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April 19, 2001 - April 19, 2001

Union warns SBI over suspension Thursday, April 19, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Threatening a nation-wide strike by officers of the State Bank of India, the Federation of State Bank Officers Association has demanded immediate reinstatement of two junior officers who were suspended after the bank was caught in a Rs 41 crore bullion scam.

Speaking to reporters after talks with the SBI's regional management here Federation national president BB Das said the two officers, Mohit Shrivastava and Shekhar D'Costa, were made scapegoats in the case.

Das said this was not a mistake or something done with malafied intention but this was a systems failure. Das said the bank had started trading in gold and silver only two years ago and had not put in place a proper system.

He said without proper systems this had to happen one day and now after Rs 3000 crore worth of sales the management has found a scapegoat and punished two junior officials.

He said the incident occurred on March 8 and the two officers of the overseas branch were suspended in April, a month after the incident, while a deputy general manager and two general managers were allowed to go scot-free by transferring them.

Terming the suspensions a hasty decision which could have been checked by the Reserve Bank of India, Das said the two officer should be reinstated and the same should happen in a couple of days or they would launch a nation-wide strike.

A delegation of SBI officers from Ahmedabad, led by Das, are expected to meet the chairman of the bank on Thursday. And if that does not bring desired results, the bank officers will strike work and organise prolonged agitation programmes both in Gujarat and other parts of the country.

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Surat police begins quizzing Chhota Rajan man Thursday, April 19, 2001

SURAT: The Surat police on Tuesday began interrogating gangster Om Prakash Singh who is allegedly involved in several cases of extortions, dubious land deals and murder of real estate agent Hanskamal Grover last year. Singh is being interrogated by a special team of senior police officials at an undisclosed location .

Surat police is quite exited about what the interrogation of Singh , a member of the Chota Rajan gang, would unravel in the coming days. The city police had obtained custody of Singh from Delhi police on Sunday night after painstaking efforts.

Under heavy security, he was brought to Ahmedabad by flight and to the city by road on Monday afternoon. Singh was produced

before the judicial magistrate on Monday night and was remanded to police custody for seven days.

Police commissioner Vineet Kumar Gupta told The Times of India that Singh has been kept at an undisclosed place in the city

amidst tight security in view of possible threats to his life by rival groups of underworld mafia.

Singh was nabbed by the Delhi police on March 24 in Delhi and interrogations revealed his being involved in several cases of

extortions and other deals in Surat and other parts of Gujarat.

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Promised quantum of Narmada water not received Thursday, April 19, 2001

RAJKOT: The Water Supply Board's claim that 180 lakh gallons of water was being supplied daily to Rajkot city and another 220 lakh litres was being supplied to Dhoraji, Jetpur and Gondal was a hollow one, senior engineers of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation said on Wednesday.

With Rajkot civic body officials themselves saying that the supply of Narmada waters was not as per promise, the residents have very little to say. Sources said that ever since the Narmada waters were brought to Rajkot amidst much fanfare, it was only on last Sunday that the city got anywhere near the promised quota of 40 lakh gallons of water.

On any regular day, the supply is around 25 to 27 lakh gallons. The Water Supply Board and Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who shouted from rooftops about bringing Narmada waters to Rajkot in a record period, have however belied the rosy hopes of the citizens as the quantum of water received is far from satisfactory.

As per the figures, Rajkot city gets 180 lakh litres of water, Gondal gets 50 lakh litres for itself as well as Jetpur and Dhoraji, eight villages between Vasvada and Gondal get 12.5 lakh litres of water, seven villages between Gondal Mevasa get 10 lakh litres, 19 villages between Gondal and Jetpur get 22.6 lakh litres, 12 villages between Mevasa and Fofal get 12.4 lakh litres and Jasdan gets 20 lakh litres.

However, going by the civic water works records, the daily supply of water from the Narmada project is just around 25 to 27 lakh litres. Despite claims of the BJP government that Saurashtra has been supplied Narmada water to quench its thirst, figures collected from various collectorates reveal all. Even now 1,916 villages in the entire Saurashtra region were being supplied water through tankers.

In Jamnagar district, 316 villages are being supplied water through tankers, 298 villages in Junagadh, 59 in Porbander, 442 in Rajkot district and 430 in Amreli district. The figures are rising with each passing day, collectorates claim.

The Water Supply Board has also been going ahead with drilling more bores. Three hundred and eighty-five bores have been drilled in 285 villages. The highest number of bores (218) were drilled in Junagadh district despite problems of salinity ingress.

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Irate residents offer bangles to commissioner Thursday, April 19, 2001

RAJKOT: BJP men offered bangles to municipal commissioner J P Gupta for failing to provide adequate water. A team of irate women led by BJP councillors went to the commissioner's office and shouted slogans against the administration.

With the temperatures rising, water woes are getting worse, despite government's claim that it has been able to supply Narmada waters to Rajkot.

The delegation, led by Rajkot legislator Ramesh Rupapara, said this was their fifth representation to the administration which had failed to provide adequate water. An irked commissioner later said that people had a right to demonstrate but this was no way to do it.

Residents have also alleged severe discrimination in water distribution. While official figures put tap connections at 50,000 in old Rajkot and 30,000 connections in new Rajkot, the ground reality is something quite different.

Not a single resident is able to fill more than three buckets of water in the stipulated 30 minutes given every third day.

With the situation being what it is, law and order situation might take an ugly turn, it is feared.

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GAU to receive World Bank aid Thursday, April 19, 2001

VADODARA: Gujarat Agricultural University (GAU) would soon receive financial support for its projects from the World Bank. The money would come either through the state government or through World Bank aided schemes.

"World Bank vice-president Dr Mieko Nishimizu, who visited the Information Technology (IT) Centre of GAU in Anand on Tuesday, was greatly impressed by the new projects initiated by the GAU and showed her willingness to give World Bank financial support," said GAU vice-chancellor MH Mehta.

The new projects taken up by the university includes projects on water management technologies including water harvesting and water recharging, initially for the Saurashtra region. "Water management is crucial in Gujarat as 70 per cent of the cultivated land depends upon the vagaries of weather," said Mehta.

Further, Mehta said the university has planned projects to identify the crops and start coastal saline farming so that the waste saline water can be better utilised in the draught prone areas.

"However, Dr Nishimizu said that the feasibility of getting financial support from the World Bank would be worked out later," added Mehta.

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