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May 3, 2001 - May 3, 2001

Khadi Sangh seeks govt help to tide over crisis Thursday, May 3, 2001

RAJKOT: The Khadi Gramudyog Sangh here has urged the state government to purchase khadi from the Sangh and provide a metre of cloth to each worker employed at relief sites to protect themselves from the sun.

As many as 25 lakh workers are working at various relief sites in the state.

Sangh secretary Balwant Desai said on Wednesday that if the state government purchases 25 lakh metres of cloth it would also enable the khadi units in the state to clear their stock lying at their various outlets.

According to Desai, the total value of the stock lying with various agencies was around Rs 10 crore. He said the suggestion, if accepted, would give an impetus to the khadi units.

Desai said if the government agreed to purchase the stock lying with the Khadi board, it was ready to offer a discount.

Desai cited the example of Andhra Pradesh where the central government had agreed to give a Rs 50-crore special package for relief and rehabilitation of weavers. The Centre had agreed to buy produced goods worth Rs 1.5 crore immediately from the weavers of Sirsila.

"If this kind of a project could be successful in Andhra Pradesh why cannot it be implemented in Gujarat to revive the sagging khadi industry?" Desai asked.

He said the khadi workers were in dire straits and their condition had worsened after the quake. Most of the workers had lost their houses in the quake.

Desai said there was a glut of khadi products at the various centres forcing many units to stop production.

Desai also decried the state government's plan to float tenders for purchasing 1.25 crore metres of mill cloth for providing uniform to students of government-run primary schools.

He pointed out that all these years the state government had been purchasing the required quota of khadi cloth from the Khadi Gramudyog Sangh, which provided a livelihood for nearly 60 to 70 lakh people. The government decision to purchase mill cloth would render them jobless.

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Dumped quake victims plan long march Thursday, May 3, 2001

Anjar: People in these parts of quake-hit Gujarat feel betrayed. “We trusted the state government and it cheated us. Now there is no point talking to this government.”

They are bracing for a series of agitations against the government’s rehabilitation package that did not meet their expectations.

“One option we are exploring is to restart the “long march” from Ahmedabad to Delhi,” said Shyam Sunder, who had spearheaded a padayatra earlier this month, which was terminated after a written assurance from the state government.

Quake victims are now awaiting Group-2001’s call for an agitation. This time Group-2001, an Anjar-based organisation, will not protest alone. People from other towns will join hands as well.

“The organisation is coordinating with the Bhuj Rehabilitation Committee to work out a collective strategy,” Sunder said.

Ratnakar Dholakia, convener of Bhuj Rehabilitation Committee, who is in “touch” with Group-2001, said: “We have decided to support Group-2001. If it restarts its long march from where it was cut short, we will also join it.”

The committee has faxed a message to the state government, saying “the package is not acceptable” to them. Group-2001 has also written to the Prime Minister and home minister about their “horrible” living conditions.

Expressing displeasure over the “least attractive package”, Group-2001 plans to write to the President to apprise him of the people’s “feelings”. The group “will write a letter to the President with their blood, conveying their hurt feelings”, Sunder said.

“We will also write to the human rights commission about the kind of injustice being done and the step-motherly treatment meted out to quake victims,” he added.

To embarrass chief minister Keshubhai Patel, Group-2001 also plans to write to non-resident Gujaratis, mostly those settled in the US and who have raised money for the rehabilitation of quake victims.

“We will inform them about the package and request them not to give money to the government, who we do not trust,” Sunder said.

The state government is banking on the support of non-resident Gujaratis who recently visited Anjar with former US President Bill Clinton and promised to raise $50 million and adopt 100 villages.

Describing the package as “anti-people and pro-builders”, Jaishree Sitapura, an engineer, said what has upset the 5,000 quake victims of Anjar is that they had demanded 150, 250 and 400 sq metres of plot but the government restricted the plot size to 100, 125 and 150 sq metres though there was no scarcity of land.

Surendra Thakkar, a retired official in Bhuj, said the government requires 580 acres of land for the rehabilitation of the entire town. There were 800 acres of land available near Anjar but the government had not acquired it, he added.

“It will not do so because most of the land belongs to politicians and builders who are close to politicians,” he alleged.

Industry minister Suresh Mehta, who is also guardian minister of Kutch, underplayed Group-2001 and the Bhuj Rehabilitation Committee’s protest threat. He ruled out the possibility of revising the package, which according to him is “satisfactory”.

“Those opposing the package are either misguided or they have some vested interest,” Mehta said. Quake victims are levelling the same charges against the state government.

Since the package is “silent” about the trading community and business centres, shopkeepers do not know what to do. More than three months have already been lost, but they have no clue how long they will have to wait.

The government is yet to demarcate the land where commercial complexes can come up so that businessmen can start building shops.

“As per my calculation, the state government is actually going to spend only Rs 100 crore in Anjar to rehabilitate 5,000 families (the government has announced a Rs 1,279-crore package for the four affected towns),” Sitapura said.

Sunder and Dholakia did not rule out the possibility of people demanding statehood or Union Territory status for Kutch. The Maharaja of Kutch, Pragmal, who wants Kutch to be a separate state, is scheduled to meet Sunder.

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Workers at relief site attack team of officials Thursday, May 3, 2001

RAJKOT: An irate mob of relief workers at the Padhadhari relief site attacked a team of district civil supplies officials led by Rajkot DSO D G Khachar and also including engineers from the district panchayat, on Tuesday evening.

The team had gone to investigate allegations of malpractice at the relief site. The mob deflated the tyres of one of their vehicles.

According to information reaching here on Wednesday, while the muster showed there were 300 workers employed at the site, the actual figure was just 225.

When the discrepancy was detected, the DSO seized the muster and insisted that workers who were absent should be marked so. This angered the workers who began shouting slogans and later manhandled the officials.

The rattled officials fled the scene and went to the a nearby petrol pump from where they informed the district collector and the police about the incident.

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Workers at relief site attack team of officials Thursday, May 3, 2001

RAJKOT: An irate mob of relief workers at the Padhadhari relief site attacked a team of district civil supplies officials led by Rajkot DSO D G Khachar and also including engineers from the district panchayat, on Tuesday evening.

The team had gone to investigate allegations of malpractice at the relief site. The mob deflated the tyres of one of their vehicles.

According to information reaching here on Wednesday, while the muster showed there were 300 workers employed at the site, the actual figure was just 225.

When the discrepancy was detected, the DSO seized the muster and insisted that workers who were absent should be marked so. This angered the workers who began shouting slogans and later manhandled the officials.

The rattled officials fled the scene and went to the a nearby petrol pump from where they informed the district collector and the police about the incident.

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Workers at relief site attack team of officials Thursday, May 3, 2001

RAJKOT: An irate mob of relief workers at the Padhadhari relief site attacked a team of district civil supplies officials led by Rajkot DSO D G Khachar and also including engineers from the district panchayat, on Tuesday evening.

The team had gone to investigate allegations of malpractice at the relief site. The mob deflated the tyres of one of their vehicles.

According to information reaching here on Wednesday, while the muster showed there were 300 workers employed at the site, the actual figure was just 225.

When the discrepancy was detected, the DSO seized the muster and insisted that workers who were absent should be marked so. This angered the workers who began shouting slogans and later manhandled the officials.

The rattled officials fled the scene and went to the a nearby petrol pump from where they informed the district collector and the police about the incident.

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