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May 3, 2001 - May 3, 2001

HC grants bail to builder on basis of undertaking Thursday, May 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Builder Narendra S Patel has been granted bail by the Gujarat High Court after he filed an undertaking that he will re-construct all the four collapsed flats at his own cost before February 2002, and will not ask the occupants for any contributions.

The builder has also assured that he will pay Rs 75,000 to the legal heirs of deceased Deval Ajit Dattatreya who died after the collapse of the building, and also undertook to pay Rs 5,000 per month to each occupant if there was any delay in handing over the flat.

Justice H K Rathod, while clearing the bail application, however, placed numerous conditions which include submission of Patel's passport, presenting himself at the Navrangpura police station once a month and not pressurise witnesses or complainants.

Advocates R M Vin appeared for the petitioner, and government pleader Arun Oza and advocate S K Patel appeared for the state.

The court observed that it passed this order considering the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, as well as considering the undertaking of the petitioner, and the undertaking to make the payment to the victims. The court said, therefore this order may not be treated as a precedent in other similar cases.

The court made it clear that the undertaking will not come in the way of proceedings arising from the complaint filed in the Navrangpura police station. It was also laid down that the undertaking will not amount to an admission of the petitioner in respect of criminal liability, which will be obviously required to be faced by the petitioners in respect of the offence registered against him.

Government pleader Arun Oza verified the statement made by the petitioner in the draft undertaking, and opined that the present petitioner had taken sufficient care of the interest of the members as well as the persons who died in the incident.

The FIR filed by the police against the builder and three other unnamed persons alleged that the petitioner was responsible as the 'builder' for defective construction of the building 'Setu Apartments' which was made contrary to the rules and regulations under the Ownership Act by using sub-standard materials knowingly and wilfully that the construction was likely to collapse in damage to life and property on the fateful day.

A portion of the Setu Apartments got partially damaged resulting in partial collapse of four flats, one over the other, and the falling debris caused the death of one person named Deval who was a guest in the flat owned and occupied by one Madhukar Shantilal in flat no 202.

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Former PM meets quake-hit children in Rapar Thursday, May 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Former prime minister Chandrashekhar on Tuesday inaugurated the SOS Children's Village at Rafral hospital premises in Rapar. The children's village is being set up by Child Relief and Care Centre in Bhachau as part of SOS Children's Villages of India. Chandrashekhar donated Rs 1,000 as token support for the rehabilitation of quake-hit orphaned children of Gujarat.

The former prime minister, accompanied by commissioner (relief) A K Sharma and other senior officials of local administration, met 10 adopted children from four quake-affected villages of Kutch.

The former PM also visited Gayatri (new home for orphaned children) and spoke with the children and SOS mothers.

"SOS Children's Village of India has been working in Kutch since January 28 and has established SOS Balgram at Bhachau with 35 orphan and other needy children. We are also bringing in more orphaned children from Anjar and Bhuj and are running 20 child relief centres with mid-day meals. We are taking care of at least 2,000 children in Kutch," said Diwakar Pande of SOS Children's Villages of India.

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Former PM meets quake-hit children in Rapar Thursday, May 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Former prime minister Chandrashekhar on Tuesday inaugurated the SOS Children's Village at Rafral hospital premises in Rapar. The children's village is being set up by Child Relief and Care Centre in Bhachau as part of SOS Children's Villages of India. Chandrashekhar donated Rs 1,000 as token support for the rehabilitation of quake-hit orphaned children of Gujarat.

The former prime minister, accompanied by commissioner (relief) A K Sharma and other senior officials of local administration, met 10 adopted children from four quake-affected villages of Kutch.

The former PM also visited Gayatri (new home for orphaned children) and spoke with the children and SOS mothers.

"SOS Children's Village of India has been working in Kutch since January 28 and has established SOS Balgram at Bhachau with 35 orphan and other needy children. We are also bringing in more orphaned children from Anjar and Bhuj and are running 20 child relief centres with mid-day meals. We are taking care of at least 2,000 children in Kutch," said Diwakar Pande of SOS Children's Villages of India.

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Gandhians protest against providing pension to MLAs Thursday, May 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Eighty seven-year-old Gandhian and former MLA Mahendra Desai sits under a tree just outside the Sabarmati Ashram. Braving the extreme heat, dust and roaring buses, zooming vehicles, Desai, much like his mentor and idol - the Mahatma - launches an indefinite hunger strike on May 1 - Happy Birthday Gujarat...

Wishing Gujarat "the very best" on its 41st birthday, the octogenarian chooses the Gandhian mode - Satyagrah - to protest against a Bill pending since 1987, that proposes to give pension to all MLAs. It was Desai's agitations and hunger strike that had stalled the implementation of the Bill way back in 1987 and now that the government is showing signs of reimplementing the Bill, the 87-year-old Gandhian has revitalised his years'-old protest.

"A person who has 30 years or more period of employment with the government or other private institutions may be entitled to pension but why for these so-called public representatives who serve five years' term and barely attend the 200 days of office," says Desai.

Desai's agitation follows a notice issued by Gujarat High Court to the government asking why a Bill (regarding the pension) after having been passed is yet to be implemented. The high court's notice is in context with a petition filed by a former MLA for the implementation of the pension Bill.

"Earlier too the state government had made several attempts to approach me and get my approval, failing which the Bill had been kept at bay. But, since a fresh Bill cancelling the proposal of pension for former MLAs is required to nullify the 1987 Bill, the state government may have got the excuse it was looking for to implement this Bill," said Desai while speaking about the reason behind his move to restart an agitation that has been dormant for more than a decade now.

"In 1987, the state government had mooted this idea. They had even presented a Bill in state assembly to this effect. Needless to say that the Bill was passed within half-an-hour of it being tabled with practically no opposition," recalls Desai, who then had stalled the process single-handedly by going on a hunger-strike that lasted for 23 days.

Desai feels that such benefits like lifetime pension for a five-year term devoted to serving the people draws in "unwanted and anti-social elements" who bring a bad name to public representatives.

"Nowadays the moneyed and those with muscle power don the public representatives' garb and the ones in office are busy filling up personal coffers or even using the MLA status to further their private commercial endeavours. MLAs are meant to look after needs of the people and not use the post to mint money and draw in personal favours," said Desai.

On Tuesday Desai was also joined by the general secretary of Gujarat Karmachari Mahasang, G R Sayyed, along with 12 others. "Since the past six months, the state government has stopped giving allowance (on an average Rs 275 per month) to widows, women deserted by their husbands and senior citizens who are unable to eke out a living for themselves. Instead of reviving this pro-people schemes, the state government looks to appease MLAs for whom the pension (Rs 2,500) is either a status symbol or a way to show off their tryst with power," said Sayyed who along with 11 others joined Desai for a token day-long hunger strike.

Chunibhai Vaidya, another Gandhian lending his support to Desai's cause, says that money buys party tickets even for the most undeserving politicians. Vaid says, "None of the MLAs who vie for pension lead a hand-to-mouth existence. Rather they are so used to tabling proposals and turning them into law that they have forgotten about the more needy people of the state. If this money meant for MLAs' pension is diverted to the poverty-stricken masses, then I would deem it to have been put to a much better use than what is proposed by this Bill."

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Gandhians protest against providing pension to MLAs Thursday, May 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Eighty seven-year-old Gandhian and former MLA Mahendra Desai sits under a tree just outside the Sabarmati Ashram. Braving the extreme heat, dust and roaring buses, zooming vehicles, Desai, much like his mentor and idol - the Mahatma - launches an indefinite hunger strike on May 1 - Happy Birthday Gujarat...

Wishing Gujarat "the very best" on its 41st birthday, the octogenarian chooses the Gandhian mode - Satyagrah - to protest against a Bill pending since 1987, that proposes to give pension to all MLAs. It was Desai's agitations and hunger strike that had stalled the implementation of the Bill way back in 1987 and now that the government is showing signs of reimplementing the Bill, the 87-year-old Gandhian has revitalised his years'-old protest.

"A person who has 30 years or more period of employment with the government or other private institutions may be entitled to pension but why for these so-called public representatives who serve five years' term and barely attend the 200 days of office," says Desai.

Desai's agitation follows a notice issued by Gujarat High Court to the government asking why a Bill (regarding the pension) after having been passed is yet to be implemented. The high court's notice is in context with a petition filed by a former MLA for the implementation of the pension Bill.

"Earlier too the state government had made several attempts to approach me and get my approval, failing which the Bill had been kept at bay. But, since a fresh Bill cancelling the proposal of pension for former MLAs is required to nullify the 1987 Bill, the state government may have got the excuse it was looking for to implement this Bill," said Desai while speaking about the reason behind his move to restart an agitation that has been dormant for more than a decade now.

"In 1987, the state government had mooted this idea. They had even presented a Bill in state assembly to this effect. Needless to say that the Bill was passed within half-an-hour of it being tabled with practically no opposition," recalls Desai, who then had stalled the process single-handedly by going on a hunger-strike that lasted for 23 days.

Desai feels that such benefits like lifetime pension for a five-year term devoted to serving the people draws in "unwanted and anti-social elements" who bring a bad name to public representatives.

"Nowadays the moneyed and those with muscle power don the public representatives' garb and the ones in office are busy filling up personal coffers or even using the MLA status to further their private commercial endeavours. MLAs are meant to look after needs of the people and not use the post to mint money and draw in personal favours," said Desai.

On Tuesday Desai was also joined by the general secretary of Gujarat Karmachari Mahasang, G R Sayyed, along with 12 others. "Since the past six months, the state government has stopped giving allowance (on an average Rs 275 per month) to widows, women deserted by their husbands and senior citizens who are unable to eke out a living for themselves. Instead of reviving this pro-people schemes, the state government looks to appease MLAs for whom the pension (Rs 2,500) is either a status symbol or a way to show off their tryst with power," said Sayyed who along with 11 others joined Desai for a token day-long hunger strike.

Chunibhai Vaidya, another Gandhian lending his support to Desai's cause, says that money buys party tickets even for the most undeserving politicians. Vaid says, "None of the MLAs who vie for pension lead a hand-to-mouth existence. Rather they are so used to tabling proposals and turning them into law that they have forgotten about the more needy people of the state. If this money meant for MLAs' pension is diverted to the poverty-stricken masses, then I would deem it to have been put to a much better use than what is proposed by this Bill."

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