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May 23, 2001 - May 24, 2001

Oil tanker's disappearance still a mystery Thursday, May 24, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Even as the whereabouts of 1000 tonne oil tanker 'M T Meera', which left Kandla Port in Gujarat on May 10 for Dubai via Mumbai, remains a mystery, the port trust authorities have ruled out the possibility of kidnapping or high sea piracy.

Due to a dispute relating to finance between a Mumbai-based shipping agent and a firm that chartered the tanker, a police complaint was filed in Mumbai by captain Satnam Singh Sai of Sitara Shipping.

It alleged that M T Meera with 14 crew members aboard, was commandeered out of Kandla port by some men hired by Nilesh Bansal and T R Patel, who had chartered the vessel at some point of time in the past, to settle a score with the shipping agent Sitara Shipping, according to Kandla Port Trust (KPT) sources here on Tuesday.

KPT chairman A K Jyoti told PTI over phone that "it is not a case of kidnapping or high sea piracy as being made out. The oil tanker left Kandla Port on May 10 for Mumbai on way to Dubai. There is a dispute between the shipping agent of M T Meera and those who had chartered it on some financial point".

Jyoti was also unable to say where the vessel was at the moment. (PTI)

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


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Govt to seek AG's opinion on oil projects Thursday, May 24, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: In a new twist to the raging controversy over throwing open the Gulf of Kutch to more operators for their proposed refineries, the Central government and the Gujarat government have agreed to take the attorney-general's (A-G) opinion on whether it was possible to grant environmental clearance to the proposed projects along the sensitive Marine National Park area.

Thus far, only Reliance Petroleum Ltd (RPL) and the Indian Oil have jetties in the area which allow them to receive oil for their respective refineries.

"If the A-G's opinion is favourable, it would allow the state to re-examine the issue of permitting Bharat-Oman Refinery Ltd (BORL) and Essar to install oil terminals near Vadinar, as also reconsidering the issue of allowing a private port at Positra," said a senior government official who had participated in a high-level meeting in New Delhi last weekend.

The meeting was convened to find ways of getting around the recent Supreme Court order which sought to ban fresh developmental activity along the Gulf of Kutch. The apex court had ruled that such activities would "disturb" the Marine National Park's delicate eco-balance.

Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel's principal secretary PK Laheri; environment secretary, Government of India, PV Jaykrishnan; joint secretary, petroleum ministry, Shivraj Singh; BORL managing director JS Hajuria; officials from the Prime Minister's Office and state environment secretary KS Sugathan were few of the participants at the meeting.

One of the important issues discussed at meeting was the BORL project controversy. The BORL project had sought to carry imported oil from Oman by a pipeline from Vadinar coast to a proposed refinery in Bina, Madhya Pradesh.

But as the SC judgment affected all developmental activity, it was decided that the Centre seek A-G's opinion and convey it to the state to finally decide on whether future development along the Jamnagar sea coast was possible, said the official.

As for the BORL project itself, its managing-director Hajuria was told to re-petition the SC, pointing out how a Gujarat High Court judgment, in this case at least, had "approved" an alternative route, called 2-A, for laying down the underwater pipeline near to a captive oil terminal in Vadinar causing little environmental damage.

Discussion at the top-level meeting centred on whether the route approval to the BORL by the state environment department on February 4, 2000 -- to lay a "crude oil import pipeline from the single point mooring (SPM) located off the coast of Narara-Vadinar to the capital oil terminal at Vadinar, along the modified route 2A in the Siri-Ballarpur jetty creek, through the Marine National Park" -- was valid after the SC judgment. A state official informed the meet, at least 5,000 mangroves would have to felled for two kilometres on a 4-hectare area.

Despite several top-level meetings, including the one at the PMO with the CM's participation way back on November 11, 1998, where the state was told that the project was a bilateral issue between India and Oman, it has failed to take off for some reason or the other.

Though lately it is the SC's stricture, which came late last year, has stopped the project from taking off, Gujarat considers BORL as a "good bargain" against Madhya Pradesh, which has been creating hurdles in the state's most prestigious Narmada project.

All top state politicians, cutting across party line, have all along maintained that the state should not allow the BORL pipeline to pass through its land to MP, which has been a major stumbling block to the Narmada dam. A change in MP attitude towards Narmada should be reciprocated by the state with a similar gesture.

Before the top-level meet in New Delhi last weekend, the Union minister of state for petroleum personally came to meet the CM to work out ways for solving the BORL tangle, particularly in view of the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

The CM had agreed for a meeting in New Delhi on May 18, but promised nothing else. Officials attending the meeting said as the deadlock had shifted to legality involving the apex court, there was really nothing the state could do in the matter. It could only "re-examine" the matter in case the A-G gave a positive opinion.

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


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Former BJP corporator shot at in Surat Wednesday, May 23, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A former BJP corporator Harvandan Vana Vala was shot at and seriously injured by some unidentified persons in Surat this evening, home secretary K Nityanandam said here.

"He is seriously injured and presently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Surat," Nityanandam told PTI.

Vala was shot at when he was coming out of his office at Salabatpura in Surat from behind by some unidentified persons who alighted from an autorickshaw, he said.

"Only one bullet hit the former corporator in his back though a couple of shots were fired at him", Nityanandam said quoting preliminary reports.

The exact motive behind the attack was yet to be ascertained, Nityanandam added. (PTI)

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


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Former BJP corporator shot at in Surat Wednesday, May 23, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A former BJP corporator Harvandan Vana Vala was shot at and seriously injured by some unidentified persons in Surat this evening, home secretary K Nityanandam said here.

"He is seriously injured and presently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Surat," Nityanandam told PTI.

Vala was shot at when he was coming out of his office at Salabatpura in Surat from behind by some unidentified persons who alighted from an autorickshaw, he said.

"Only one bullet hit the former corporator in his back though a couple of shots were fired at him", Nityanandam said quoting preliminary reports.

The exact motive behind the attack was yet to be ascertained, Nityanandam added. (PTI)

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


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Suspended SBI accused to take lie detector test Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 22: City police will soon make Mohit Shrivastav, the supsended gold desk officer of the Overseas Branch of State Bank of India, undergo a lie detector test.

Mohit has so far repeatedly denied having any knowledge or involvement in the case of the missing 1,000 gold bars and 39 tonnes of silver from the vaults of BVC Travel Agency and the lie detector test will confirm his statement.

Police inspector O S Majumdar, who is the investigating officer, said Shrivastav will be taken to the Forensic Science Laboratory for the test in a couple of days. He was produced before the court and remanded to judicial custody on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday Shrivastav will move the bail application.

It might be recalled that the branch manager of the agency Devang Shah committed suicide on May 17. In his dying declaration in front of an executive magistrate, he had said that Mohit Shrivastav and the director of K.L. Choksi Company were involved in the scam. He had also said that he was forced to commit suicide because of the duo.

On the basis of the DD, Navrangpura police officials had arrested Mr Shrivastav. The directors of K. L. Choksi company, including Naresh Choksi, have already been arrested for an earlier offense in the gold bullion scam.

There has been a drastic increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis reported in the city. So far 46 cases of water-borne diseases have been reported. There have been 37 cases of gastroenteritis, seven cases of jaundice, two cases of typhoid and one case of cholera.

Over 476 kg of foodstuff and 173 litres of cold drinks were destroyed on Monday. After the health committee meeting on Tuesday, a team of officials had taken rounds and served notice to the larri-gallas serving food at the khani-pini bazaar of Manekchowk.

According to the notice issued, owner of every larri will have to maintain cleanliness and provide quality food. They have there days’ time to them to clean the surroundings and severe action will be taken against those who fail to do so, a health official said.

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


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