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May 21, 2001 - May 21, 2001

SBI official held over gold biscuit scam issue Monday, May 21, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 20: The Navrangpura police arrested Mohit Srivastava, a State Bank of India official, late on Saturday night, suspecting foul play behind the death of Devang Shah. He was presented before the magistrate late on Sunday night, according to Sector 1 joint commissioner, M K Tandon.

Shah, the main accused in the missing gold biscuit scam of the BVC Travel Agency, died of cardiac arrest on Thursday. Srivastava’s arrest follows a complaint lodged by the deceased’s wife Daksha Shah on Saturday, who had accused Srivastava, Naresh Choksi and three officers of SBI overseas branch of driving the victim to commit suicide.

The Navrangpura police has registered a criminal offence against all the accused named in the complaint. While Naresh Choksi, Prashant Choksi and Jignesh Choksi have already been arrested and sent to Sabarmati jail, the police revealed that it would arrest another SBI officer, Shekhar D’Costa very soon.

It is significant to note that the branch manager of BVC Company’s Mumbai branch had lodged a complaint . According to sources, K L Choksi group and the SBI officers accused in the complaint had made things ‘difficult’ for Devang Shah.

According to the investigation officer, “Following the order placed by the SBI overseas branch, United Bank of Switzerland had sent 1,000 gold biscuits on March 2. Mr Shrivastav asked the BVC travels to deliver the biscuits to Guru Exports . SBI, Delhi realised that the payment for 1,000 gold biscuits was due and hence conducted an inspection.

Mohit and D’Costa asked Devang Shah to arrange for the 1,000 gold biscuits. Mr Shah had already delivered the gold biscuits to Guru exports following Mr. Shrivastav’s instruction. A team from SBI Delhi came to Ahmedabad. By that time Devang Shah had arranged the biscuits in his company’s strongroom.

The inspection was over and the team went back after seeing the boxes.”On March 24, the Delhi team sent a fax, asking Shah to deposit 1,000 gold biscuits at the main office in Delhi. Devang Shah took help from another company having 2000 gold biscuits of Standard Chartered bank.

1000 gold biscuits were sent into five parcels to Delhi by the officers of the SBI overseas branch. When Standard Chartered Bank came to know about their biscuits being stolen, they lodged the complaint. After this Devang Shah tried to adjust the biscuits with help of another brand but failed to do so.
Related News - Police may file case against SBI officials

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

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SC order on sanctuaries ‘violated’ Monday, May 21, 2001

Gandhinagar, May 20: In what may be a blatant violation of the Supreme Court orders restricting felling trees in sanctuaries, national parks and forests the chief wild life warden G.A. Patel has reportedly pushed several proposals of bamboo cutting in the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife sanctuary. The entire area of Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary falls under the Wildlife Habitat Working Circle.

Sources informed that the chief conservator of forests (WL), who also holds the statutory position of the chief wildlife warden of the state, has contravened all the rulings of the Supreme Court by repeatedly giving a go by to exploitation of bamboo from the Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary areas.

Forest officials told The Asian Age that the Supreme Court on December 12, 1996, had given directions suspending felling of trees in all forests except in accordance with the “working plan” of the state government duly approved by the Centre, on a writ petition filed in the court.

On February 14, 2000, the Supreme Court had restrained all states from ordering the removal of dead and diseased trees from any natural park or game sanctuary or forest, and had stayed any order passed by any state for the removal of the same.

The orders were modified on February 28, 2000 restraining the removal of dead, diseased only from any National Park or game sanctuary.Officials contend that on December 18, 1999, the CCF (WL) had ordered the removal of bamboo from the Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary on the plea that it is for the development of the sanctuary and for “wildlife habitat improvement” permitting cutting of the bamboo till February 29, 2000.

An official claimed that a close look reveals that fire hazard had been added as an afterthought to justify massive felling operations on a commercial scale to generate revenue and not for improving the habitat. Reliable sources however denied the above charges and said the CCF (WL) had fully apprised the government, who has the authority to pass such orders, and that the state government had passed having full knowledge of the SC orders.

“There has been no contravention as minor forest produce and bamboos are not included in the orders passed by the Supreme Court. The state government had sought legal advice before passing the orders and even the advocate of the Supreme Court had given a green signal and said there was no violation in the removal of bamboo,” a forest official claimed.

The official claimed the CCF (WL) has no control over illicit cutting and harvesting and his only concern was that of fire while the entire control remained in the hands of the PCCF and the CCF-D&M. Officials further claimed that the CCF-WL had also thereafter made a proposal to the state government to extend the time limit up to March 31, 2000.

On the plea of methodical working, as well as to provide livelihood to the people inhabiting the sanctuary in violation of the Supreme Court order dated February 14, 2000. The officials further alleged that Mr Patel had later sought to extend the cutting of bamboo through under several pleas through an order dated March 9, 2000.

Officials alleged the chief wildlife warden had gone a step further and proposed removal of bamboo from the core area of the Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary on order dated March 3, 2000 in direct contravention of the Supreme Court order in the writ petition dated February 14 and 28.

Several extensions had been sought thereafter from the state government for bamboo harvesting through proposal dated March 2, 2000, May 31, 2000 and June 30, 2000 for transportation of this material and as late as October to extend the limit for one more month, sources claimed.

Officials claimed that Mr Patel consistently and assiduously continued to flout the Supreme Court orders in 2000-2001 by advocating that the removal of bamboo is permitted from Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary as per the Working Plan of D.K. Sharma in the interest of wildlife, addition-improvement and management of the sanctuary.

Simultaneously, the CCF WL also wrote a letter dated April 14, 1999 to CCF- D&M with permitting bamboo cutting from Purna sanctuary with a copy to CF-WL asking him to inspect and report whether work has been done as per Wildlife Conservation Act 1972.

The report given by the CF (WL) that the permission of cutting had been done as per the WCA and that as per the prescription of the WP which is to obtain maximum sustained yeild and to meet local and commercial demand, was quite at variance from the interest of the wildlife as exploitation had been banned in the Wildlife sanctuaries.

He further reported that bamboo cutting beyond March is detrimental both to bamboo regernation and to Wildlife and that fires in this area which had been advocated by the CCF (WL) were few and far. Mr Patel had allegedly asked the CF-WL to replace the above report and to submit a report immediately that there is no violation of any conditions and the work is satisfactory.

Officials contend that the findings clearly show that the CCF-WL willfully ignored the technical requirements of wildlife and allowed the interest mill to supersede it, an act of abject betrayal to the position of the CCF (WL). They further contended that bamboo exploitation is against the Principles of Wildlife Management because the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, prohibits all commercial felling and exploitation in wildlife sanctuaries.

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

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Census on Asiatic lions might not be accurate, opine experts Monday, May 21, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 20: Wildlife experts are in a quandary over the methods adopted by the state forest department to count the last surviving Asiatic lions at Gir wildlife sanctuary after a three-day lion census ended on May 17. They opine that the census method might not provide the authentic figures of the surviving Asiatic lions in their only abode in Asia. The government is still to declare the count after the survey.

Saurashtra region WWF in-charge Pradip Pandya and veteran wild life expert Lalsinh Rawal, who have written many books on wildlife, opine that this method would only give a rough estimation of the count of lions in Gir. Although no method would have given the exact count, the present method adopted this time, would be worse to judge the number than the ‘bait’ method which was used earlier, they added.

Due to the controversy last year over the use of ‘bait’ method, the state forest department had to opt for another method for counting of lions this year. The forest department carried out the counting of lions by beat verification method this time, dividing the entire forest in 206 beats. The forest department staff were appointed as beat persons.

According to this method, the beat persons were given charts of a male lion and a female lion. With the help of binoculars, the beat person had to observe the animal specifically for any spot on the body. For example, if one of the eyes of the animal had dark shadows underneath, they had to put a mark on the eye of the chart and count the lions through this method.

The final figure of lions would be derived from the charts. Mr Pandya said the counting would depend on expertise of the ‘beat’ person. He said that counting by bait method would have given perfect estimation than the beat method used this time.Mr Rawal, who is based in Ahmedabad, said that counting of lions can never be exact this way.

He too supported the bait method.Top official of state forest department said that they were not happy with the beat verification method. “The `bait’ method for counting of lions was a perfect method and those who have opposed the method last year have also adopted this point,’’ the official added.

Principal chief conservator of forest, Dr D P S Verma, said that every method of counting has its own drawbacks. “So is the case with beat verification method. But they would get clear picture by this method also,” he added. Mr Varma also added that they would declare the exact figure of lions in the coming days.

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

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500 investors take part in ‘Bear Market’ seminar Monday, May 21, 2001

Vadodara May 20: Over 500 investors of the city took part in a seminar on “Investment Strategy for the Bear Market”, organised by Sharekhan here on Saturday. Sharekhan, a part of SSKI Investor Services Pvt. Limited, a 50-year-old enterprise has recently opened a franchise in Vadodara.

The seminar was organised in association with LMP Motors with an aim of educating the investors of the city. Speaking on the occasion, Vetri Subramanium, chief investment officer from Sharekhan said that often misleading information drives the investors and sentiments and they suffer huge losses.

He further said that it is necessary for the investors to know about the benefits of a disciplined way of investing. According to an official of Sharekhan, each of its outlet provides facilities like online trading, depository services, margin based trading, derivatives trading, and free access to interments.

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

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MSU toppers given Eklavya scholarship Monday, May 21, 2001

Ahmedabad May 20: The students of the social work department in the Maharaja Sayajirao University, who topped the academic sessions this year, were awarded the Eklavya Scholarships of Excellence by the Eklavya Education Foundation, Ahmedabad on Saturday.

The award winners also comprises students from Dharmsinh Desai Institute of Technology, Nadiad, Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad and Institute of Rural Management, Anand.

The award that constituted gold and silver medal, a certificate and Rs 2500, was given away by Mr V.D.Pathak, the pro vice- chancellor of the M.S.University. While speaking on the occasion he said that it is an appreciable job done by the foundation as by this the students get an inspiration and motivation to perform better.

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

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