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April 22, 2001 - April 22, 2001

Work on state-wide network of gas lines begins Sunday, April 22, 2001

SURAT: With focus on gas as a primary commercial energy source to augment future energy supplies in the state, infrastructural facilities like LNG import terminals and state-wide network of high-pressure gas transmission pipelines are being laid in phases to facilitate transportation of gas from point of supply to points of demand.

Under the first phase, scheduled to be completed by mid-2004, around 600 km of pipeline would be covering Vapi in south to Vadnagar in north. In the second phase, the entire Saurashtra region would be covered with over 500 km of pipeline. Around 15 km of pipeline from Hazira to Mora has already commenced commercial operations since November 2000, with revenue generation of Rs 3 crore in the last financial year.

To review the progress of various interconnected projects at Hazira, state minister of energy and petrochemicals Kaushik Patel visited several sites on Friday. Patel stressed that gas-based projects would be beneficial for industries in the Hazira complex. The Essar Steel Ltd at Hazira gets its gas transported from these pipelines.

For execution of state-wide gas grid, Gujarat State Petronet Ltd (GSPL) has undertaken several studies and has concluded in its report that around 2500 km of pipeline network at an estimated cost of Rs 25,000 million would be required to cover the length and width of the state.

Patel said that the company had started acquisition of all 18 sections under phase one at Amboli Dahej, Bhadbhut, Pagathuan and Mora Utran. The company has signed gas transmission agreement with Gujarat State Energy Generation and Essar Steels Ltd at Hazira, Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd at Dahej and Gujarat Powerjen Energy Corporation Ltd at Pagathuan, according to energy and petrochemicals principal secretary Vijay Ranchan.

The total gas to be transported is about 1.8 to 2.0 MMSCMD for the companies under agreement for a period of 5 to 15 years. The sections under execution are being engineered and supervised by M/s Tractable for developing the gas grid in association with M/s Price Water House and M/s Coppers.

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The drought's hardest hit Sunday, April 22, 2001

RAJKOT : The heat in Saurashtra region has started making its impact felt for the third year in succession with the authorities having already started relief works to provide temporary livelihood to drought-affected people.

Nearly 2.10 lakh people are employed at 421 different relief sites in Rajkot district alone. The unfortunate part is that these people do not get the facilities stipulated in the government rules that workers engaged in relief work would be provided drinking water facility, a shelter from the scorching heat. In cases where there is no water source nearby, the workers would get an additional 80 paise per head to purchase water.

Most of these rules have virtually remained on paper in Rajkot district. The authorities have not only failed to provide workers with water, but their "humiliation" is heightened in the form of "payment " on the basis of their "performance". Payment is made only after quantifying a day's work by a labourer.

Though the rule stipulates that pregnant women, children and aged persons should not be employed, contractors employ them on their sites. Workers, on their part, also ask for work as they can't afford not working.

At most of the relief work sites, while the men-folk dig up pits, women, children and the aged carry the dug up material on their head. Most of them complain of dehydration and severe headache.

In the days to come as the mercury rises, the number of workers on relief sites is bound to increase, providing a more grim picture of hardships of the drought affected people.

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VMC fails to act on Mahi salinity Sunday, April 22, 2001

VADODARA: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has failed to clear the saline water that has collected near the Fazalpur French wells. Due to the reverse flow of sea water from the Gulf of Khambat into the Mahi last week, the river water had become saline. The VMC was forced to shut the Fazalpur French wells. Owing to this, supply of nearly one crore-gallon water from Fazalpur French wells was stopped.

Though earlier there were plans to start work to recede the level of saline water in the Mahi in two phases, however so far no steps have been taken. In this first phase, saline water was to be released to the sea through natural process, while in the second phase, the VMC was to draw water from the well, which would be put into the river for natural disposal.

"Earlier we thought of removing the saline water by bringing clean water to Mahi river. But the idea is not feasible. It's better that we allow the saline water to flow away naturally," said standing committee chairman Shabdsharan Brahmbhatt.

Reliable sources in the VMC say that this decision has been taken because the amount of water needed to purify the river would be three times more than the saline water. "At a time when the city is reeling under water crisis, the very idea to release pure water to flush out saline water sees irrational," said a VMC official.

"As the tide in the sea decreases the saline water will naturally flow back into the sea," said Brahmbhatt.

He added, that they regularly sucking out saline water from the Fazalpur French wells.

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VMC, NGOs meet to rid city of stay animals Sunday, April 22, 2001

VADODARA: The city could soon be rid of pigs, cows and dogs that presently populate the streets of Vadodara. This Herculean task might be achieved if a drive, which is to be launched shortly by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) and several animal right activists, is a success.

Alarmed by the increasing number of stray animals in the city, the VMC and various animal right activists got together on Friday to discuss ways to curb the menace.

While they have reached a consensus on managing stray dogs and cattle in the city, the question of tackling stray pigs remains unresolved with the VMC and NGOs at loggerheads with each other on this issue.

The decision to involve animal right activists was taken because earlier various groups had condemned VMCs decision to kill stray cattle to check the nuisance of stray animals.

In order to ensure that the city is free of stray dogs, the municipal commissioner suggested that they would appoint trained dog-catchers. "Unlike in many of the metropolitan cities, Vadodara doesn't have dog-catchers. VMC will appoint dog-catchers, who will catch stray dogs and hand them over to the NGOs, who will then sterilise these dogs," said Vadodara municipal commissioner Vilasani Ramchandran.

"NGOs can suggest the names of dog-catchers in and around the city, so that work to clear the city of stray dogs would start soon," said Vadodara Mayor Bharti Vyas.

Moreover, VMC also plans to start a movement to catch stray cattle. "We will co-ordinate with the police and ensure that the city is free from stray cattle," said Ramchandran.

However, both VMC and the activists were at loggerheads regarding the issue of pigs. While the VMC felt that the pigs should be killed, the animal activists were completely against such a move.

The animal activists said that it's important that instead of killing the pigs in the city, the VMC finds means to stop the entry of pigs into the city. "People who indulge in sale of pigs should be arrested and punished. Trucks that take pigs in and out of the city should be seized and the owners should be fined," said RO Shah of Beautiful Baroda Council.

"Last year the VMC had hired people from Kerala to kill the pigs by poisoning them. But the process of killing the pigs by poisoning them is really painful. Instead we should prepare a 'panjrapole', nearly 15 km away from the city limits, where the male and female pigs should be kept separately. This will natural lead to a fall in the pig population," said Shreyans Mehta of Vinoyog Parivar.

"Sterilising the stray animals is any day better than killing them. By killing pigs one won't be able to free the city from the terror of pigs," said Raju Shah of Sarv Dharm Jeev Dhaya Samiti.

But VMC seemed to disagree with the arguments of animal activists. "VMC is ready to provide a place, water and even food for the pigs. But the question as to who will catch these pigs remains unsolved. The NGOs need to take an initiative to catch the pigs or they should allow the VMC to follow the rules," added Ramchandran.

"Until the NGOs are able to arrive at an acceptable solution to curb the menace of pigs, VMC will continue to kill stray pigs in order to ensure the safety and health of the citizens," added Vyas.

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Expert warns of damage to ecology Sunday, April 22, 2001

VADODARA: The recent reverse flow of sea into the Mahi river is not a local phenomenon, it is a global phenomenon and in Gujarat it has already led to pollution and salinity of many rivers like Narmada, Tapi and Daman Ganga.

"If policies are not framed by the government to control damage to down stream ecology of rivers as a result of bunds and dams, South Gujarat too would one day become like Saurashtra and Kutch," warns Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti. According to him the TDS level that indicates the presence of solid particles in water has already reached 2000 TDS in river Narmada at Bharuch.

According to him government needs to formulate polices for water recharging. "There should be control on the use of ground water. Unlike other countries in India drawing sweet water is not regulated. This leads to wasteful use of water by industries. Many of which add to the pollution by using pure water from the rivers and the underground water bed," he said.

He says that the reverse flow of sea inwards is global phenomenon that has occurred in several parts of Gujarat and in other countries like the US, Brazil where the greenhouse effect is one of the factors that has caused it.

The depleted sweet water flow in rivers like Mahi, Narmada, Tapi, Daman ganga and others has depleted due to bunds and dams as well as the green house effect has caused the reverse flow here, says Prajapati.

He says that Mahi is not the only river that has been afflicted by the reverse sea flow. River Narmada too has been severely affected despite the fact that the dam is not complete yet. "Pollution and reverse flow of sea inwards have affected the entire 10-km belt on the golden corridor. If the government does not think of a policy for water recharging and ways to stop such a phenomenon the damage would aggravate," he says.

"This area might soon become Saurashtra and Kutch due to increase in salinity both in underground water as well as the soil. There is a need for more study on this phenomenon so that a decisive policy can be framed," says Prajapati.

There should be a policy that can regulate the use of underground water and efforts should be made to control the greenhouse effect and protect the down stream ecology of rivers where dams and bunds are constructed.

According to him the issue of sea level rise as a consequence of climatic warming and the greenhouse effect is of grave concern for Gujarat. Rising air temperature resulting from green house warming would increase Sea Surface Temperature (SST). This in turn would trigger off factors that would cause cyclones.

* Government should regulate and control use of ground water

* Effort should be made to protect down stream ecology of rivers on which dams and bunds are constructed

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