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May 4, 2001 - May 4, 2001

Narmada water will expose chinks in RMC's armour Friday, May 4, 2001

RAJKOT: Senior health department officials of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation have admitted that the civic body is ill-equipped to handle the large quantity of water that would reach the city through the proposed Narmada canal via Maliya.

In a startling revelation, the officials also confessed that water from the Wankaner bore is being supplied after chlorination and is not filtered.

There is no facility to filter the water and the civic body has not made any budgetary allocation for setting up a water purification plant, according to them.

The officials point out that that the water supply board has made arrangements to bring the Narmada waters through the Maliya canal and the foundation stone has been laid for the project.

According to plans, the city is poised to receive 12 crore litres out of the 15 crore litres of water which would flow from the canal to Rajkot via Tankara. The rest of the water would be allowed to flow towards Gondal.

However, the three filtration plants in the city has the capacity to purify just 7.75 crore litres of water.

The filtration plants at the Aji dam site and Nyari have the capacity to purify 70 lakh gallons of water each, while the Ghanteshwar plant can handle 35 lakh gallons of water.

The Ribda plant has the highest filtration capacity, but the problem is that it can filter water only if it flows in from the Bhadar dam side. The Narmada waters would be coming from Gavridad, which is on the opposite side.

Besides the issue of supplying filtered water there is also the problem of storing the water. The combined storage capacity of all overhead water tanks in the city is around 100 lakh gallons. The new overhead tank being constructed on Ring Road has a capacity of five to six lakh gallons while the approximate demand from the newly-merged areas is for around 40 lakh gallons of water.

Given the rate at which the newly-merged areas of Rajkot are expanding, they would need around 100 lakh gallons of filtered water within a short span of time and the RMC has no plans for that.

The civic body would have to spent crores of rupees to construct new sumps, lay bigger lines and set up filtration plants. However, no financial provisions have been made for these works.

The water supply board has already started a survey of the site to lay the water pipeline from Gavridad to the Aji dam site and then on to the Gondal bypass. However the question is can the Aji filtration plant handle such a large quantum of water?

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Octroi abolition may render 3,000 daily wagers jobless Friday, May 4, 2001

RAJKOT: As many as 3,000 daily wagers from the 23 nagarpalikas in Saurashtra region would be rendered jobless with the abolition of octroi from the nagarpalikas and panchayats.

Gujarat Rajya Nagarpalika Karmachari Mahamandal secretary Shirish Dave said these daily wage earners and octroi contractors, who used to help in the collection of octroi at the posts, would now be without work.

He told TOINS the mahamandal had urged the state government to help solve the unemployment issue, failing which the daily wagers would be forced to launch an agitation.

Some nagarpalikas and panchaytas have already begun showing them the door. According to figures released by Dave, the decision had been taken to relieve the workers of their jobs. The workers includes 292 from Veraval Patan, 134 from Una, 144 at Surendranagar, 141 at Mandvi, 166 at Bhuj, 195 at Gandhidham, 378 at Amreli, 74 at Dhrol and 99 in Manavadar.

It was also pointed out that the salary grant for these workers would cease from May itself which would leave the nagarpalikas without funds to pay them. Another issue which was worrying the local bodies was how and where they could accommodate the octroi department staff in the changed situation.

Dave said these questions were tricky and the staff of the octroi department were in a quandary. Dave said the problem needed to be addressed, particularly the vital issue of finances of local bodies.

Meanwhile, Khambhaliya Chamber of Commerce president Parimal Nathwani has hailed the state government decision to abolish octroi. Nathwani said some contractors were indeed harassing traders and people.

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Octroi abolition may render 3,000 daily wagers jobless Friday, May 4, 2001

RAJKOT: As many as 3,000 daily wagers from the 23 nagarpalikas in Saurashtra region would be rendered jobless with the abolition of octroi from the nagarpalikas and panchayats.

Gujarat Rajya Nagarpalika Karmachari Mahamandal secretary Shirish Dave said these daily wage earners and octroi contractors, who used to help in the collection of octroi at the posts, would now be without work.

He told TOINS the mahamandal had urged the state government to help solve the unemployment issue, failing which the daily wagers would be forced to launch an agitation.

Some nagarpalikas and panchaytas have already begun showing them the door. According to figures released by Dave, the decision had been taken to relieve the workers of their jobs. The workers includes 292 from Veraval Patan, 134 from Una, 144 at Surendranagar, 141 at Mandvi, 166 at Bhuj, 195 at Gandhidham, 378 at Amreli, 74 at Dhrol and 99 in Manavadar.

It was also pointed out that the salary grant for these workers would cease from May itself which would leave the nagarpalikas without funds to pay them. Another issue which was worrying the local bodies was how and where they could accommodate the octroi department staff in the changed situation.

Dave said these questions were tricky and the staff of the octroi department were in a quandary. Dave said the problem needed to be addressed, particularly the vital issue of finances of local bodies.

Meanwhile, Khambhaliya Chamber of Commerce president Parimal Nathwani has hailed the state government decision to abolish octroi. Nathwani said some contractors were indeed harassing traders and people.

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Keshod airport faces closure due to lack of traffic Friday, May 4, 2001

RAJKOT/AHMEDABAD: The Airport Authority of India (AAI), citing lack of traffic on the Mumbai-Keshod sector, is planning to close down Keshod airport in Junagadh district.

The decision would be keeping in view the fact that the is airport not attracting any revenue, following which the payment of staff and maintenance of the airport has become an expensive proposition.

On the one hand there has been no revenue for the last six months with not even a single flight landing, on the other the AAI is having to shell out money to maintain a 30-staff station. This apart from the cost required in the maintenance of the airport premises, runways and equipment.

The AAI has also identified three more airports which are likely to face the axe due to lack of passenger traffic - Deesa, Gandhidham and Surat. Deesa is one airport where the only mode of earning revenue is by annual auctioning of grass which grows in the premises of the airport.

The Gandhidham airport also is not frequented by any scheduled flights, due to which revenue earning is zero. To top it all, the existing airport has suffered extensive damage during the recent earthquake. "Amid no revenue, it would be difficult to get the airport repaired," said an AAI official associated with operations.

Besides, the AAI has not been very keen on operating even the Surat airport, but had to keep the airport going due to political pressure. "The state was trying to force it on us, but the AAI was not interested," said the AAI official.

As far as Keshod airport is concerned, the last scheduled flight it received was six months ago when Jet Airways landed its last 60-seater flight. "Even when the bi-weekly JA flights were operational, the amount raised in revenue was just in thousand, where as amount spent on staff and security salary and maintenance ran into lakhs every year," the AAI official asserted.

Even the passenger density in a month sometimes never reached double figures, said the AAI official. Apart from Jet Airways, Gujarat Airways and Indian Airlines also used to operate from Keshod, but with the drop in traffic they too gradually closed shop. Of course, the only regular visitor to the airport had been home minister L K Advani who used it during his trips to Kutch.

Keshod is one of the oldest airports of Gujarat, and was set up by the Nawab of Junagadh. Considering its strategic location in the past, it had been decided to maintain the airport even if it did not generate revenue.

And adding to AAI's woes is the expense incurred on maintaining the 60-strong Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which is in-charge of the airport security. To meet their expenses, each passenger has to cough up Rs 75 as security surcharge.

With the airport almost non-functional, the infrastructure facilities are deteriorating due to non-utility. Flying on the route was an expensive proposition for the passengers too.

A leading travel agent of Rajkot, Devendra Shah, said the fare structure from Keshod was unrealistic. The passengers were asked to shell out one-and-a-half times the Rajkot-Mumbai fare, which came to Rs 2,440 plus the Rs 75 security surcharge. As a result, passengers preferred to take the flight from Rajkot which is 144 km away.

The closure, however, would not have any immediate effect in the state. Of course the Gujarat Tourism might have to spend a lot on the infrastructure once it goes ahead to implement its ambitious tourism plan involving short air-trips to its various tourist spots.

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Keshod airport faces closure due to lack of traffic Friday, May 4, 2001

RAJKOT/AHMEDABAD: The Airport Authority of India (AAI), citing lack of traffic on the Mumbai-Keshod sector, is planning to close down Keshod airport in Junagadh district.

The decision would be keeping in view the fact that the is airport not attracting any revenue, following which the payment of staff and maintenance of the airport has become an expensive proposition.

On the one hand there has been no revenue for the last six months with not even a single flight landing, on the other the AAI is having to shell out money to maintain a 30-staff station. This apart from the cost required in the maintenance of the airport premises, runways and equipment.

The AAI has also identified three more airports which are likely to face the axe due to lack of passenger traffic - Deesa, Gandhidham and Surat. Deesa is one airport where the only mode of earning revenue is by annual auctioning of grass which grows in the premises of the airport.

The Gandhidham airport also is not frequented by any scheduled flights, due to which revenue earning is zero. To top it all, the existing airport has suffered extensive damage during the recent earthquake. "Amid no revenue, it would be difficult to get the airport repaired," said an AAI official associated with operations.

Besides, the AAI has not been very keen on operating even the Surat airport, but had to keep the airport going due to political pressure. "The state was trying to force it on us, but the AAI was not interested," said the AAI official.

As far as Keshod airport is concerned, the last scheduled flight it received was six months ago when Jet Airways landed its last 60-seater flight. "Even when the bi-weekly JA flights were operational, the amount raised in revenue was just in thousand, where as amount spent on staff and security salary and maintenance ran into lakhs every year," the AAI official asserted.

Even the passenger density in a month sometimes never reached double figures, said the AAI official. Apart from Jet Airways, Gujarat Airways and Indian Airlines also used to operate from Keshod, but with the drop in traffic they too gradually closed shop. Of course, the only regular visitor to the airport had been home minister L K Advani who used it during his trips to Kutch.

Keshod is one of the oldest airports of Gujarat, and was set up by the Nawab of Junagadh. Considering its strategic location in the past, it had been decided to maintain the airport even if it did not generate revenue.

And adding to AAI's woes is the expense incurred on maintaining the 60-strong Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which is in-charge of the airport security. To meet their expenses, each passenger has to cough up Rs 75 as security surcharge.

With the airport almost non-functional, the infrastructure facilities are deteriorating due to non-utility. Flying on the route was an expensive proposition for the passengers too.

A leading travel agent of Rajkot, Devendra Shah, said the fare structure from Keshod was unrealistic. The passengers were asked to shell out one-and-a-half times the Rajkot-Mumbai fare, which came to Rs 2,440 plus the Rs 75 security surcharge. As a result, passengers preferred to take the flight from Rajkot which is 144 km away.

The closure, however, would not have any immediate effect in the state. Of course the Gujarat Tourism might have to spend a lot on the infrastructure once it goes ahead to implement its ambitious tourism plan involving short air-trips to its various tourist spots.

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