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May 9, 2001 - May 10, 2001

BJP admits 'karseva' failed to achieve target Thursday, May 10, 2001

AHMEDABAD: BJP state unit president Rajendrasinh Rana said the 'karseva' launched by the party in the earthquake ravaged Kutch district has failed to achieve the desired result.

"It (the failure) was mainly on account of practical problems like non-availability of construction materials in many villages and towns and slow-paced disbursement of assistance to the quake victims", Rana told reporters here.

The party has so far undertaken 'karseva' in three phases in the quake-hit areas of Kutch district, Rana said adding the fourth one would begin on Thursday.

As many as 6,100 'karsevaks' had participated in the first three phases to construct and repair houses in 89 villages, the state bjp president said.

About 2501 volunteers would take part in the fourth phase of 'karseva' to be undertaken in over 100 villages of 26 tehsils of Kutch district, he added.

There would be no more bjp sponsored karsevas for the reconstruction of damaged houses in the quake-hit areas after May 17, Rana added.

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Police arrest official for abetting faulty construction Thursday, May 10, 2001

Ahmedabad: Police have arrested a municipal corporation official here on charges of abetting in the faulty construction of a building that collapsed in the January 26 earthquake, killing five persons.

Jayantilal Premshanker Sompura, an assistant town development officer with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), was charged Tuesday with culpable homicide for "facilitating" the faulty construction of the Vidyalaxmi Apartment blocks located in city's west zone.

According to police, Sompura, who was posted in the area between 1992-94, issued a building use certificate despite being aware about the fact that builders had not adhered to existing building by-laws.

Police, however, were unable to arrest Vallabhbhai J. Dhanani, another AMC official, as they could not find him at his residence.

The January 26 earthquake killed about 25,000 people in Gujarat, including more than 700 in Ahmedabad, the state's principal city.

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Gujarat villages suffer acute power shortage Thursday, May 10, 2001

BARODA: A large number of villages in Gujarat have been without electricity for days now because of an acute shortage of power.

"The demand for power has gone up to 8,000 mw due to summer season while some of its units located in the coal based thermal power station have developed technical snags and have been shut worsening the power situation", Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) sources told PTI.

Closure of its thermal power station has created a power deficit of about 700 MW and GEB finds it difficult to make it up as it is not in a position to get assistance from its counterparts in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra both - facing the problem of capacity shortage.

To tackle the power crisis GEB has been forced to pull out about 11 KVA feeders from the power system that supplies power to villages everyday, sources said, adding, if necessary steps are not taken it would become difficult for GEB to maintain supply to all parts of the state.

The gap between demand and supply for power is around 1500 MW, even as GEB has started buying power from the independent power producers (IPPS) to tide over the situation.

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Sparing a thought for children in Bhuj! Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Bhuj, May 9: Ask any child and he'd list a promotion to the next class without exams and indefinite holidays among his fancies. Not in Bhuj, where they have not attended classes for three months and there still are not any signs when they will be able to do so.

Today, children in this quake ravaged region are ready to trade anything for a regular class and complete their syllabus, take exams and are wary of playing games all day.

At St Xavier's School, atop a small hillock, they report every morning at half past six (0100 GMT), for the summer camp to play games like basket ball and skating to put behind gory memories of a past that continues to haunt them at home.

The summer camp for school children, the only one underway for children in the city, began within a month of the January 26 quake as an attempt at helping children to cope with the changed schedule of living in tents with fears and worries of the adults affecting them, says Suresh Waghela, a sports instructor at the school.

The camp in the initial days also had volunteers from the Tata Insititute of Social Sciences, who took classes for the students and taught them several post trauma exercises, says Father Paul, school principal.

"They taught us various games and some paper-making crafts," says Mukti Solia, who studies in "3rd A."

As she skirts the skating rink a little diffidently holding the hands of the skating instructor, Mukti says, she now has faint memories of the quake.

Kartik, a seventh standard student, is now adept at netting the ball. "Earlier I could do it after more than ten attempts.

"I used to play cricket in the annual summer vacation camps of the school, but this time the ground was occupied with the relief material stacked there."

According to the principal, the summer camps are an annual feature. Only this year it got prolonged, but for good.

"The feedback from the parents indicates that they are appreciative of the camp as it has given the children an opportunity to divert attention from the problem that has befallen them," he says.

The diversion, however, seems momentary. As the school has calibrated the results on the basis of performance in the first two semesters, several students are worried over the percentage of marks they would get and how they would cope in the next class.

"While the quake happened just after the second term exams, the marks for two terms are there. But we have had no classes for the third term and have been promoted," says Radhika, a ninth standard student, expressing apprehensions of how she would fare in the next class.

With no signs of when the schools would reopen, the students' fears are only mounting. And so of the authorities.

According to Father Paul, the state education government has tentatively announced June 11 as the date for all the schools in the state to reopen.

But teachers fear that the date could be revised depending upon the repair of the school buildings or creation of adequate structures for conducting classes in the region.

Father Paul estimates that his school would need Rs 400 million on building repairs. At present authorities are spending their own money and not waiting for compensation clearance that would be provided after the damage assessment and other formalities.

But then this is a school that is an unaided one. For the ones run on state money the going could be tough. The government estimates have put the damage to the education sector at a whopping Rs 8.84 billion.

Board exams have been held and even under tents, note some teachers lauding the efforts of the state government in ensuring that students did not lose an year.

Even as fears over timely reopening of schools loom large, schools are likely to face yet another problem of the staff migrating to regions outside Kutch and students seeking admissions elsewhere.

Paul admits to the resignation of at least two South Indian Teachers "who have gone back home."

The Army and Air force schools have been closed for this academic year, he says noting that several other private schools have also closed.

How the students will be adjusted in other institutions remains to be seen.

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Sparing a thought for children in Bhuj! Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Bhuj, May 9: Ask any child and he'd list a promotion to the next class without exams and indefinite holidays among his fancies. Not in Bhuj, where they have not attended classes for three months and there still are not any signs when they will be able to do so.

Today, children in this quake ravaged region are ready to trade anything for a regular class and complete their syllabus, take exams and are wary of playing games all day.

At St Xavier's School, atop a small hillock, they report every morning at half past six (0100 GMT), for the summer camp to play games like basket ball and skating to put behind gory memories of a past that continues to haunt them at home.

The summer camp for school children, the only one underway for children in the city, began within a month of the January 26 quake as an attempt at helping children to cope with the changed schedule of living in tents with fears and worries of the adults affecting them, says Suresh Waghela, a sports instructor at the school.

The camp in the initial days also had volunteers from the Tata Insititute of Social Sciences, who took classes for the students and taught them several post trauma exercises, says Father Paul, school principal.

"They taught us various games and some paper-making crafts," says Mukti Solia, who studies in "3rd A."

As she skirts the skating rink a little diffidently holding the hands of the skating instructor, Mukti says, she now has faint memories of the quake.

Kartik, a seventh standard student, is now adept at netting the ball. "Earlier I could do it after more than ten attempts.

"I used to play cricket in the annual summer vacation camps of the school, but this time the ground was occupied with the relief material stacked there."

According to the principal, the summer camps are an annual feature. Only this year it got prolonged, but for good.

"The feedback from the parents indicates that they are appreciative of the camp as it has given the children an opportunity to divert attention from the problem that has befallen them," he says.

The diversion, however, seems momentary. As the school has calibrated the results on the basis of performance in the first two semesters, several students are worried over the percentage of marks they would get and how they would cope in the next class.

"While the quake happened just after the second term exams, the marks for two terms are there. But we have had no classes for the third term and have been promoted," says Radhika, a ninth standard student, expressing apprehensions of how she would fare in the next class.

With no signs of when the schools would reopen, the students' fears are only mounting. And so of the authorities.

According to Father Paul, the state education government has tentatively announced June 11 as the date for all the schools in the state to reopen.

But teachers fear that the date could be revised depending upon the repair of the school buildings or creation of adequate structures for conducting classes in the region.

Father Paul estimates that his school would need Rs 400 million on building repairs. At present authorities are spending their own money and not waiting for compensation clearance that would be provided after the damage assessment and other formalities.

But then this is a school that is an unaided one. For the ones run on state money the going could be tough. The government estimates have put the damage to the education sector at a whopping Rs 8.84 billion.

Board exams have been held and even under tents, note some teachers lauding the efforts of the state government in ensuring that students did not lose an year.

Even as fears over timely reopening of schools loom large, schools are likely to face yet another problem of the staff migrating to regions outside Kutch and students seeking admissions elsewhere.

Paul admits to the resignation of at least two South Indian Teachers "who have gone back home."

The Army and Air force schools have been closed for this academic year, he says noting that several other private schools have also closed.

How the students will be adjusted in other institutions remains to be seen.

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