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May 21, 2001 - May 22, 2001

Gujarat may have parallel cooperative law Tuesday, May 22, 2001

By Pradeep Mallik
Gandhinagar, May 20: Gujarat might soon have a parallel law for self-reliant cooperatives in the state.

Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who has approved the draft of the new law, said he is willing to go beyond the proposed statute for liberalizing cooperatives.

Former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Mohan Dharia submitted the draft for the Gujarat Self-Reliant Cooperative Societies Act to Patel last week.

Dharia, who is part of the three-member Cooperative Initiative Panel (CIP), was in Gujarat's Ahmedabad city to participate in a seminar on the need for a parallel cooperative law. The draft was prepared for discussion at the seminar and Dharia was authorized to meet Patel to persuade the chief minister to accept it.

Doyen of the cooperative movement in India and former chairman of the National Dairy Development Board, Verghese Kurien, and former Planning Commission member L.C. Jain are the two other members of the CIP.

Welcoming "the positive response of the chief minister," Dharia said the proposed law would put the state cooperative movement back on rail. He said the bill was not merely for liberalizing cooperative law, but for ensuring more accountability and stronger penalty for defaulters. The proposed law will make the officials and management totally accountable to members.

Leaders of cooperatives across the country have been advocating the release of cooperative societies from government control to allow them a level playing field vis--vis the private sector and multinational companies.

They have been lobbying for the parallel law, which would allow cooperative societies to gain freedom from government control without having to return to government equity.

The equity under the parallel law comes only from the members. The law, however, gives societies the option to continue functioning with government equity under the old state acts.

The acts were passed mostly in the 1960s and are outdated, Dharia said. Gujarat passed its act in 1961. Today seven states - Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Karnataka, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand - have parallel laws.

At the federal level, the CIP has been advocating replacing the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act (MSCS) of 1984 with a more progressive act. A new act was drafted in 1991 but it is yet to be considered by the government.

There is, however, another draft bill to replace the MSCS Act, which is lying before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and Cooperation for approval. But the CIP is demanding further amendments to it. The parliamentary committee has invited the CIP members for a discussion on the issue.

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


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Rs.1.65 bn trade package for Gujarat Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Ashraf Sayed
Gandhinagar, May 20: The Gujarat government has announced a Rs.1.65 billion relief package to revive trade and commerce and to help professionals in quake-devastated areas of Gujarat.

The Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) gave the finishing touches to the revival plan after debating the issue for more than three months.

According to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, it will offer financial assistance in the form of loans and interest subsidy over a period of two years.

Conflicting views on helping individuals as well as trade and commerce had delayed earlier announcement of the package, which will cover as many as 7,500 units and individuals.

Industries Minister Suresh Mehta, Finance and Revenue Minister Vajubhai Vala and chief secretary L.N.S. Mukundan attended a meeting where the package was decided. According to officials, a cash assistance of Rs.120,000 will be provided to affected units in Zone 4 and 5 of quake-hit areas and Rs.100,000 to units elsewhere.

The package also provides for interest subsidy up to Rs.200,000 for two years on loans to be taken by the service sectors units and traders from banks while a provision for interest free loan of up to Rs.400,000 has been made for doctors who lost their hospitals, nursing homes and pathology laboratories in the January 26 temblor.

The GSDMA has decided to set up six-member committees at sub-district and district levels, headed by the district collectors and additional collectors to scrutinize applications of the affected units and professionals.

Explaining the modalities for distribution of loans and assistance, Industries Minister Mehta told India Abroad News Service, "Cash assistance would be first deposited in banks, which could be later withdrawn by the affected parties who have yet to take up revival work. In case of units and professionals who have already carried out their revival program, the assistance will be disbursed directly."

Mehta said tenders worth Rs.730 million had been approved for the removal of more than two million tons of debris from the quake-ravaged Bhuj town. The town has been divided into five zones for completing the task in three months.

"The debris will be used for widening roads and highways around Bhuj and for preventing accumulation of water in some localities during monsoon," he said.

Mehta said at least three persons were killed when a house in Porbandar town in Saurashtra collapsed Thursday. This is the third building to collapse after the earthquake. Last week, a six-story Jain Bhavan in Bhuj feel apart, injuring half-a- dozen people. Earlier, a school building had collapsed in Anjar town.

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


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Rs.1.65 bn trade package for Gujarat Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Ashraf Sayed
Gandhinagar, May 20: The Gujarat government has announced a Rs.1.65 billion relief package to revive trade and commerce and to help professionals in quake-devastated areas of Gujarat.

The Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) gave the finishing touches to the revival plan after debating the issue for more than three months.

According to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, it will offer financial assistance in the form of loans and interest subsidy over a period of two years.

Conflicting views on helping individuals as well as trade and commerce had delayed earlier announcement of the package, which will cover as many as 7,500 units and individuals.

Industries Minister Suresh Mehta, Finance and Revenue Minister Vajubhai Vala and chief secretary L.N.S. Mukundan attended a meeting where the package was decided. According to officials, a cash assistance of Rs.120,000 will be provided to affected units in Zone 4 and 5 of quake-hit areas and Rs.100,000 to units elsewhere.

The package also provides for interest subsidy up to Rs.200,000 for two years on loans to be taken by the service sectors units and traders from banks while a provision for interest free loan of up to Rs.400,000 has been made for doctors who lost their hospitals, nursing homes and pathology laboratories in the January 26 temblor.

The GSDMA has decided to set up six-member committees at sub-district and district levels, headed by the district collectors and additional collectors to scrutinize applications of the affected units and professionals.

Explaining the modalities for distribution of loans and assistance, Industries Minister Mehta told India Abroad News Service, "Cash assistance would be first deposited in banks, which could be later withdrawn by the affected parties who have yet to take up revival work. In case of units and professionals who have already carried out their revival program, the assistance will be disbursed directly."

Mehta said tenders worth Rs.730 million had been approved for the removal of more than two million tons of debris from the quake-ravaged Bhuj town. The town has been divided into five zones for completing the task in three months.

"The debris will be used for widening roads and highways around Bhuj and for preventing accumulation of water in some localities during monsoon," he said.

Mehta said at least three persons were killed when a house in Porbandar town in Saurashtra collapsed Thursday. This is the third building to collapse after the earthquake. Last week, a six-story Jain Bhavan in Bhuj feel apart, injuring half-a- dozen people. Earlier, a school building had collapsed in Anjar town.

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


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Drought, quake putting financial strain on Gujarat Monday, May 21, 2001

By Ashraf Sayed, India Abroad News Service

Gandhinagar, May 20 - An acute drought situation coupled with the continuing after effects of the January 26 earthquake is putting a tremendous financial strain on Gujarat.

The state administration is roughly spending Rs. 120 million a day to provide "gainful employment" to about 2.72 million people engaged in relief work started in 13,313 villages in 190 sub-districts across 23 districts.

Having suffered staggering quake-related losses of more than Rs. 201.84 billion, the government now will have to spend Rs. 5 billion on relief site wages, Rs. 4 billion on drinking water supply to affected urban and rural areas and Rs. 1.75 billion on fodder and maintaining cattle camps in addition to other expenditure.

While Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala told IANS that Gujarat might have to take on the burden of at least Rs. 12 billion by the end of June on the drought front alone, senior finance department officials estimate the amount to be between Rs. 18 billion and Rs. 20 billion.

Vala expressed regret that the Central government had agreed to provide financial assistance of only Rs. 2 billion from the National Natural Calamity Relief Fund, making it very difficult for the state to raise additional resources. The state budget had provided only Rs. 6.31 billion for drought management.

He said the state's agricultural economy had been hit hard by two successive droughts, leading to production losses of Rs.136 billion. The state exchequer is spending between Rs. 22.5 billion and Rs. 25 billion on relief measures, including provision of drinking water.

Despite efforts by the government to meet the twin calamities of quake and drought, reports from rural areas of Saurashtra and north Gujarat indicate that at least 18 relief workers have died of starvation, malnutrition or sunstroke.

Moreover, "water riots" have now become common phenomena in some parts of the state that get potable water only once in a week or 10 days through tankers. Trading drinking water in urban areas of Saurashtra and north Gujarat is now a profitable proposition for enterprising businessmen.

According to Patel, to tackle natural calamities, his government has distributed 44 million kg of grass and three million kg of cattle feed to save the 10.7 million heads of cattle in the state.

The government had also planned to create a buffer stock of 200 million kg of fodder by purchasing it from other states. So far, 504 cattle camps have been set up to provide shelter to more than 300,000 cattle. The government has also passed on subsidy worth Rs. 130 million to voluntary organizations taking care of abandoned cattle.

Patel, however, denied reports of "starvation deaths" in drought-hit areas, saying his government has been distributing 20 kg of wheat and five kilograms of rice at highly subsidized rates to laborers at relief works. In addition, Rs. 1.18 million has been distributed in cash.

Some 75 percent of the 16 million quake-affected people in Kutch, Surendranagar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Amreli, Patan, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts are facing one of the worst droughts in 100 years, Patel said.

According to Water Supply Minister Narottam Patel, nearly 2,146 villages are being supplied water through 1,648 tankers. Besides, special water trains are being run to Rajula and Jaffrabad towns of Amreli district in Saurashtra.

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


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Drought, quake putting financial strain on Gujarat Monday, May 21, 2001

By Ashraf Sayed, India Abroad News Service

Gandhinagar, May 20 - An acute drought situation coupled with the continuing after effects of the January 26 earthquake is putting a tremendous financial strain on Gujarat.

The state administration is roughly spending Rs. 120 million a day to provide "gainful employment" to about 2.72 million people engaged in relief work started in 13,313 villages in 190 sub-districts across 23 districts.

Having suffered staggering quake-related losses of more than Rs. 201.84 billion, the government now will have to spend Rs. 5 billion on relief site wages, Rs. 4 billion on drinking water supply to affected urban and rural areas and Rs. 1.75 billion on fodder and maintaining cattle camps in addition to other expenditure.

While Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala told IANS that Gujarat might have to take on the burden of at least Rs. 12 billion by the end of June on the drought front alone, senior finance department officials estimate the amount to be between Rs. 18 billion and Rs. 20 billion.

Vala expressed regret that the Central government had agreed to provide financial assistance of only Rs. 2 billion from the National Natural Calamity Relief Fund, making it very difficult for the state to raise additional resources. The state budget had provided only Rs. 6.31 billion for drought management.

He said the state's agricultural economy had been hit hard by two successive droughts, leading to production losses of Rs.136 billion. The state exchequer is spending between Rs. 22.5 billion and Rs. 25 billion on relief measures, including provision of drinking water.

Despite efforts by the government to meet the twin calamities of quake and drought, reports from rural areas of Saurashtra and north Gujarat indicate that at least 18 relief workers have died of starvation, malnutrition or sunstroke.

Moreover, "water riots" have now become common phenomena in some parts of the state that get potable water only once in a week or 10 days through tankers. Trading drinking water in urban areas of Saurashtra and north Gujarat is now a profitable proposition for enterprising businessmen.

According to Patel, to tackle natural calamities, his government has distributed 44 million kg of grass and three million kg of cattle feed to save the 10.7 million heads of cattle in the state.

The government had also planned to create a buffer stock of 200 million kg of fodder by purchasing it from other states. So far, 504 cattle camps have been set up to provide shelter to more than 300,000 cattle. The government has also passed on subsidy worth Rs. 130 million to voluntary organizations taking care of abandoned cattle.

Patel, however, denied reports of "starvation deaths" in drought-hit areas, saying his government has been distributing 20 kg of wheat and five kilograms of rice at highly subsidized rates to laborers at relief works. In addition, Rs. 1.18 million has been distributed in cash.

Some 75 percent of the 16 million quake-affected people in Kutch, Surendranagar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Amreli, Patan, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts are facing one of the worst droughts in 100 years, Patel said.

According to Water Supply Minister Narottam Patel, nearly 2,146 villages are being supplied water through 1,648 tankers. Besides, special water trains are being run to Rajula and Jaffrabad towns of Amreli district in Saurashtra.

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


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