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April 20, 2001 - April 21, 2001

Work on laying of gas-line network begins Saturday, April 21, 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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Balwant Jani finds time for academic work Saturday, April 21, 2001

SOME years ago when Prof N R Dave took over as vice-chancellor, it was suggested in these columns that any teacher elevated to this position (Prof Dave was a professor at the L.D. College of Engineering for many years before he became the director of technical education, Gujarat) should do some teaching work at a college on the university's main campus.

Since there was no engineering college at Patan, he could not do any teaching or research there. With Dr Balwant Jani as vice-chancellor, the situation is entirely different. He was for a long time professor of Gujarati at Saurashtra University and to his credit, it must be said, that he has continued to guide research in Gujarati at Patan.

Last month under his guidance a student prepared a dissertation for the M.Phil degree. Despite his onerous duties, Balwant Jani has found time to guide research - a laudable effort, indeed. Pari Passu, this must apply to all those vice-chancellors whose academic qualifications entitle them to do teaching or guide research. Such a step would enable a vice-chancellor to not only to keep in touch with the subject but also benefit the students at the same time. To some extent it helps administrative work, too.

The UGC has generously donated Rs 25 lakhs for repair of buildings damaged in the earthquake. It has also sanctioned Rs 3 lakhs for 2000-01 for additional projects and the establishment of a SC/ST cell, the post of a co-ordinator, research statistical officer, a stenographer and a peon.

This would certainly help the SC/ST students in solving the problems they face at the colleges or the university. In addition, the UGC has given grants for buying computers at Mehsana, Vadnagar, Idar, Visnagar, Unjha, Himmatnagar, Vijaynagar to the tune of Rs. 1.25 lakhs each.

A camp for research in archaeology was organised at the Arts & Commerce College, Dhansura under the auspices of the university extra mural department. It dealt with various aspects of this work. Experts and the teachers took part in it. A camp for women's legal education was held at Dhansura.

An interesting seminar on the future of libraries in the 21st century held by the library & information department was addressed by cultural affairs minister Mahendra Trivedi and university textbook board chairman Keshubhai Desai. They elaborated on the vital importance of books even in the age of computers.

Dr S M Salgare of the UGC, in his keynote address, stressed on the need to use books even in the fast developing electronics media world.

Dr Jani also spoke on the importance of putting library officers on par with college and university teachers. At the book exhibition students, teaches and others lapped up books worth Rs 1 lakh. Librarian Manibhai Prajapati successfully organised the whole show.

At a lecture at the B.Ed college, Mehsana, B A Prajapati, Director, S K School of Business Management, spoke of the new parameters introduced in the system of education today.

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Skeletons tumble out of MSU closet Saturday, April 21, 2001

VADODARA: Skeletons have started tumbling out of the MS University closet as MR Vyas case takes yet another turn. After nailing Vyas and declaring Umesh Dangarwala an abettor in fraud, the focus is shifted on key players in university that had allegedly played an influential role in Vyas controversy.

In the line of fire (or so is the impression on MSU campus) than are commerce faculty dean SK Singh, commerce faculty teacher Shirish Kulkarni, management faculty teacher Kiran Joshi and pro vice-chancellor VD Pathak.

Friday's syndicate meeting of MSU concluded with formation of a six-member committee to implement findings of Vyas case inquiry committee. The committee has also been given the task to get to the root of Vyas controversy and find out whether Singh, Kulkarni, Joshi and Pathak had deliberately helped an ineligible Vyas get a promotion. The committee will also inquire thoroughly into the role played by Umesh Dangarwala.

Syndicate member Narendra Parmar has been appointed as the convenor of the six-member committee. The other members are Dr Jayshree Mehta, Nilesh Shukla, Anil Navle, Ghanshyam Dalal and Ajay Joshi.

Friday syndicate meeting was a notch better than Thursday's stormy and unruly meeting that was adjourned due to intense group fighting among syndicate members.

However the rift between two groups of syndicate member was imminent. One group of members held that Singh, Kulkarni, Joshi and Pathak all were responsible and should be held guilty in Vyas case while the other group said that their names were being unwarrantedly dragged into the controversy.

Some syndicate members allege that Singh and Pathak had been lenient in forwarding Vyas's application and conducting his interview respectively. The allegation against Joshi is that he managed the material for Vyas while that against Kulkarni is that he influenced the PVC to get an okay for Vyas in the final interview. The allegations were hotly debated in Friday's meeting.

Vice-chancellor Anil Kane stood by PVC. "Pathak is a teacher and by nature lenient. He can't be held guilty of partisan in Vyas case. He is lenient with every teacher who applies for promotion. Vyas was not an exception and hence it cannot be concluded that the PVC was deliberately soft", Kane said.

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Tests find Ahmedabad builders guilty of flouting norms Friday, April 20, 2001

Ahmedabad: A National Council of Cement and Building Material (NCCBM) report on the quality of building materials has blamed builders-developers of Ahmedabad for the collapse of 60-odd multistoried residential apartment blocks in the January 26 earthquake, killing nearly 800 people.

The earthquake claimed nearly 25,000 lives and left tens of thousands of people homeless and penniless.

The report was submitted to the city police that had commissioned the NCCBM to carry out tests on samples of the 60-odd buildings to fix responsibility. The police had sought answers to 80 questions, 20 each on vertical columns, the horizontal beams and concrete slabs, and 10 each on mortar and cluster of rods used.

The NCCBM report has confirmed that the building materials used in Shikhar Tower and Mansi complex were sub-standard and the buildings collapsed because of the builders' negligence.

In the Mansi complex case, the report said that the clear cover to the main reinforcement of vertical column was 30 to 35 mm whereas it should have been 35 to 65 mm, according to the National Building Code (NBC).

The NCCBM also found the concrete to be of poor quality and the spacing of the stirrups more than that specified in the NBC. According to the report, the strength of the concrete in slabs and columns was less than M-10 grade while it should have been at least M-15. Even the cement content in the concrete was lower than required.

In the Shikhar Tower case, too, the NCCBM found the norms flouted in each of the five aspects. Concrete was weaker than established NBC norms and reinforced steel was rusted at several places. Worse, the apartment was carrying vertical load in excess. This led to additional pressure on the horizontal beams that were weak and gave way when the earth rumbled.

Police have requested the NCCBM to submit another report in simpler language as the one already submitted uses technical jargon that police would find hard to interpret while carrying out further investigations.

Meanwhile, the builder-developers of at least 17 buildings that collapsed are still on the run.

Police have registered a total of 60 cases against builder-developers of the 60-odd multistoried apartment blocks. Most of the builders went into hiding after complaints were lodged against them.

"We have been able to nab 76 builders-developers in 43 cases and charge several of them. The three builders against whom warrants under PASA (Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act) were issued have been arrested. Others will be caught in due course," said a police spokesman.

However, after waiting for more than two months for the police to arrest all the accused, residents of some of the buildings that collapsed allege that the police are not arresting the builders because of political pressure.

The Vardayini apartment block residents are up in arms against police "inaction". "The police are not arresting the builder-developer as he has political connections," said Dipak Sheth, a flat owner.

Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pandey, however, denies there is any political interference in his work. "The police have been going about its business and they have booked the guilty. The police have charged two more builders and three town development officers Monday," he said.

He pointed out that the city police had got the NCCBM to carry out the scientific tests on the collapsed building debris to fix the responsibility despite the state government insisting on assigning the job to the government-run Gujarat Engineering Research Institute.

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BHARUCH:::: Currency racket traced to Bangalore, 9 held Friday, April 20, 2001

BHARUCH: A well-networked gang that printed and circulated fake currency has been detained by Bharuch police from Bangalore. The search operation initiated on March 5 ended on April 15 when police inspector Kaushik Pandya raided a residential complex in Bangalore and arrested nine people, including a woman. Sophisticated equipment like computers, scanners, chemicals and stationery, used for making fake notes were confiscated.

The team included men well versed with computers to design fake notes of Rs 500, strikingly similar to the genuine notes. Those arrested are Vinay Thomas, P T Venu Thomas, Sunil Ayappa, K K Sibu, Martin Joseph Jose, Prasad Babu, C I Babu, Binoy Joseph, Salamullah Abdul Rehman - all belonging to Kerala.

They confessed that they had printed notes worth Rs.75 lakh, and had circulated notes worth Rs.45 lakhs in Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Notes worth Rs.30 lakh were circulated in other states. Agents appointed at different locations in three states were given handsome commission.

They printed these notes at Uparpet where they had rented one bungalow for the past one year. When the police rushed there, neighbours were shocked to hear the gang's activities. The gang leader also confessed that they were quality conscious and took special care about the design and printing standards.

The Bharuch police arrested 23 in the currency racket so far. The first case was detected at Palej (Bharuch) and Sinor (Vadodara) on March 5. DSP Manoj Antani handed over investigation to Kaushik Pandya, who first seized 64 notes from Sinor resident Yasinkhan Sardarkhan Pathan, Abdulkhan Majidkhan and Iqbalkhan Nannekhan Pathan.

These people said they had obtained the notes from Surat where the police arrested Abdul Khalik Abdul Samar Mansori, Asraf Abdul Rajjak Gulamnabi Sheikh, Mohammed Irfan Adamiya Rangunwala, Mahomad Salim Ismail Noor Mohamda Memon and Mohamad Arif Gulamnabi Sheikh and seized notes worth Rs.20,000. They confessed that the notes had been given by people from Rajasthan.

Pandya and his team rushed to Sirohi and Jhalore districts in Rajasthan and arrested Lalit Gomarao Jain, Natvar Dharamchandji Jain, Sankarlal Babuji Rathod, Tejaram Velaramji Pali and Vikram Laccharam Mali. They said 'notes' worth Rs.9 lakh had been given by Abdul Rehman Mayudin Adbul Karim Sheikh. He was arrested but he managed to get bail. After his release, the police mounted vigil and tracked his movement and traced the root the racket to Bangalore.

Pandya said Abdul Rehman from Mumbai was the kingpin who introduced fake notes in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

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