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May 18, 2001 - May 18, 2001

Gold biscuits’ case accused dies Friday, May 18, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 17: The main accused in the missing gold biscuits case, Devang Shah, died mysteriously on Thursday morning at 8.30 am leaving behind a trail of unanswered questions and numerous possibilities.
Rumours of Shah having committed suicide floated around and only after the post-mortem report comes out can the mystery be solved.

The possibility of foul play was also not ruled out. Commissioner of police P C Pande said that the sequence of events is still not clear to him. “Why should Shah commit suicide when he had already delivered all the gold and the silver to Guru Exports, a sister concern of K L Choksi company and also had the delivery challans for proof,” he asked. “Also he couldn’t have died of a cardiac arrest caused due to the poison he had taken on May 6,” said Mr Pande.

He felt that a conclusion of the cause of Shah’s death could only be made after the post-mortem report arrived. According to Dr Roopkumar Aggrawal, who was treating Shah at Chandramani Hospital, Shahibaug, the latter died of a cardiac arrest.

“But he said that it was a sudden death, since when Shah was checked at 3.00 am by the doctor he was in good health then and also when the nurse checked him at 5.00 am.” But by 6.00 am, a relative who was with him, asked the doctor to check him again since he went into a cardiac arrest. The doctors tried to revive him and his heart did response for a brief period but he finally breathed his last at 8.30 am.

Dr Aggrawal said that Mr Shah had developed Hepatitis and pancreatitics since the past three days. Dr Aggrawal added that Shah had also developed an electrolyte imbalance which he felt had resulted in the cardiac arrest.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that Navrangpura police had taken Shah for interrogation for an hour on Wednesday and brought him back. They were to arrest him on Thursday morning and take him into custody.

During interrogation, Shah revealed that he was verbally told by a junior official of State Bank of India, overseas branch, to send the gold biscuits and the 39 tonnes of silver which arrived at the airport to Guru Exports and he had done so. But Pande felt that if Shah was in the clear and had delivered the consignment he had no need to commit suicide or to feel stressed out which could result in his cardiac arrest.

It might be recalled that Shah had tried to commit suicide by taking poison and cut his wrists on May 6 after more than 1000 gold biscuits went missing from the vaults of B V C Travel Agency where he was the branch manager. Gold and silver from the United Bank of Switzerland via the Mat company had arrived at Ahmedabad airport and was to be delivered by B V C Travel Agency to the respective company according to the directives of the State Bank of India Overseas Branch.

Any directives given by SBI had to be given in writing as a delivery order but Shah had said that he got only verbal orders and had delivered the consignment to Guru Exports.

Mr Pande found it incredible that a bank like SBI could function for such large consignments on verbal instructions. Police has also questioned SBI officials, who have denied giving Mr Shah any verbal instructions on gold and the silver.

Mr Pande said that since the gold and silver, which went missing was huge in quantity, it just couldn’t disappear and would be traceable sooner or later. But of course the question remains that though the consignment was delivered to Guru Exports, who had asked Mr Shah to send it?

Or did Shah do it on his own. So then why Shah feel the need to commit suicide in the first place when he was not involved in the fraud. All these questions could have been answered only by Shah but now all this remains a remote possiblity.

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


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Pakistan to release India’s 157 fishermen Friday, May 18, 2001

Gandhinagar, May 17: Minister of state for fisheries and food and civil supplies Babu Bokhirya said Pakistan has decided to release 157 fishermen and 25 boats captured by them on May 25. It may be recalled that a state delegation had gone to Pakistan seeking release of fishermen caught by the Pakistan Marine Agency. The released fishermen are scheduled to reach Okha port on May 26.

The cases registered against the fishermen will be withdrawn from May 22 and the fishermen will be handed over to the Gujarat delegation on May 23. Mr Bokhiriya informed that the fishing boats will collect the essential goods on May 24 and on May 25 they will be released by the Pakistan Marine Agency from their coastal boundary after communicating the decision to the Indian high commissioner in Pakistan.

The state delegation will meet the Pakistani authorities on May 21 to give a final shape to the entire procedure. The delegation will also hold talks for the release of the remaining fishermen caught by the Pakistani coastal patrol by September.

Meanwhile, repairs are being carried out on 17 of the 25 boats while eight boats will be sent for repairs on Thursday. The fishermen, who will reach Okha, will be examined by the medical team of the state government and a function to welcome them will also be organised, Mr Bokhiriya said.

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


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If plans click, city to become air cargo hub Friday, May 18, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 17: The commissioner of customs in Gujarat has recently issued a notification aimed at making Ahmedabad a hub for international air cargo. This will make it possible for direct international flights to land at Ahmedabad with import cargo meant for Ahmedabad at clearance at Ahmedabad and transshipment to other custom stations in India.

International flights will also be able to carry export cargo from Indian CargoDepot Ahmedabad as well as export cargo cleared at other custom station meant for various destinations abroad and brought to Ahmedabad under bonded trucking facility.

Earlier, the cargo used to land at Mumbai and than moved to ICD Ahmedabad via train. But the Container Corporation of India Ltd. has recently signed an agreement with Panalpina world transport India Private Ltd. Hence the cargo not only can be sent to various parts of the world via Ahmedabad but can also be brought to Ahmedabad from all over the world.

The custom commissioner has spelled out a specific procedure for import and export via this hub, according to which the carrier cargo meant for clearance through ICD Ahmedabad including T P cargo will file intimation 24 hours prior to arrival of the air craft. The inspectors and sepoy will supervise the unloading of the cargo.

The cargo will be transported in closed body trucks to ICD; Ahmedabad under customs escort and proper security will be provided till the cargo is deposited at ICD. At the hub, the cargo will be checked by customs once again.

R.P. Khandelwal, assistant commissioner ICD told The Asian Age that the international cargo handling in Ahmedabad would be very successful. He said “ At present, maximum cargo land in Mumbai but now the cargo will land directly at the Ahmedabad airport which will make things very cheap.

The air cargo handling in Mumbai is very expensive plus the city is very congested. Since there is no problem of space in Ahmedabad and the charges are cheaper, people will pay less and get the clearance faster.” “The cargo for entire Gujarat will land at Ahmedabad and then it will transported to other ICDs and will be cleared there. Once the hub starts working, the nearby states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will also be benefited and the whole traffic for the western region will be diverted to Ahmedabad.” he added.

At present there are three ICDs in Gujarat, located at Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat. In a short time other cities like Rajkot will also have an ICD which will make up a good network. While a customs official on conditions of anonymity said that “ This facility is very good but will not be successful in Gujarat. There are no multinational companies in Gujarat.

Moreover, the container traffic here is not that heavy, hence, train is more affordable. This will prove very expensive for the small businessmen.”

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


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Needs draw carnivores to concrete jungles Friday, May 18, 2001

By Nandini Oza

Vadodara, May 17: On Wednesday night, security officer of Mayo Hospital made a frantic call to the Gujarat Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Reason: the hospital staff had spotted a leopard, soon panic spread, as the hospital is not located far from human habitation.

In what is becoming an alarming trend, this carnivorous species of animal has started venturing into areas of human habitation, apparently in search of water and food. The second successive year of drought in the central Gujarat has started making forest and sanctuary area alien for these animals.

Leopard sneaking in a vastly populated area is not a solitary instance in the Vadodara Circle of the Forest Department covering Vadodara and Panchmahals. About a month ago, a leopard was traced at the City Resort, a resort now non-functional near the bypass in Vadodara.

That the drought has severely affected the sanctuary and forest areas, and efforts of the Forest Department in filling up ponds are not getting desired results is indicative from the rising number of instances of leopards being spotted in the cities and villages.

Speaking to The Asian Age, Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) of Central and South Gujarat Region R. N. Tripathi admitted that this year the number of such instances have been on the rise. “In the sanctuary areas we manage to fill up the ponds but in the forest areas, these animals have to depend on the local sources,” Mr Tripathi informed. The CF observed that in Panchmahals the trend has continued for the last several years. About the case of Mayo Hospital, he said that cages have been kept to trap the animal.

The leopard at the Mayo Hospital has only killed one dog but this was not the case in Kawant taluka of the Vadodara district about a month ago. Divisional Conservator of Forests (Chhotaudepur division) Mahendrasinh Parmar told that in Kawant the leopard attacked young girl. She ultimately succumbed to injuries, Mr Parmar said. “Usually the leopards do not attack human-beings but may be it mistook the girl as a goat or something else,” he mentioned.

Some time back, in the Devgadhbaria range, a forest department employee sustained injuries when he had gone to rescues members of a family where the leopard had sneaked in. Villagers say that many a times, the leopards often fall in the wells when they come in search of water.

The DFO Chhotaudepur too admits that filling up ponds in the sanctuary areas alone is not enough to prevent leopards straying into areas of human habitation. He observes that the effect of drought has been so severe that there is less foliage even on the trees.

Sanjay Mehta, DFO of the Vadodara division, explains that it so happens that once the leopard comes out of the forest or sanctuary areas it loses direction. According to highly placed Forest Department sources, at many places, due to cattle migration in search of food, the carnivorous animals are also forced to move out in the cities and villages.

“The Department should provide adequate water in the forest areas,” Rajesh Bhavsar of the GSPCA feels. He says that the trend is unlikely to stop unless the Department chalks out an action plan to keep maximum number of herbivores in the forest areas.

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


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New civil cadre for state municipalities Friday, May 18, 2001

By Binita Parikh

Ahmedabad, May 17: The state is all set to get a new civil service cadre where the recruits will get an opening in administration as chief officers of municipalities. The Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology has been roped in for training the cadre.

Till date, retired revenue department officials or promotees manned the post. But it was felt that direct recruitment to these posts would mean creating a cadre that will focus on the development of the municipalities.

There was a feeling that ad hoc appointment of chief officers of the municipalities led to “a lack of vision and commitment,” which stunned development of the municipalities. In all there are 143 municipalities in the state and it is expected that the new recruits will be able to provide an impetus to the services that the urban local bodies provide.

A six-month induction training programme will be conducted by Cept where the cadre of municipal chief officers will get training in collaboration with the Gujarat Municipal Finance Board. In all, 25 different laws and Acts will be taught to the trainees.

The director of Cept, Prof. H.M.Shivananad Swamy told The Asian Age that they are planning to conduct the course in such a way that it will broaden the perspective of the recruits while making them ready to take on their responsibilities.

Therefore, besides seven compulsory papers, like the Nagar Palika Act, six other courses also have been incorporated. Such a long training programme is a first for Cept and Prof. Swamy said, “There was a felt need to change the training pattern. With the collaboration of the government, we are taking a new step in this field by incorporating yoga, karate, communication skills in Hindi, English and Gujarati, computer training, HRD, organisational behaviour, project planning and finance among other things.”

Moreover, a series of lectures from renowned experts in their field will be held so the cadre is exposed to different trends. Director of municipalities D.J. Dhariaya told The Asian Age, “The new cadre will help accumulate experience in municipality’s development.

With the involvement of Cept, we wish to impart modern concepts and different approaches to training.” While the final selection and recommendation of the candidates was done on basis of oral interviews conducted by the Gujarat Public Service Commission six months ago, the formal registration of the candidates for the cadre was done on Wednesday. In all 67 candidates have been selected for Grade II and III services, including seven women candidates.

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


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