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May 3, 2001 - May 4, 2001

GEB achieves record plant load factor Friday, May 4, 2001

VADODARA: Use of imported coal and good quality of lignite and availability of adequate water at the seven thermal power stations in the state have enabled the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) to achieve a plant load factor (PLF) of 67.85 per cent during the year 2000-2001, a record in its 41-year-old history.

All the seven power stations generated 2,56,416 lakh units during the year as against 2,41,395 lakh units during 1999-2000, GEB chairman Nalin Bhatt told 'The Times of India'.

Use of imported coal at the thermal station at Wanakbori in central Gujarat, which has a total installed capacity of 1,470 MW, achieved 81.17 per cent PLF. This station, the largest coal-based thermal power station in the state, began using imported coal from September last year. The issues related to environment, coal mill and ash disposal that cropped up at this station were also sorted out.

The Ukai thermal power station, with a total installed capacity of 860 MW in south Gujarat, generated 53,800 lakh units and achieved a PLF of 72.25 per cent. Use of imported coal also played an important role in achieving this record performance at Ukai.

Despite the problem of water shortage, the 660 MW thermal station at Gandhinagar achieved a PLF of 61.35 per cent and it generated 46,755.53 lakh units.

Bhatt informed that the GEB had to dig 29 bores for meeting the water requirements of all the thermal units located in Gandhinagar.

The Sikka thermal station recorded 52.20 per cent PLF because of some technical problem in the unit. The station generated 10,973.69 lakh units.

The poor quality of lignite from the GMDC-owned mines affected the PLF at the lignite power station at Panandhro in Kutch, which recorded a PLF of 51.27 per cent. This station generated 9656.10 lakh units after Bhatt intervened and ensured supply of good quality lignite.

Due to damages to machinery, the gas-based thermal station at Dhuvaran in central Gujarat could not generate much power and recorded a PLF of 50.25 per cent.

Generation of power at the gas-based Utran power house, was badly affected due to non-availability of adequate quantity of gas, Bhatt said.

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Warasia residents go on hunger strike Friday, May 4, 2001

VADODARA: Enraged at the Vadodara Municipal Corporation's (VMC) indifference towards the civic problems in the area, residents have chosen a unique way to protest. While one is on an indefinite hunger strike, other residents would join him in turns to lodge their protest.

Residents say they will continue with the strike as long as the VMC refuses to look into their problem of overflowing gutters due to leakage and the accumulation of dirty water in storm water drains in Warasia which has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

While a localite, Maruti Maharaj, has started his indefinite hunger strike from Tuesday, five to six residents will join him in turns every day. "We will adopt Gandhiji's method of non-violence to solve the problem," said Maruti Maharaj.

Residents said requests to the city mayor and the municipal commissioner on the issue have fallen on deaf ears. They allege that this neglect has resulted in health-related problems in the area.

"The VMC had installed new drainage pipeline only five years ago in the area. Once the pipeline was installed they didn't care to maintain or repair it. It's been more than six months since we've been complaining, but the VMC is showing no interest in repairing the drainage system," said Akhil Bharatiya Sindhi Samaj (Vadodara branch) youth wing president Pradeep Lekhrajani.

Residents allege that VMC has always refused to pay heed to their demands.

"VMC has neglected Warasia. Earlier during Cheti Chand celebrations they hurt our feelings by refusing to fill the Sindu Sagar talav with water for our religious activities. Now, though we have complained to the VMC about the nuisance of overflowing gutters and accumulated garbage on the 'kaans', they have failed to take any action. On the contrary they have sent notices to residents who complained," said Maruti Maharaj.

"The VMC regularly comes to collect taxes from us, but they never pay any heed to our woes. Due to overflowing and accumulated garbage, the whole area wears a dirty look and it stinks. Besides, the 'kaas' has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There have been several cases of malaria and other health-related problems. Owing to VMC's lethargic attitude nearly 15 to 20 huts have come up in the 'kaas'," says a resident Rajesh Chandwani.

In addition, overflowing gutters often contaminates drinking water in the VMC pipeline. "Everyday we get saline water. We have to boil water before use. But now the water is dirty and sometimes it stinks, making it almost impossible for us to drink this water. Our complaints and requests have fallen on deaf ears," added Lekhrajani.

"I am not aware of it. If the problems of the people here is genuine then the VMC officials need to take immediate action," said deputy mayor Shailesh Mehta.

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Chhabildas Mehta resigns from Congress Party Friday, May 4, 2001

Ahmedabad: Veteran Congress leader and former Gujarat chief minister Chhabildas Mehta Thursday resigned from the primary membership of the party.
Mehta faxed his resignation letter to party president Sonia Gandhi.

Mehta said, "I do not want to say much about the approach of the Congress party, but due to the Centre's policy of globalisation and liberalisation, lakhs of small and medium units were forced to close down and crores of people have become unemployed."

Mehta said there was no proper forum to hear the grievances of the public at large.

There were so many factions and each was working according to its whims and fancies, he added.

"Due to this, the Congress was thrown out from power and now the party cannot come to power on its own in future," he said.

"Over and above, majority of the parties are against Sonia Gandhi," his statement said.

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Gujarat govt learns little from quake Thursday, May 3, 2001

Gandhi Nagar, May 2: The Gujarat government, which till now had been waxing eloquent over the arrests of builders responsible for constructions which gave away in the January 26 earthquake, has hurriedly promulgated a fresh ordinance to legalise all unauthorised constructions in the six municipal corporation areas in the state after charging fees for it.

This ordinance, which comes into effect following the expiry of an earlier one promulgated a few months before the killer earthquake shook Gujarat, has nothing new except that builders of illegal constructions would now have to provide a certificate of stability of their building. Minister of State for Urban Development Parmanand Khattar pats himself saying: ‘‘The buildings where the builders fail to provide such certificates will not be legalised.’’

While the first ordinance had come as a pre-emption to Gujarat High Court order to demolish the flashy commercial complexes on Ahmedabad’s upmarket CG Road area, the only notable change in this one - issued after the quake - is the requirement of the stability certificate. Interestingly, there is no provision in the new ordinance to tackle the corruption that has cut through all the laws in the state and has been responsible for a large number of unauthorised structures. Except for the bold claims of the state government, there is no guarantee that the certificates won’t be doctored, and the municipal corporations and the urban development authorities would cross-check the veracity of the certificates or the stability of the buildings.

It isn’t without reason that despite a plethora of laws, so many buildings in Ahmedabad and Kutch have collapsed in the quake, bringing to the fore the ugly builder-politician nexus prospering in the state. Scores and scores of files of buildings are missing from the offices of the corporations and the urban development authorities and even the names of architects and engineers in many buildings which collapsed in Ahmedabad are surprisingly unknown. In the quake-ravaged Anjar town, the state government is offering 100 and 150 metre plots to the people for reconstructing their homes despite much more land available there. ‘‘The government is deliberately giving small plots to the people and will ultimately force the people to go into the trap of the waiting builder lobby,’’ says a senior minister, wishing anonymity.

The state government had been deliberating what to do with the impact fee ordinance after it drew considerable flak post-quake for its nexus with the builder lobby, and was expected to dump the idea of regularising the misdeeds. But that it has not done so only reflects how deep the nexus is.

Just one instance of what the state government would have regularised is the Mansi Complex in Ahmedabad’s Vastrapur area. Here, one Hitendra Barot - brother of NRI Dilip Barot and at the helm of Gujarat government’s prestigious Infocity Project, had built a huge ‘‘bath-tub’’ without permission.

This tub, essentially a swimming pool, was said to be the reason for the building’s collapse. Had the quake not struck, this and many such buildings would have become legal just in the exchange for some impact fees.

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Gujarat govt learns little from quake Thursday, May 3, 2001

Gandhi Nagar, May 2: The Gujarat government, which till now had been waxing eloquent over the arrests of builders responsible for constructions which gave away in the January 26 earthquake, has hurriedly promulgated a fresh ordinance to legalise all unauthorised constructions in the six municipal corporation areas in the state after charging fees for it.

This ordinance, which comes into effect following the expiry of an earlier one promulgated a few months before the killer earthquake shook Gujarat, has nothing new except that builders of illegal constructions would now have to provide a certificate of stability of their building. Minister of State for Urban Development Parmanand Khattar pats himself saying: ‘‘The buildings where the builders fail to provide such certificates will not be legalised.’’

While the first ordinance had come as a pre-emption to Gujarat High Court order to demolish the flashy commercial complexes on Ahmedabad’s upmarket CG Road area, the only notable change in this one - issued after the quake - is the requirement of the stability certificate. Interestingly, there is no provision in the new ordinance to tackle the corruption that has cut through all the laws in the state and has been responsible for a large number of unauthorised structures. Except for the bold claims of the state government, there is no guarantee that the certificates won’t be doctored, and the municipal corporations and the urban development authorities would cross-check the veracity of the certificates or the stability of the buildings.

It isn’t without reason that despite a plethora of laws, so many buildings in Ahmedabad and Kutch have collapsed in the quake, bringing to the fore the ugly builder-politician nexus prospering in the state. Scores and scores of files of buildings are missing from the offices of the corporations and the urban development authorities and even the names of architects and engineers in many buildings which collapsed in Ahmedabad are surprisingly unknown. In the quake-ravaged Anjar town, the state government is offering 100 and 150 metre plots to the people for reconstructing their homes despite much more land available there. ‘‘The government is deliberately giving small plots to the people and will ultimately force the people to go into the trap of the waiting builder lobby,’’ says a senior minister, wishing anonymity.

The state government had been deliberating what to do with the impact fee ordinance after it drew considerable flak post-quake for its nexus with the builder lobby, and was expected to dump the idea of regularising the misdeeds. But that it has not done so only reflects how deep the nexus is.

Just one instance of what the state government would have regularised is the Mansi Complex in Ahmedabad’s Vastrapur area. Here, one Hitendra Barot - brother of NRI Dilip Barot and at the helm of Gujarat government’s prestigious Infocity Project, had built a huge ‘‘bath-tub’’ without permission.

This tub, essentially a swimming pool, was said to be the reason for the building’s collapse. Had the quake not struck, this and many such buildings would have become legal just in the exchange for some impact fees.

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