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May 30, 2001 - May 31, 2001

NGOs backtrack on quake-hit rehabilitation Thursday, May 31, 2001

By Anil Pathak
GANDHINAGAR: Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have backed out of their commitment in almost 100 out of 347 villages where they were committed to a partnership with the government for the rehabilitation of earthquake-affected villages in Kutch and other districts.

The withdrawal has dealt a serious blow to the efforts for reconstruction of houses in villages by the government with NGO partnership.

Though the state government has agreed to disburse 50 per cent on the development expenses, inquiries have revealed that NGOs which had earlier applied "have not come forward to take up their assignments," leaving the government in the lurch.

The state government has decided to make a presentation before Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee based on computerised data prepared by the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority with assistance from L Mansingh, the chief co-ordinator of rehabilitation projects in Kutch.

The presentation named "Rehabilitation Vision" will be shown to the prime minister during his meeting with senior officials in presence of Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel at Ummed Bhavan on June 3. During his one-and-a-half day visit to Kutch, Vajpayee will stay at the GMDC guest house.

Sources, however, said, that leading NGOs which will continue to shoulder responsibilities in Kutch and Saurashtra are Kutch Abhiyan - which has agreed to adopt 70 villages in the worst-hit Kutch district -and Self Employed Women's Association with 30 villages. FICCI and CARE will undertake rehabilitation responsibilities in 30 villages.

Seva Bharati, another leading NGO, will adopt 21 villages, while Catholics and CARITAS-India will execute their plan to adopt 12 and 10 villages respectively.

BAPS and other NGOs run by the Swaminarayan sect, Gayatri Parivar, Vaishnavites and other community trusts, including the one run by former Delhi chief minister Sahib Singh Verma, and NGOs from other states like Maharashtra have conveyed their decision to adopt villages for overall development in collaboration with the state government.

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


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NGOs backtrack on quake-hit rehabilitation Thursday, May 31, 2001

By Anil Pathak
GANDHINAGAR: Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have backed out of their commitment in almost 100 out of 347 villages where they were committed to a partnership with the government for the rehabilitation of earthquake-affected villages in Kutch and other districts.

The withdrawal has dealt a serious blow to the efforts for reconstruction of houses in villages by the government with NGO partnership.

Though the state government has agreed to disburse 50 per cent on the development expenses, inquiries have revealed that NGOs which had earlier applied "have not come forward to take up their assignments," leaving the government in the lurch.

The state government has decided to make a presentation before Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee based on computerised data prepared by the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority with assistance from L Mansingh, the chief co-ordinator of rehabilitation projects in Kutch.

The presentation named "Rehabilitation Vision" will be shown to the prime minister during his meeting with senior officials in presence of Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel at Ummed Bhavan on June 3. During his one-and-a-half day visit to Kutch, Vajpayee will stay at the GMDC guest house.

Sources, however, said, that leading NGOs which will continue to shoulder responsibilities in Kutch and Saurashtra are Kutch Abhiyan - which has agreed to adopt 70 villages in the worst-hit Kutch district -and Self Employed Women's Association with 30 villages. FICCI and CARE will undertake rehabilitation responsibilities in 30 villages.

Seva Bharati, another leading NGO, will adopt 21 villages, while Catholics and CARITAS-India will execute their plan to adopt 12 and 10 villages respectively.

BAPS and other NGOs run by the Swaminarayan sect, Gayatri Parivar, Vaishnavites and other community trusts, including the one run by former Delhi chief minister Sahib Singh Verma, and NGOs from other states like Maharashtra have conveyed their decision to adopt villages for overall development in collaboration with the state government.

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


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State overrules plan to condone property tax levy Thursday, May 31, 2001

Gandhinagar, May 29
The state government has decided to thwart the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation move to do away with the interest of 18 per cent on unpaid property tax over the past 10 years. Minister of state for urban development Parmanand Khattar told reporters here on Tuesday that no such proposal has reached his department as yet.

“The proposal itself is absurd as persons, who have already paid the unpaid tax with interest will now demand a refund of the interest of 18 per cent. It is almost impossible to grant an approval to such a move,” Mr Khattar, said adding that municipal corporations do not have powers to do away with penalty.

Sources informed that municipal commissioner had decided that the AMC will pass a proposal of giving a discount equal to the amount of the rebate granted, which is much within its purview, if the approval for doing away with the penalty is not approved by the state government.

Mr Khattar said at a time when the state government is all set to usher in a uniform tax structure in all the six municipal corporations a deviation by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation cannot be accepted. Mr Khattar said similar concessions will be demanded by all other municipal corporations if the proposal of the AMC is approved.

Mr Khattar said the state government has already decided on a uniform tax structure and a committee will be constituted within one week to work out the tax structure.

“A committee comprising mayors and municipal commissioners of all the six municipal corporations will be formed to take a decision and a report tabled with the state government who will then take a decision based on the recommendations of the report,” Mr Khattar said.

It may be recalled that the Congress-led AMC had anticipated such a move and has started giving rebate to the people who paid the disputed tax amount. The mayor, Himmatsingh Patel, has said on several occasions that the state government is not being cooperative and will plan to thwart the move of doing away with the interest.

He said that the move will help solve major tax disputes and help cash flow in AMC. “It is impractical to expect that tax disputes which are pending for last 15 years will be solved.”

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


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Ban fails to check bane of tobacco Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 29: More than a year to the ban on sale of gutkha, cigarette and other tobacco-products within a radius of 100 m of any educational institution by the Gujarat government on May 1, 1997, presence of gutkha vendors in close proximity of several educational institutes in the city, speaks volumes on how successful has the ban been.

The AMC health department implemented the ban, with the consent of both state and union government. Despite the fact, gutkha business is blooming near the academic surroundings.
According to the AMC medical officer, Dr P.K.Makwana, the law has been enforced ever since it was promulgated in May 1997.

“The AMC conducted raids and seized 34,988 gutkhas from the vendors within the 100 meter radius of the colleges and schools, till December 2000, but this year there had been no raids as the colleges closed down due to earthquake,” added Mr Makwana.

A case was also registered by the AMC in April 1998 in the Municipal Metropolitan Court against the Manikchand and Tulsi, the most known manufacturers of gutkhas, but the case is still lying unsolved.

Despite several AMC raids in the city last year, lots of vendors have managed a comeback across the city, thanks to the influence of the local leaders. One of the vendors, Kantilal, who parks his temporary lari in front of the Navgujarat college campus, said, “Students from both the the law college and the Gujarat Vidyapith come here to satisfy their gutkha appetite along with the class four staff and some professors.

There was a raid last year and I was forced to shift from here, though temporarily, because some of my customers come from strong political background, helped me come out.”

There are several other vendors who came back with their stalls and are flourishing at different spots near colleges like, C.U.Shah science college, H.K.Science college, both at Ashram road, Ahmedabad science and commerce college, at Vasna, GLS college campus, opposite law garden, and Indian Institute of Management.

The irresponsibilities of the AMC health department, the police and the students, who form a majority chunk of the customers jointly, became a blessing for the vendors.

Unaware of the anti tobacco day celebration, Mr Makwana said, “We are going to conduct raids as soon as possible. I thank The Asian Age to make me aware of the world anti tobacco day, so may be on that day we are possibly going to arrange a raid.”

The gutkhawalas adjoining M.K. Higher Secondary School, opposite Law Garden have also managed to get the young school going siblings addicted to this vice as well.

The principal, Dheeraj Jogani says, “The gallawala behind the school has his business booming. I have tried to make him understand the seriousness of the situation but it was in vain.” He also strongly blamed the police for not taking any action on the matter.

Where as Ms Sunanda Shah, principal of N.R. Higher Secondary school said, “I don’t allow the tobacco vendors even to wander around the campus and whenever they tend to settle down, I call the police and they respond efficiently.

I don’t even allow the hawkers to sell junk food in front of the school gate.” Somehow the students manage to keep up with their addiction outside the campus from the gallawala sitting across the road. “Since he is easily accessible to the students they can be seen there even before the school starts,” said Ms Shah.

On being asked about his daily sales the gallawala said that he earns in the range of Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 every day, most of which comes from the school going students.

The Municipal School Committee Chairman, Mr Ganpat Kumar said, “I am forming teams consisting educated officials who would make sure that such bans are strictly enforced. This will be done once the schools re-open within 15 days.”

He added, “The limit of 100 meters is not enough, the ban should be implemented all over the city.” The schools in Vadodara have successfully implemented the law. However, the lariwalas have started their business exactly where the prescribed radius ends.

Atul Nagolkar who has a paan laari near Baroda High School, Alkapuri, said, “I have followed the norms and I cannot be blamed. There are many regular student customers for cigarettes and gutkha. After all it is their choice.”

Vadodara teachers association president, Nikhil Desai while commenting on the issue, said, “We are trying to create awareness about the health hazards caused by tobacco on war footing and we are doing before the student gets lured to such addictions.”

On the other hand, the situation is alarming at the government schools where there is no strict vigil on the issue. A teacher at Vadodara Municipal Corporation’s Harni School said that the school is located right on the main road where tobacco in every form is available easily.

He said, “we have prohibited students from consuming tobacco and when we found some students violating it we informed about it to their parents but unfortunately even their parents are addicted to it for years. So we have given up the efforts now.”

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


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Subbarao to replace Mukundan as chief secretary Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Gandhinagar, May 29
Additional chief secretary of finance department G. Subbarao will take charge as the chief secretary of state as anticipated on May 31 since outgoing chief secretary L.N.S. Mukundan retires on that day.

Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday Mr Subbarao said his priority will be the rehabilitation of villages affected by the quake on Republic Day. Mr Subbarao is a 1965 batch IAS officer, born in Andhra Pradesh and a post graduate from the Andhra University.

He later went to get a post graduate degree in rural development from a UK Unviersity and a IIPA post graduate degree in New Delhi. Mr Subbarao passed out the UPSC in 1965 and was appointed IAS in the Gujarat cadre. He was later appointed as collector Rajkot and also served in the Union home department.

He later gave his services as financial director in SSNNL, as principal secretary in urban development, energy and petrochemical department and in the industries and finance department.

Mr Subbarao was a chief election officer of the state election commissioner in 1994-95 and was administrative controller in the Gujarat Naramda Valley Fertilizers Limited in 1995-97.

Meanwhile the state government transferred state principal resident commissioner, New Delhi Sunil Sud to the forest and environment department as principal secretary replacing Dr K.S. Sugathan who has been appointed as principal resident commissioner for Gujarat state, New Delhi.

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


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