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November 17, 2001 - November 17, 2001

Gujarat villages still experiencing 100 tremors a day Saturday, November 17, 2001

By Pradeep Mallik, Indo-Asian News Service
Ahmedabad(IANS): Even ten months after a devastating earthquake killed thousands in the western Indian state of Gujarat, people in its villages are reliving the moving experience, literally so.

Several villages in Junagadh district are experiencing about 100 tremors a day, forcing hundreds of scared people in at least one village to flee their homes. Scores more have moved out of their houses and were staying in tents under the open sky.

On January 26, Gujarat experienced one of India's worst earthquakes in which 25,000 people were killed and thousands rendered homeless. The state was still trying to come to terms with that calamity.

People of Haripur village, the epicentre of the current tremors, say they can't take a chance and are either going away to live their relatives elsewhere or staying in tents.

Though the tremors are mild and no loss of life has been reported, meteorological officials have reached Haripur, some 450 km southwest of Gujarat's capital city Gandhinagar, to study the phenomenon. Haripur is said to have experienced even up to 145 shocks a day.

The most powerful of these shocks measured 3.2 on the Richter scale. "The tremors are numerous but mild in nature, most of them measuring around 2.5. We have surveyed 30 places so far and there has been no casualty. There has been damage to some constructions though," senior seismologist Ajay Kumar told IANS on telephone from Sasan, about 22 km from Haripur where meteorological officials were camping.

According to Haripur village head Ramnikbhai Narayanbhai, a large number of people of the village have moved out and gone to live with their relatives elsewhere. The village has a population of about 2000 people.

"We hear these loud sounds when the earth rumbles, as if there have been explosions. And with the number of shocks being more than 75 on any given day, the people are really scared," said Ramnikbhai.

According to Ramnikbhai, the tremors were first experienced in Haripur alone. "Slowly, the nearby villages of Sangdra, Chikhali and a few others also started feeling the rumblings underground. Tuesday we experienced 94 shocks and Wednesday people from Sasan too reported experiencing them," he said.

Together these villages have a population of about 12,000.

The meteorological surveys indicate that the rumblings are taking place at focal depth of about two km. "The area has some soft stones below which is limestone. The explosion-like sound is caused due to release of gas following build-up of heat inside the earth," Kumar said.

Similar shocks were experienced in Bhavnagar and Khandva in Madhya Pradesh in 1999, he pointed out.

Nine small teams of doctors have already been stationed at the primary health centres at Haripur and its neighbouring villages.

At least four medical teams have been kept ready at medical colleges in the neighbouring districts of Jamnagar, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad, according to Health Minister Ashok Bhatt.

News Source : Indo-Asian News Service


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State speeds up work on Narmada dam Saturday, November 17, 2001

By Ashraf Sayed, Indo-Asian News Service
Gandhinagar(IANS): Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is rushing to complete a controversial interstate dam on the river Narmada amid speculation that he might call for mid-term polls.

Earlier this week, Modi met his counterpart from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, in national capital New Delhi and persuaded him to take urgent measures to rehabilitate people displaced by the project when the dam height is raised to its 110-metre limit.

Aides of Modi described the talks as "highly successful." In the parleys, Modi conceded Madhya Pradesh's demand for Rs.2.39 billion as cash compensation for resettlement of people ousted by the project, if they do not accept land for the submerged areas.

Relief for people affected by the dam has raked major conflict between the government and environmentalists, delaying the Narmada project for six years. Touted as "the lifeline of Gujarat," work on the multibillion-rupee dam resumed last year after a Supreme Court order.

Singh also showed his keenness to complete the project and said he would take up the relief issue at the next cabinet meeting to be held after the festival of lights, Diwali, on November 14.

But sources close to Modi said work on the dam was being delayed by Madhya Pradesh dragging its feet in announcing relief measures. They also said the time loss could prevent the raising of the dam height from the present 95 metres to 100 metres by the beginning of January next year as directed by the court.

Official sources in the Gujarat government added the Narmada project could only be completed by 2004-05 due to lack of rehabilitation measures by Madhya Pradesh government.

They said that Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the other states involved in the dam, owed around Rs.16 billion in costs for the project, straining Gujarat's resources.

The meeting of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), scheduled for November 8, was postponed to November 20. The meeting would formalise the decisions of Modi and Singh.

News Source : Indo-Asian News Service


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Quake scars yet to heal in Bhuj Saturday, November 17, 2001

BY Chetan Chauhan, for Hindustan Times
(Bhuj)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Huge cracks in house walls have been filled with concrete. But the harsh memories left by the January 26 earthquake still haunt Bhuj residents. The residents are striving to rebuild their lives but the district administration's indecisiveness to come up with a concrete rehabilitation plan is obstructing their way.
In these nine months, the locals have been hurt more by the official apathy than what the earthquake did. As the district administration is still to come out with a plan to re-build the city.

This is obvious from a large number of occupied houses — on the highway from Bhuj to Khandla—having got massive repairs. "Neither can we demolish our damaged houses nor arrangement has been made for alternate shelter. We have no option but to live in these partially-damaged houses. Repairs have been done but we cannot say whether the building will be able to withstand any further earthquake," said a Madhu Sanghvi, a shopowner in Wanwadi area.

All tall claims of rehabilitating the victims by the administration have fallen flat, added Jeep Bah, another shopkeeper.

No plan has been finalised though district officials say the process is in its final stages. "Three times survey has been done and city plan has been prepared. But it was scrapped for reasons not known to us," Sanghvi said. He wants to re-build his house and says that he has not received the compensation so far. "Every time I go to the collector office, a new document is demanded by the babus.”

There are many like him in Bhuj for whom life is not the same anymore. "If we are still alive after 920 tremors, I think God wants us to live. So, it does not matter whether we reside in a newly-constructed house or the old one with cracks," contended Niranjan Bhai, another shopkeeper.

News Source : Hindustan Times


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Quake scars yet to heal in Bhuj Saturday, November 17, 2001

BY Chetan Chauhan, for Hindustan Times
(Bhuj)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Huge cracks in house walls have been filled with concrete. But the harsh memories left by the January 26 earthquake still haunt Bhuj residents. The residents are striving to rebuild their lives but the district administration's indecisiveness to come up with a concrete rehabilitation plan is obstructing their way.
In these nine months, the locals have been hurt more by the official apathy than what the earthquake did. As the district administration is still to come out with a plan to re-build the city.

This is obvious from a large number of occupied houses — on the highway from Bhuj to Khandla—having got massive repairs. "Neither can we demolish our damaged houses nor arrangement has been made for alternate shelter. We have no option but to live in these partially-damaged houses. Repairs have been done but we cannot say whether the building will be able to withstand any further earthquake," said a Madhu Sanghvi, a shopowner in Wanwadi area.

All tall claims of rehabilitating the victims by the administration have fallen flat, added Jeep Bah, another shopkeeper.

No plan has been finalised though district officials say the process is in its final stages. "Three times survey has been done and city plan has been prepared. But it was scrapped for reasons not known to us," Sanghvi said. He wants to re-build his house and says that he has not received the compensation so far. "Every time I go to the collector office, a new document is demanded by the babus.”

There are many like him in Bhuj for whom life is not the same anymore. "If we are still alive after 920 tremors, I think God wants us to live. So, it does not matter whether we reside in a newly-constructed house or the old one with cracks," contended Niranjan Bhai, another shopkeeper.

News Source : Hindustan Times


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Fire engulfs firecracker shops at Delhi Darwaja Saturday, November 17, 2001

Source - AsianAge
Ahmedabad: At least eight stalls selling crackers were reduced to cinders near Delhi Darwaja after a fire engulfed them wrecking havoc to the festive mood on the eve of the New Year Day.

About 20 fire fighters were immediately rushed to the spot to douse the fire and exercise was on when the last report came in at 9 pm. The police team, and police commissioner P.C. Pande, rushed to the spot to monitor the situation. The fire is believed to have been sparked off at around 8.10 pm.

No death was reported from official sources but unconfirmed sources reported that several have received burn injuries due to the fire from the explosive crackers. The location of the stalls, all selling crackers for the festival of light, built close to each other, added fuel to the situation. Sources said it was just one shop that initially caught fire but the proximity of the other shops soon led to the spread of fire to other shops.

The situation became panicky as the news of the fire spread in the area and rumourmongers put the number of shops burnt to 25, which was denied by officials. Despite rigid norms set by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for acquiring licenses for sale of crackers the fire has proved that they were given a go by.

News Source : The AsianAge [ The coolest newspaper for city ]


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