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April 28, 2001 - April 28, 2001

Promotion through CAS to begin from May Saturday, April 28, 2001

VADODARA: The Baroda University Teachers' Association has been successful in persuading MS University to start the process of promoting teachers from lecturer to senior lecturer grade under the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS). The process will start from May 15 and is likely to be completed by May-end, BUTA general secretary RC Patel said.

"We have also convinced the University that for teachers appointed before September 7, 1998, the orientation programme conducted by our varsity would be adequate for giving senior scale. As for those who have joined after September 7, 1998 the mater is under active consideration", Patel said. He added that the BUTA has also been able to get the MSU pay 20 per cent arrears in almost all faculties.

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FIL controversy takes another turn Saturday, April 28, 2001

VADODARA: The controversy over Fortune Industries Limited allegedly duping its investors has taken an interesting turn.

FIL has admitted that there are a certain disputed cases where settlements have to be formally made but it maintains that there were not many investors.

FIL has maintained that it had issued promoter shares quota in August 1996 while it had got itself registered as a public limited company on October 23, the same year. Even as it is alleged that about 250 investors in Vadodara had lost its money in FIL the company's chartered accountant Umesh Dangarwala said that the investors were fewer than what is being alleged.

"In all there were 38 investors. There was no investor from Vadodara. Also the investment is not of Rs 1.5 crore but only Rs 15 lakhs", Dangarwala said in a press statement. He, however, admitted that there were four disputed cases and the FIL was in the process of settling them. "Otherwise all the grievances of investors have been taken care of", Dangarwala said.

FIL investors had also alleged that they did not find the company's corporate office in Surat and head office in Selvassa as mentioned by the promoters. It is now learnt that FIL had shifted its office to Ahmedabad.

Related New - Company 'defrauds' investors of Rs 1.5 crore

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Angry quake-hit people plan to march to New Delhi Saturday, April 28, 2001

By Pradeep Mallik, India Abroad News Service

Ahmedabad, Apr 27 - The quake-hit people of Anjar town in Gujarat are planning to march to New Delhi to press their demand for a better rehabilitation package.

"The people of Anjar will meet within two days to finalize the future course of action. This time we are inviting all the people of the Kutch district who feel the government's rehabilitation package is poor," Anjar Group 2001 leader Shyam Sunder told IANS on the telephone.

Anjar is one of the four major towns of Kutch district that bore the brunt of the January 26 quake in which 25,000 people died and tens of thousands were left homeless.

About 1,200 people from Anjar undertook a nearly 350 km-long march to state capital Gandhinagar this month under the Anjar Group 2001 banner to press for a rehabilitation package. The march was called off on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, about 30 km from Gandhinagar, after Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel assured the protesters that their concerns would be taken into account.

Sunder said this time the march may begin from Gandhinagar or the famed Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, where Mahatma Gandhi launched his historic Dandi march.

The state government Tuesday announced a package for the four main towns of Kutch -- Bhuj, Anjar, Bhachau and Rapar, but Anjar Group 2001 rejected it as "a cruel joke" and said the package would only help the builders' lobby.

According to Sunder, "The rehabilitation package would force the people of Anjar to seek land outside the old town to build houses of their choice. Developer-builders will make a killing."

Sunder claimed the government had gone back on its written promise to Group 2001 that led the protesters to call off their earlier march.

"According to the agreement signed in the presence of five ministers and senior bureaucrats, the government was to allocate land as per the socio-economic condition of the affected people, he said. Instead, it has made just two categories and allocated 100 square meters and 125 square meters. What kind of house can you build given the fact that construction will be allowed only on 60 percent of the allotted plot as per the new rules?" he said.

The group was to meet Patel Thursday. The meeting could not take place as Patel had not returned from New Delhi where he has gone to meet Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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Angry quake-hit people plan to march to New Delhi Saturday, April 28, 2001

By Pradeep Mallik, India Abroad News Service

Ahmedabad, Apr 27 - The quake-hit people of Anjar town in Gujarat are planning to march to New Delhi to press their demand for a better rehabilitation package.

"The people of Anjar will meet within two days to finalize the future course of action. This time we are inviting all the people of the Kutch district who feel the government's rehabilitation package is poor," Anjar Group 2001 leader Shyam Sunder told IANS on the telephone.

Anjar is one of the four major towns of Kutch district that bore the brunt of the January 26 quake in which 25,000 people died and tens of thousands were left homeless.

About 1,200 people from Anjar undertook a nearly 350 km-long march to state capital Gandhinagar this month under the Anjar Group 2001 banner to press for a rehabilitation package. The march was called off on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, about 30 km from Gandhinagar, after Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel assured the protesters that their concerns would be taken into account.

Sunder said this time the march may begin from Gandhinagar or the famed Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, where Mahatma Gandhi launched his historic Dandi march.

The state government Tuesday announced a package for the four main towns of Kutch -- Bhuj, Anjar, Bhachau and Rapar, but Anjar Group 2001 rejected it as "a cruel joke" and said the package would only help the builders' lobby.

According to Sunder, "The rehabilitation package would force the people of Anjar to seek land outside the old town to build houses of their choice. Developer-builders will make a killing."

Sunder claimed the government had gone back on its written promise to Group 2001 that led the protesters to call off their earlier march.

"According to the agreement signed in the presence of five ministers and senior bureaucrats, the government was to allocate land as per the socio-economic condition of the affected people, he said. Instead, it has made just two categories and allocated 100 square meters and 125 square meters. What kind of house can you build given the fact that construction will be allowed only on 60 percent of the allotted plot as per the new rules?" he said.

The group was to meet Patel Thursday. The meeting could not take place as Patel had not returned from New Delhi where he has gone to meet Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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Quake-hit Gujarat now reels from drought Saturday, April 28, 2001

BABAJIPURA, India- Lakshmiben has to line up in the blazing sun for at least four hours a day just to get two buckets of water from a village well.

It's a long and tortuous wait but the 42-year-old mother of three in Babajipura village in Gujarat doesn't have a choice.

She is one of millions desperately in need of drinking water in the coastal region, already struggling to recover from a massive earthquake in January and now in the grips of a severe drought for the third year in a row, officials say.

"With temperatures rising day by day, I'm not sure where I'll be able to get enough drinking water for my family," said Lakshmiben who along with about 1,500 other villagers depends on one of three fast-drying wells in the village.

Last year, about 50 million people were hit and thousands of cattle killed in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh in what was called the worst drought in 100 years.

According to the state government, 13,133 villages have been hit by the drought this year compared with only 9,521 villages in the state that has a population of more than 48 million.

With ground water levels in the parched province dropping to their lowest level in 10 years and lakes drying up, thousands of people are migrating to other areas, the spectre of disease looms over the region and brawls among desperate villagers are common.

"Women often fight among themselves as they gather around the well," Jeevanbhai Jhalubhai Patel, headman of the predominantly agricultural village of Babajipura, told Reuters.

"Men have no means to earn a living and are going to other parts of the state to look for jobs to support their families," he added.


FEAR OF DISEASE

Welfare workers said they feared the emergence of a host of health problems because water in the few lakes that have not run dry is muddy and the ground water is saline.

Government officials said there had been no reports of deaths but welfare workers feared eye infections and diarrhoea could increase as temperatures topped 45 degrees Celsius in the next few months.

"People are prone to diseases like eye infection, diarrhoea and dehydration during the summer," said Joseph Kuzhikattu, a priest who helps women and children in Chachana, about 130 km from Ahmedabad.

Villagers complain the government is doing little to provide relief to drought-hit areas because it is too busy grappling with relief efforts for survivors of the earthquake.

The quake, which clocked 7.7 on the Richter scale, killed at least 30,000 people and left millions of people homeless in Gujarat, India's second most industrialised state.

"We have heard that the government is providing food grain at cheap rates but no official has visited the village to find out the severity of the drought and needs of the people," said Patel.

Officials say the government has stepped up the pace of relief work by running "water trains" to drought-hit areas and launching food-for-work programmes.

The government runs a daily train with 750,000 litres of water from Bhavnagar district to Amreli district, covering about 200 km, to supply water to drought-hit people.

"It's true that the primary focus of the government is on rehabilitating the quake victims but it is not at the cost of those suffering from the drought," said G.C. Mumrmu, the state's additional relief commissioner.

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