-2002 for the deepening of lakes and 54 such works are already going on at present.

The medium irrigation minister informed that presently the work of deepening the lakes is going from strength to strength in villages in Mehsana district. At the same time, the activation of 25,000 tubewells will also increase irrigation in the region.

Mr Patel said it is more prudent to deepen the lakes in north Gujarat instead of constructing check dams due to a difference in the topography between Saurashtra and north Gujarat.

Mr Patel said 225 lakes were deepened in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 at a cost of Rs 13 crores raising the storage capacity by 244 million cubic feet. “The state government has given 90 per cent financial assistance in cases of deepening of lakes and which will also include MLA and MP grants,” Mr Patel said.

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

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Rickshaw drivers turn violent Friday, June 1, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 31
The traffic police and AMTS’ drive to remove autorickshaws from bus stand area, turned violent on Wednesday, when autorickshaw drivers threw stones and broke window panes of many buses and injured a bus driver. The rickshaw drivers badly damaged bus number 246 piling on route number 200 of Naroda area.

Talking to The Asian Age the DCP Traffic Samiullah Ansari said that till date they have booked more than 1000 auto shuttles. Explaining the term shuttle, he said the big autos which carry more than six and smaller autos which carry more than three are termed shuttles.

These are not supposed to operate on meters. Justifying his stand on the drive Mr Ansari said that more than 15 city autorickshaw unions had requested in writing that they should check the practice of shuttle rickshaws in the city. Mr Ansari said, “It’s not the blockage of bus stand area by auto drivers only but also that they are creating pollution by overloading their engines, which is originally meant for three.”

According to sources the AMTS has already earned Rs 4 lakhs in the two days of the drive.
Explaining the gravity of the problem Mr Ansari told that India is already on the world map for most polluted cities, so its not only the traffic police’s job but public support is needed as well.

“Unless there is public support, such moves and drives can never succeed in achieving the goals,” he said. He said shuttle practice is very common in busy city areas, near the outskirts of the city and highway.

The drive was jointly carried out by city traffic police and AMTS against those autodrivers who block the bus stand. When caught by the team they will be fined Rs 2000 for small autos, Rs 3000 for the bigger one and some cases were referred to the RTO. This drive is likely to continue for another 15-20 days. These shuttles charge the same as bus fare to the passengers.

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

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Body seeks ban on tobacco products Friday, June 1, 2001

Vadodara, May 31
The S.C. Patel Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on Thursday submitted a memorandum to the district collector, commissioner of police and municipal commissioner demanding that the authorities must take stringent action to maintain a healthy atmosphere in the society.

Dr Yogesh Patel of S C Patel trust said that the trust has decided to launch a special tobacco control program ‘big kill’ to generate public opinion and develop awareness of the dangers of passive smoking.

According to Dr Patel the trust would recognise and maintain the right of people to choose a smoke free life, develop awareness to establish smoke free environment. It would also ensure the wide availability of help for tobacco users who want to get rid of the addiction.

Dr Patel said that as many as 4000 dangerous chemicals and 60 of them known or suspected carcinogens are released in the environment when a cigarette is lit and it affects both the smoker and others. Dr Patel also said that passive smoking has contributed to growing health hazards, peripheral vascular diseases and chronic heart diseases.

In his memorandum, Dr Patel said that all the enclosed public places and public transport should be made smoke-free and smoking policies should be developed and implemented in health premises, work places and educational institutions. Dr Patel said, “the government should also ban the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco and also the cultivation of tobacco should be banned. The farmers can be helped by substitute crops.”

Dr Patel also said that the tobacco manufacturing companies do not seek permission from an appropriate health authority before launching a new product in the market. Dr Patel said, “the step of banning the opium cannabis has reduced the danger to health by maximum and the same step regarding tobacco would prove to be fruitful.”

In the meantime, the Students Help-awareness and rights protection program, a human rights organisation, has also submitted a memorandum to district collector and other government representatives.

In its memorandum organisation secretary, Harish Kaul, said that children should make their home smoke free, all non-smokers motivate or sponsor five tobacco users to give up smoking or chewing tobacco. The organisation has also set up a ‘big kill help line’ for the addicts.

The organisation has also asked the students to inform about tobacco vendors in the vicinity of educational institutions, hospitals, railway stations and bus depots. One can call on 782338 or 788717 for further details.

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

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GPCC feud: Chaudhary may emerge as first among equals Friday, June 1, 2001

By Deepal Trevedie

Ahmedabad, May 31: In a swift twist of events, various factions of the Gujarat Congress, barring one, got “united” and informed the party high command in New Delhi on Thursday that they have no qualms in accepting Amarsinh Chaudhary as the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president.

Top sources in New Delhi informed The Asian Age that they were also surprised at this sudden consensus that has emerged in favour of Mr Chaudhary. Surprisingly, even Naresh Rawal, the Congress chief whip in the Assembly, who is also in fray for the state party president’s post, has claimed that he has no objections if the party high command decides to make Mr Chaudhary the GPCC president.

The GPCC president post has been lying vacant since February after the death of C.D. Patel. Hectic lobbying has been going on since quite some time and it intensified on the eve of AICC Gujarat incharge Kamal Nath’s visit to study the situation.

Mr Kamal Nath has promised that the decision on the new president would be announced latest by June 5 by the party high command. The main candidates in fray are Mr Madhavsinh Solanki, Mr Navinchandra Ravani, Mr Amarsinh Chaudhary, Ms Urmila Patel, Mr Naresh Rawal, Mr Hasmukh Patel, Mr Narhari Amin, Mr Manoharsinh Jadeja and Mr Shankarsinh Vaghela.

According to sources, Mr Amarsinh Chaudhary, who is at present the Congress Legislative Party leader, has “managed” to convince most of the faction leaders to support his claim for the post of the state party president. All except Mr Madhavsinh Solanki’s group have fallen in line with Mr Chaudhary.

However, Mr Chaudhary, a lacklustre leader, has several questions on his credibility and performance as the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly. His own party members have allege more than once that Mr Chaudhary was hand-in-gloves with the corrupt practises of the ruling BJP government.

Mr Chaudhary, if made the party president, is likely to do more harm than any concrete benefits to the already crippled Congress in the state. Mr Naresh Rawal, who till now had been strongly contending for the post on the grounds that there has been absolutely no representation from the North Gujarat region and that his age should also be considered a factor (he is below 40), is reportedly believed to have struck a compromise with Mr Chaudhary that in case the PCC president’s post goes to him (Mr Chaudhary) then he be made the CLP leader.

Similarly, Ms Urmila Patel has also been reportedly promised a Rajya Sabha seat from the state for favouring Mr Chaudhary’s candidature.

However, a number of committed Congress workers strongly feel that even if the high command goes by the majority, it would be a folly to appoint Mr Chaudhary as the party president.
“This would be a mistake. Maybe Mr Chaudhary is eyeing the chief minister’s post hoping that the next elections would usurp the BJP but under Mr Chaudhary’s leadership, the already factionalised Congress would divide further and get lost in wilderness,” a senior leader remarked.

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

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BJP does ‘out sourcing’ to keep ‘political costs’ low Friday, June 1, 2001

By Parag Dave

Ahmedabad, May 31: Every party that assumes power in a state employs new means to “consolidate” its position and go about the business of keeping its “image” intact.

The motive brings with it a peculiar type of functioning. The latest fad that has caught on with the state unit of the BJP, after debacle in the local civic bodies, is appointing “jilla prabhari (district in charge)” to coordinate party activities in a particular district and keep the higher ups informed about the ground situation there.

As such the system is not new to the state polity. The two main parties — the BJP and the Congress — have the system of central observer, who coordinates between the state unit and the central unit of the party.

But BJP state president Rajendrasinh Rana has gone a step further and appointed “outsider” district prabharis. In plain terms the in charge is from outside the district. Mr Rana claimed that this arrangement would ensure that the prabhari remains uninfluenced by the internal politics within the district unit and concentrate on betterment of party prospects in the area.

Commenting on the appointments, spokesman Gordhan Jhadafiya said the district in-charge would be a “point man” of state party unit for overall observation of the district unit of the party. “His role would be that of a coordinator of the state party policies with the district unit, he said.

He added that if the state leadership wish to know about the functioning of the district units than they would just have to call these district in-charges to know the ground situation.
However, a senior BJP leader from Rajkot said that now the state leadership will have to deal with two authorities — one district unit president and other district in-charge.

It would naturally be difficult, he added. The new system could also pose problems at the time of making new appointments at district level and distributing tickets at the time of Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

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

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