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May 5, 2001 - May 5, 2001

Need for public toilets stressed Saturday, May 5, 2001

VADODARA: There are many areas in the old city where toilets dating back to the times of the Gaekwad rule still exist, however most of these are not functional anymore due to lack of maintenance by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation.

The Baroda Beautiful Council (BBC) director RO Shah has recently written to the city Mayor Bharatiben Vyas, VMC commissioner Vilasini Ramchandran and the 25 VMC women corporators regarding the absence of adequate public toilets in the city.

Shah says baring the toilets in the Vadodara railway station and near the city bus station there are no pay and use toilets for the convenience of the public. "Women are more vulnerable as for them a clean toilet facility is a must. The city has a large number of working women who need access to clean toilets but no where in the city be it in the old or new city areas or near shopping centres are there toilet facilities," says Shah.

According to him by not providing civic amenities and maintaining the ones that existed earlier the VMC is not complying with the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act. In Ahmedabad and several other cities and towns of Gujarat a non-government organisation called the National Sanitation And Environment Improvement Foundation (NASA) is collaborating with the local municipal corporations to construct public toilets and maintaining them on a no profit no loss basis, says Shah.

He said the NASA has written to the VMC for a collaboration of this kind. "The land and construction of the toilet can be taken care of by the VMC and the NASA can ensure their maintenance. In most cases it is the maintenance of toilets that the corporations are unable to manage," said Shah. He said the BBC would also volunteer its assistance.

According to NASA the lack of clean sanitation facilities have been a common cause for many diseases in the country. Lack of proper sanitation leads to water pollution, which spreads fatal diseases. The local governments and the municipal corporations have failed to provide adequate solutions to this problem for all these years.

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Former Nadiad municipal councillor dead Saturday, May 5, 2001

NADIAD: Former Nadiad municipal councillor and freedom fighter Vinubhai Narayanbhai Desai died at his residence here on Friday morning after a prolonged illness. He was 75. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Among those who attended his funeral on Friday afternoon include transport minister Bimal Shah, minister of mines Dilipbhai Patel, urban development minister Kaushikbhai Patel, Kheda Congress MP Dinsha Patel, Anand BJP MP Dipakbhai Patel, Mehemdavad BJP MLA Sundarsinh Chauhan, chairman of GSRTC Kamlesh Patel, former Nadiad MLA Dhiren Desai, several municipal councillors and journalists.

Desai was also the former trustee of Nadiad Education Society and a veteran in tobacco business.

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Insurance sanctioned for groundnut farmers Saturday, May 5, 2001

RAJKOT: The district authorities have released Rs 129 crore towards crop insurance to groundnut farmers. The payment would be made in a day or two.

The total claims were to the tune of Rs 191.88 crore. The groundnut crop had failed last year due to inadequate rainfall. Farmers in the region have been demanding payment of the crop insurance money for quiet some time now.

According to official sources Gondal taluka would be paid Rs 74.56 lakh, Kotdasanghani (Rs 74.49 lakh), Jetpur (Rs 79.13 lakh), Jamkandorna (Rs 89.81 lakh), Maliya (Rs 46 lakh), Morbi (Rs 62.58 lakh),Wankaner (Rs 36.66 lakh), Jasdan (Rs 67.15 lakh), Padhadhari (Rs 75.28 lakh), Rajkot taluka (Rs 49.96 lakh), Upleta (Rs 71.98 lakh), Dhoraji (Rs 72.94 lakh) and Lodhika Rs 77.81 lakh.

However, crop insurance amount for the cotton crop is yet to be released.

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GODHRA:::: It's Catch-22 situation for these villagers Saturday, May 5, 2001

GODHRA, Panchmahals: For the residents of about 60 villages along Mahi here, the dry river spells doom. But, villagers cannot pray for rains as the Mahi will then spill over to flood their homes.

And, as 50-year-old Dharia Rathwa hopes that the drought gets over soon, anxiety clouds his face with the very thought of the swirling Mahi waters gushing into his village if it starts raining.

"We are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Heavy rains will lead to inundation of our villages and cause untold miseries for us. It happened two years ago when we lost a lot of property and our cattle got carried by the water," says Rathwa.

"However, the drought, for the second consecutive year this time has left us high and dry. The river has run and dry and so are our water sources," he adds.

Punjiben of Dhari village has just returned from a relief site after a hard days work digging a pond. But, mention rains and wrinkles furrow her brow.

The same predicament has Telia Rathwa of Sudara village in a fix. The drought and scarcity of fodder has left him at his wits' end as he has to earn a living by working at the relief site as his family members walk long distances to get water from the common well filed by tankers. He has also worries of how to protect his mud hut if the Mahi swells and the Wanakbori cannot hold the water.

"These villagers need to be rehabilitated elsewhere. Every monsoon, the Wanakbori dam overflows, flooding their villages as they are situated on low-lying land. If the government could rehabilitate villagers displaced by the Kadana dam to places like Kaliavav and Chhabanpur, why cant the villagers living near Wanakbori be given a similar deal ?" asks Congress MLA from Godhra Rajendrasinh Patel.

Patel believes the government has never planned for Panchmahals. "Though industries like General Motors have come to Halol, they have hardly generated employment for the locals. And, political will has been lacking. While the Railway Board sanctioned a Rs 90 crore rail coach factory to be built in Panchmahals district, it was never allowed to happen as the effort was spearheaded by Congress MP Jaideepsinghji. The board went ahead and built the factory in Karnal," says Patel.

And, as the district reels under a severe drought, relief work is affected by allegations of corruption.

"According to a recent government resolution, the administration has to provide one tent for every 30 persons at the relief work sites. The job was awarded to a private company that asked for an astronomical sum for renting tents - Rs 98 for every tent per day. And, with about three lakh relief workers in the district, we need about 10,000 tents. This means the company will have to be paid Rs 9.8 lakh every day as rent. And, if the drought goes on for about a month, the amount will run into crores," says Godhra taluka panchayat member Devesh Patel.

While the order was cancelled by the district development officer, a case has been filed by the company challenging the cancellation order.

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Man on fast admitted to hospital Saturday, May 5, 2001

VADODARA: Maruti Sudamji Maharaj, a resident of Warasia near RTO, was admitted to Sir Sayajirao General Hospital here on Thursday, three days after he undertook a fast unto death to protest against the apathetic attitude of the VMC towards the civic problems faced by residents here.

Maruti had undertook a fast unto death on Tuesday to protest against large-scale erosion of drainage pipelines in Warasia colony which led to contamination of drinking water. After his condition deteriorated on Thursday, Maruti was brought to SSG Hospital. He said despite his failing health, none of the government officials had come to meet him or assure him that they would take action to correct the situation and help sort out the civic problems.

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