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April 16, 2001 - April 16, 2001

Kaun banega director ACB Monday, April 16, 2001

With the exit of CP Singh, the changes at the top of the police hierarchy has unleashed another round of claims for the top posts in the police department, and, this time, the central characters are DGP (Intelligence) R N Bhattacharya and additional DGP (law and order) S Baneerji.

Now for a quick recap, Singh's place has been taken over by the new DGP K Chakraborty, leaving the post of director, Anti-Corruption Bureau, vacant.

In Gujarat police there are three posts for DGPs and two of them are independent - DGP police general and Director ACB. Now, Bhattacharya had to contend with working as DGP intelligence because both Singh and Chakraborty were senior to him.

This, everyone admits is a raw deal because Bhattacharya had led a unit which also came under Singh. To put it squarely, Singh and Bhattacharya were both DGPs but one was working under the other.

Now even after a fortnight of Chakraborty's taking over general policing, the ACB director's post has not been filled in. Being an independent unit, Bhattacharya wants to get out of the fold that he was in till now despite becoming a DGP.

But the problem is Baneerji too has been elevated to the rank of full-time DGP, and the orders to that effect are expected to come any time now. In that case there will be two DGPs and one independent post. Now if the decision in Bhattacharya's favour does not come before Baneerji officially gets the orders then it will boil down to "who is senior'' and the weather in Police Bhavan could get hot, and even some sparks could fly.

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Gutter workers form union against privatisation Monday, April 16, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Faced with the threat of privatisation and working under severe duress, including staff shortage and apathy of authorities, manhole workers of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation formed the state's first ever gutter workers' union - the Kamdar Suraksha Mandal - on Saturday.

The union apart from looking after welfare of the over 1,500 manhole workers will hold talks with AMC to prevent private contractors to foray into what has remained their domain for years together.

The union came into being at a programme which also saw the release of the first-ever handbook titled Gutter Wyavstha Ane Suraksha (Manhole management and safety). This book while going into the history of gutter work lists out the hazards involved with this job and safety measures which should be adopted both by the employers as well as the workers themselves. The book is also being translated into English for wider use and circulation.

"For years together the gutter workers have forgone even national holidays, worked in sub-human conditions without safety gear leading to fatal accidents and occupational health hazards," says A.P. Mishra, chief of Kamdar Swasthya Suraksha Mandal which has ensured that the union gets a kick-start with the membership of no less than 400 gutter workers.

The unionists pointed out that the workers often have to go down 20 to 25 feet and clear out the mess in abominable conditions often leading to health problems.

"This union will fight on a 22 point charter of demands prime among which is to ensure safety for all manhole workers. Though this is an emergency service we are treated as untouchables and outcasts. We don't get free medical facilities despite the occupational health hazard we face everyday," said a unionist.

In their next step the unionists are going to take will be to spread the ambit of Kamdar Suraksha Mandal to Surat and Vadodara. "We want to unite the manhole workers employed in different municipal corporations of the state. They have been relegated to the outcast status for very long. Nobody recognises our services to the society and neither do the authorities give them even basic facilities to help improve out working conditions. One hopes this union will change all that," says Mishra.

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Police tighten security at Bardoli after blast Monday, April 16, 2001

SURAT: Following a crude bomb blast in front of the Aksa Masjid at Bardoli in the wee hours of Friday, the district rural police have tightened the security arrangements in the area.

Glass pane of some of the windows of the mosque got damaged in the incident. The loud sound of the blast created panic in the communally sensitive area.

District rural police superintendent K L N Rao said all preventive measures were taken to thwart any untoward incident. Samples from the blast site had been sent to the forensic science laboratory but in the absence of any conclusive evidence, the motive behind the bomb blast could not be established so far, Rao said.

Investigations into the incident have been launched but no definite clues have been arrived at, he added. Based on initial findings, this incident could be the brain child of anti-social elements for creating panic in the town, Rao opined.

Preliminary observation of the blast site revealed that the bomb was not a very powerful one. However, only after examination of samples by forensic laboratory details of the bomb would be known, Rao informed.

Being a communally sensitive area, the incident sent shock waves among the residents in the Bardoli town.

The district collector Sangeeta Singh convened an emergency meeting of the peace committee comprising members from all communities at Bardoli on Friday. Community representatives assured the district administration of maintaining communal harmony and peace in the area, sources said.

Meanwhile, peace prevailed in the town and no arrests have been made so far in this connection though the suspects are under constant police monitoring. Besides, the rural police have taken all the precautionary measures to thwart any move to create mischief here, police sources said.

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Property dispute turns violent at Odhav Monday, April 16, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A dispute over property in Nikol village near here turned violent on Sunday morning with the disputing parties lodging complaints against each other of assault and use of firearms.

A complaint was lodged at the Odhav police station by Suresh Ratilal Vyas which stated that on Sunday morning at 7 am, the accused, Arvind Ishwarbhai Patel, Gangaram, Dharamvir along with a few others, barged into his field under survey no 370 of Nikol village, threw out his farm labourer Ravaji Thakore and beat up his men.

According to him, Gangaram who wields a gun, fired two rounds during the scuffle. Against this, Arvind Patel lodged a counter complaint at the same police station naming Suresh Vyas as the accused. He stated that the accused, accompanied by seven others barged into his land, abused him and attacked his men with sticks. He added that one Bhadresh Bhatt, who was with him, brandished a revolver threatening to kill him.

The Odhav police lodged a case of rioting against the offenders and is investigating the incident.

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Unit following pollution norms: Alembic chief Monday, April 16, 2001

VADODARA: Alembic Limited chairman Chirayu Amin said on Sunday his company had implemented all pollution-control norms at its plant here. These norms were prescribed by a panel of pollution-control officers appointed by the collectorate.

Amin, however, once again refuted charges that his production units had flouted pollution-control norms at any point of time.

He said the pharmaceutical house had installed pollution-control mechanism at the time of inception. "We had pumped in Rs 10 crore to set up these facilities, and we have complied with pollution norms through out," said Amin, who heads the Rs 600-crore drug firm and is also FICCI president.

The collectorate had come down heavily on the firm last month when its fact-finding panel zeroed down on the company, following complaints of air pollution by the city dwellers.

The residents had complained of foul smell pervading the atmosphere. This was also causing them health problems.

The fact-finding panel, after its study, pointed a finger at the pharmaceutical company. The panel alleged that due to non-functioning of certain processing units of the factory, there were gaseous emissions, foul-smelling in nature.

Alembic, however, refuted all charges and also obtained stay from the court on the notice it had received from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board last month, directing it to shut down some of its units. The company was also directed to take up certain measures, following a survey study conducted by a fact-finding team appointed by the local administration of Vadodara.

Amin maintained that at no point of time were there any harmful polluting emission from the Alembic plant, and there was no way which could give rise to such a situation in the ISO 14001 plant, which signifies compliance of environmental standards.

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