Rediscover Gujarat. Rediscover the Gujarati in you !!


Channels : Free Home Pages | Chat | Discussion Board | Graffiti | Music | Reminder Services | Calendar | Horoscope | Dating | Weather | Matrimonial | Jobs

Info

City Guides | City News | Education | Festivals | Food | Greetings | Earthquake fact file | Home

May 6, 2001 - May 7, 2001

Welcome change in Barodians' attitude to trees Monday, May 7, 2001

VADODARA: Residents of the Banyan City are undergoing a change in attitude towards trees. They are going green. Just a few years ago efforts by NGOs to grow more trees in city areas met with either a cold shoulder or resistance from residents. But now things are changing for the better, say environmentalists.

"There is a distinct change in attitude amongst citizens in Vadodara. Many have started helping city-based environment organisations and officials of the social forestry division in planting more trees near their homes," says Baroda Beautiful Council director RO Shah.

According to him citizens of Vadodara, especially those who are more aware, have started helping them in taking care of saplings that are grown near their homes.

"This is a distinct change in attitude. In early 90s when we tried growing trees in their societies most residents disliked the idea. When we planted trees in some of the old city areas near the Leharipura gate we were asked by the residents to go away. Some would uproot them saying trees would robbers climb into their homes. Still others were under the misconception that trees would aid proliferation of mosquitoes and insects," he says.

The Vadodara social forestry division conservator of forests RM Patel says the change in attitude is due to the van mahotsavs and the awareness drives by NGOs.

According to him the period just before monsoon is suitable for growing more trees, but lack of adequate supply of water is hindering efforts. "This is best time to plant saplings, but in absence of water it is not possible to plant now. But the efforts by the schools, housing societies and the panchayats in various parts of the Vadodara district has helped increasing new trees," he says.

Shah says the concern for environment and the beneficial effects of having trees near homes has led many citizens to start helping them in their efforts. "At many places even without our asking them to do so, residents have started watering the trees and covered them with gunny sacks to prevent cattle from eating them," says Shah.

Tree Lovers Education and Research Foundation TLERF president Ishwar Krishikar says change in attitude is purely due to the alarming rate of de-forestation that has already taken place here. "The effort to grow more trees is a move in the right direction. But it will take many more years to revert back to Vadodara as it used to be once- a city of banyan trees. Today there are many banyan saplings on the Jail Road and other areas this is a good move," he says.

"Now that citizens have started taking an active interest in growing more trees they should now concentrate their effort to beautify the city by growing more trees that are indigenous here. Neem and Banyan trees are a must. As in Chandigarh efforts should be made here to combine different flowering trees in the same stretch of street or road so that Vadodara can be colourful too," says Krushikar.

According to him Vadodara has a better percentage of forest cover almost 10.35 of its total area, unlike Ahmedabad which has merely 1.32 per cent. "Vadodara has more greenery than Ahmedabad but compared to how it used to be once upon a time, it is still lagging behind," says Krushikar.

* Citizens in Vadodara help government and NGOs in planting more trees

* Agriculturists say that efforts should be made to grow more indigenous variety of trees like Neem and Banyan

* Also recommend a beautification drive to include more flowering trees

Voice your opinion on this story Generate printer friendly page Send this page to your friend

Gujarat in brief on May 6th 2001 Monday, May 7, 2001

Shaky Foundation

While announcing the long-awaited package of financial assistance for the four worst-affected quake-hit towns of Bhuj, Anjar, Bhachau and Rapar, apparently taking into account the "popular mood" that they not be shifted to a new location, the state government has given a clear go-by to the scientific opinion. A top-level international team of scientists led by US Earthquake Hazards co-ordinator Eugene Schweig has now told Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel that it is always advisable to move to a new location after undertaking proper micro-seismic zoning.

"They wanted the towns and villages badly destroyed to be relocated on a rocky terrain instead of the alluvial soil," a senior government official who attended the meeting said. Sentiments concerning relocating the towns and villages badly hit was quite strong immediately after the quake. Some top officials even said "popular considerations" should not be allowed to dictate objective decision making. Even as the scientific opinion remains the same, political considerations have finally prevailed.

Remembering Jay Narayan

Several months after Narmada development minister Jay Narayan Vyas was pushed out of the Cabinet, top technocrats in the Narmada project establishment have started turning nostalgic. Top engineers in the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam, even while admitting that an outburst against the CM cost him his job, say the multi-billion rupee project badly needs a man of Vyas' stature and vision who can ensure a large number of jobs are undertaken simultaneously at a time when the project needs to be completed at the earliest.

"When Vyas was around, he'd vent his ire at officials for delaying things, because of which he made several enemies in the top bureaucracy," says a senior engineer looking after canal projects work. "After he quit, we lost a man who could ensure that things were done quickly, without wasting time and little caring for the Narmada Bachao Andolan onslaught."

Another engineer added, "We have begun to lose out on the propaganda front. Now, there is none to counter Medha Patkar effectively."

Tough loan terms

The Asian Development Bank and the World Bank may have together given the first tranche of $180 million loan as 'advance' to the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA), but handing the finances is not going to be so easy for the state government given the strict rules of the game put forth by the two top financiers.

It transpires that there would be no more advances from the huge $900 million loan sanctioned by the two till the state government furnished relevant bills of expenses. "We would have to first spend money, get the works monitored by the team of experts appointed by the two financiers, and only when they are satisfied would fresh disbursements follow," said a government official.

The time between the bills advanced and the actual disbursement might be at least a month. One wonders whether such monitoring is a routine exercise or comes from a lack of trust in government spending.

Prophetic words

Though the GSMDA might have been formed only post-quake, plans to fight quakes have been undertaken by the state government ever since the cyclone struck at Kandla, killing hundreds and destroying property worth crores of rupees, three years back. A report was also prepared and submitted to the World Bank requesting finances of Rs 2,000 crore for a disaster management plan. "We prepared plans for cyclone and floods," says GSDMA chief executive officer (CEO) PK Misra, who was instrumental in carrying out the study. During the preparatory stage, Dr Misra even included some presentations on the need to include quake-related issues considering the manner in which Anjar was destroyed in 1956. "Several bureaucrats then just laughed it off, and the whole idea was dropped, as none seriously thought that a quake could be major disaster in Gujarat," Misra said.

"Who knew that a quake of such severe intensity would hit the state so soon?" he asked.

Attracting tenants, not investment

The GMSDA, has finally got a new office. Its CEO PK Misra sits in a small cosy chamber, and so do the two additional CEOs, Maheshwar Sahu and P Paneervel. The office is situated in the huge but confusing complex called Udyog Bhawan in Gandhinagar. With the new office in place, the idea to have long-term disaster management plans would soon be put into action. Interestingly, however, the authority chaired by the chief minister is housed on the fifth floor of the 11th block of Udyog Bhawan, on the premises owned by the now defunct Gujarat Industrial Investment Corporation (GIIC). During the heyday of Licence-Raj, the GIIC played a pivotal role in attracting industrial investment in Gujarat.

The GIIC seems more busy these days in allotting office space to other government-owned bodies and charging rentals for survival. The recently formed Trade Commissionerate, with MS Dagur as its chief, like the GSMDA, also has its office on the GIIC premises. Both pay handsome rentals to the GIIC. Inviting industrial investment seems last of the GIIC priorities. Its managing-director, Hasmukh Adhia, is currently more busy allotting quake-hit villages to voluntary agencies and business houses for reconstruction than organising finances for industry.

Image-conscious Hare

Minister of state for home Haren Pandya has reportedly admitted that his decision to revoke the transfers of two DCPs engaged in investigations against builders in Ahmedabad was done purely because of adverse newspaper reports.

It is quite well known that Haren Pandya is extremely conscious about maintaining a clean image in public life. And, as minister for information, he has also the job of keeping the Press happy. The transfer of the two deputy commissioners of police, BS Jebaliya and Manoj Aggrawal, who were leading investigations into house collapses had come as a surprise. There were speculations in the media that this could have been done at the instance of the builder lobby. Now, Haren Pandya could not digest that, and though the two officials were reportedly keen on their new postings, he got those cancelled.

Nothing in it for Kutch

Official statistics show baffling facts about the manner in which Kutch district is being discriminated against in the payment of compensation to those whose houses have been fully or partially damaged.

Of the total compensation paid till last month-end to the tune of Rs 185 crore, a mere 10 per cent of the compensation went to the worst-affected district. The maximum compensation went to Rajkot district, Rs 83 crore; followed by Jamnagar district, Rs 52 crore. Kutch's share was a mere Rs 18.5 crore. According to available data, as many as 1,96,202 pucca houses have been fully damaged in Gujarat. Of this, Kutch's share is 1,28,631.

Correspondingly, compensation to be paid would be Rs 1,908 crore for the whole of Gujarat, out of which Rs 1,427 crore in Kutch alone. For the fully damaged 1,68,361 huts in Gujarat, a compensation of Rs 570 crore has been fixed. Of these, for 1,07,109 huts totally damaged in Kutch, a compensation of Rs 356 crore would have to be paid.

"At this pace one does not know when the Kutchis would receive compensation," says former state finance minister Babu Meghji Shah who was the Congress candidate from Kutch in the parliamentary polls last time.

Voice your opinion on this story Generate printer friendly page Send this page to your friend

How many people know of Ramesh Parikh's past? Monday, May 7, 2001

Ahmedabad: Now almost everybody knows about Ramesh Parikh, the infamous chairman of Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank who led the bank on a blind alley to disaster. Most people also know that Parikh was a prominent figure in trade and business circles of Ahmedabad, having earlier been the president of the powerful Gujarat Chambers of Commerce and Industry. But few people know that even as president of GCCI, Ramesh Parikh had tried to hijack the GCCI's funds to his bank.

Soon after becoming president of GCCI in the early 90s, he withdrew nearly Rs 1.50 crore from a nationalised bank and put it in Madhavpura. This decision was taken without the consent of the executive committee. Significantly, the honorary secretary of the GCCI in those days was Ratanprakash Gupta, the present GCCI chairman. However, as soon as the GCCI's executive came to know about the diversion of funds it took strong exception and got the money back from Madhavpura.

Even though the GCCI is making a lot of noise about the threat to the co-operative banking sector these days, it appears that the largest business organisation in the state never had any faith in co-operative banks. Or was it only a lack of faith in Madhavpura?

Voice your opinion on this story Generate printer friendly page Send this page to your friend

Ordinance on illegal structures challenged in HC Sunday, May 6, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A writ petition challenging the ordinance seeking to regularise unauthorised constructions in six municipal corporation areas of the state, many of them built in violation of building bye-laws, has been filed in the high court here in the backdrop of the recent devastating earthquake in Gujarat.

The petitioner, Nita International, challenging the Gujarat Regularisation of Unauthorised Development Ordinance, 2001, which seeks to regularise unauthorised constructions by charging impact fees for the violation, said it was unconstitutional and ultra vires.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice D M Dharmadhikari and Justice P B Majmudar has issued notices, returnable on June 18, to the state government and others.

The promulgation of the controversial ordinance on April 28, comes in the wake of the collapse of several multi-storey structures, many of them built in violation of building bye-laws, in the January 26 quake in the state, which left at least 20,000 people dead.

Voice your opinion on this story Generate printer friendly page Send this page to your friend

Ordinance on illegal structures challenged in HC Sunday, May 6, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A writ petition challenging the ordinance seeking to regularise unauthorised constructions in six municipal corporation areas of the state, many of them built in violation of building bye-laws, has been filed in the high court here in the backdrop of the recent devastating earthquake in Gujarat.

The petitioner, Nita International, challenging the Gujarat Regularisation of Unauthorised Development Ordinance, 2001, which seeks to regularise unauthorised constructions by charging impact fees for the violation, said it was unconstitutional and ultra vires.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice D M Dharmadhikari and Justice P B Majmudar has issued notices, returnable on June 18, to the state government and others.

The promulgation of the controversial ordinance on April 28, comes in the wake of the collapse of several multi-storey structures, many of them built in violation of building bye-laws, in the January 26 quake in the state, which left at least 20,000 people dead.

Voice your opinion on this story Generate printer friendly page Send this page to your friend

Gujarat | Pharmacy SEO | Copyright 2000-2006
 A eZee Web Solutions Presentation !

E-mail - webmaster@cybervapi.com
GSM - 9825130401