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May 13, 2001 - May 15, 2001

Keshubhai for preparation to boost Kharif output Tuesday, May 15, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel has directed the State Agriculture Department to make advance preparation to motivate farmers for higher Kharif yield especially in scarcity-hit areas.

The chief minister on Monday reviewed various activities of agriculture department and elicited information about various issues like availability of fertiliser, seeds, agriculture inputs, crop insurance scheme and implementation of package for agriculture sector in earthquake devastated areas, an official release said here.

Minister of state for agriculture Becharbhai Bhadani, who accompanied Patel, said the distribution of 4300 tonne of groundnut seeds taken from seeds corporation has started.

"There is an adequate supply of fertiliser, seeds and pesticides for distribution to the farmers", the release quoting Bhadani said here.

Patel stressed the need for making proper arrangements for agriculture inputs and their distribution through co-operative federation, organisations and mandalis and suggested to take necessary measures to draw the attention of Reserve Bank of India to take necessary steps towards the debts of farmers in co-operative banks and creation of necessary lending facility.

The chief minister said for the first time this year, the banks had released rs 592 crore under the crop insurance scheme. Besides, the scarcity-affected farmers have been benefitted under the crop insurance scheme for 13 crops from the banks, the release added.

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

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Christian body seeks NHRC's intervention Monday, May 14, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The All-India Christian Council has sought intervention of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) "to check the increasing incidents of attacks on minorities" in central Gujarat during the past few weeks.

In a letter to NHRC chairman, council executive member Samson Christian has alleged that burial grounds of Christian community were being desecrated and encroached upon in Kheda district and nearby areas.

"Members of the Christian community were being threatened by antisocials and the police was biased towards their complaints", a release quoting Samson added.

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

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A parched Saurashtra village turns green Monday, May 14, 2001

India Abroad News Service

For years their land was cracked and parched. Then the villagers of Rajsamathiala in drought prone Gujarat hit upon an idea that has today turned their land verdant green.

The rain-water harvesting project started by the villagers themselves brought water and greenery to a land that had been declared a "non resource village," says a report in the Indian Express newspaper.

"We did not allow the rain water to flow away, whatever rain we received was injected into the ground itself. We got only four inches of annual rainfall against the normal 20 inches but our wells still have water," Milubhai Lathia, a villager was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Today the villagers point out that with three water pumps working round the clock, all houses in the village have drinking water. Vegetables and the groundnut crop can be seen in the fields. All this is thanks to the 45 check dams, 13 percolation wells and a watershed project.

"Last year it rained four inches but we stored the water through percolation tanks. We also mapped dykes and built check dams. As a result, we have sufficient ground water now and it will last for another two months easily," the head of the village council Hardevsinh Jadeja told the newspaper.

The check dams have been built at various places over two streams in the past decade. Percolation wells were dug to harvest the spill over from the check dams and use it for recharging the groundwater. "The percolation rate here, because of the special wells, is thrice of that in other areas. So the groundwater gets recharged much faster," Jadeja told the newspaper.

His village council sought help from the Indian Space research Organization in the water-harvesting project. ISRO helped map ground water movement, dry areas and underground storage space.

The village council has in turn won much acclaim for saving the region from tuning into a virtual desert. Rajsamathiala has been declared as having the best village council in the state by the state government and has been given Rs. 25,000 in prize money. The state government's Gokul Gram Yojna has recognized Rajsamathiala as a "model village".

More importantly the villagers are now infused with a feeling of self-reliance. "Our village does not have to depend on tankers. We supply water daily to all the houses. Water is still available at 40 feet in the bores and there is abundant water in the wells in the fields," Jadeja told the newspaper.

While they once waited anxiously for rain laden clouds, the villagers are now not worried about any delay in the monsoons. They have enough water in their wells to keep them going till July.

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

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'Gujarat must upgrade its disaster management' Sunday, May 13, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Union Home Minister L K Advani on Saturday said Gujarat being a "multi-hazard zone" must upgrade its preparedness to cope with natural disasters to a top-notch level.

Speaking at a seminar on "Sustainable Recovery and Vulnerability Reduction" here, Advani said floods, droughts, cyclones and even earthquakes had been a recurring phenomena in Gujarat for years.

"But every time the disaster occurs in the state or at any other place, an impression is generated that there was something lacking in the level of preparedness to mitigate the effects of the crisis," the minister said.

Advani said natural calamities could not be prevented, but an effective disaster preparedness system can always reduce the adverse effects and vulnerability of the people.

Hafiz Paza, United Nation's assistant secretary general, said the UN is planning to set up a centre for disaster management in New Delhi. (PTI)

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

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Quake-damaged house collapses in Bhuj, injures six Sunday, May 13, 2001

Bhuj, May 12 (AFP) - At least six people were injured on Saturday when a two-storey house, damaged by January's devastating earthquake in the city of Bhuj, collapsed, the Press Trust of India said.

The news agency said the victims were living in the house despite warnings from experts that it was unsafe. The building crashed down without a warning.

More than 20,000 people were killed and a million others rendered homeless when the January 26 quake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale flattened Bhuj.

Buildings which survived the earthquake and the aftershocks in the following days developed massive cracks and have been earmarked for demolition.

News Source :
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