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April 14, 2001 - April 15, 2001

Documentary on Kutch highlights govt failure Sunday, April 15, 2001

VADODARA: The Socialist Unity Centre of India screened a documentary on quake-ravaged Kutch, exposing the failure of the state government in handling the crisis.

The 45-minute odd documentary titled 'Kutch - The Death Valley' is shot in Anjar, Bhuj and Bhachau. The documentary shows police lathi-charging quake-affected people of Bhachau and unscrupulous elements demanding Rs 40 per day to clean debris. The documentary exposes government's failure in all areas of relief and rehabilitation. It shows improper and irregular distribution of ration and tents. The documentary was shot on January 31, sixth day after the devastating quake hit Kutch.

After the screening the documentary, SUCI office here issued a press statement lambasting the government. SUCI has also demanded that the earthquake should be declared a national crisis and rehabilitation work should be initiated by taking local villagers into confidence.

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Quake-hit people end march protesting tardy rehabilitation Sunday, April 15, 2001

Gandhinagar, Apr 14 - The Gujarat government was spared of a big embarrassment when a group of people from the quake-devastated town of Anjar in Kutch district late Friday night called off their march to the state capital to protest the delay in announcing a rehabilitation package for the town.

The decision of the Anjar Group 2001, the organization which initiated the 300 km-long march earlier this month, came after a long meeting of its representatives with Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and Industry Minister Suresh Mehta.

The marchers had reached the outskirts of the state's principal city of Ahmedabad, about 30 km from here, and were expected to enter Gandhinagar Saturday morning.

Patel and Mehta, who hails from Kutch district, assured Anjar Group 2001 leaders Mavjibhai Sorathia and Shyam Sundar that the government would announce a resettlement and rehabilitation package by April 23. The package, amounting to about Rs. 10 billion, would take care of the aspirations of the local people, they said.

The people of Anjar want to rebuild the town at a new site near the old location. Mehta appreciated their concern for safety and said the package would take into consideration their demand.

The march was proving a big embarrassment for the government, which has been claiming that everything is fine on the resettlement and rehabilitation front. The group was demanding an immediate resettlement and rehabilitation package for Anjar town where debris is strewn more than two months since the quake struck Gujarat on January 26, killing about 25,000 people and leaving tens of thousands injured and homeless.

Pushed to the wall, Patel said his government would announce the package for the four quake-devastated towns of Bhuj, Anjar, Bhachau and Rapar by April 23. The government also came out with a "white paper" on the impact of the quake and the administration's efforts to reach relief to the people.

Earlier this week, Patel had told a small delegation of the Anjar Group 2001 that the package was being prepared by the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority. The delegation had reached here in advance to hand over a memorandum to the chief minister.

The group has threatened to march to the national capital New Delhi if it does not get a favorable response in Gandhinagar. Its representatives also said they were ready to build the town all over again at a new site, but expert opinion should be solicited before finalizing the location.

The delay in removal of debris is what has been frustrating the local people most. "The rally is a manifestation of this frustration and the feeling that they are being denied justice," Sorathia said.

The state government has been wavering on the reconstruction of the four towns of Kutch district that bore the brunt of the Republic Day quake. While it announced a resettlement and rehabilitation package for the villages of Kutch about a month ago, it has not been able to give final shape to a package for the towns.

The state government first toyed with the idea of shifting the towns to new sites, but later abandoned the plan for lack of consensus among the inhabitants and the cost involved. Earlier this week it floated tenders inviting bids for debris clearance from these towns.

The government "white paper" said that the powerful quake had caused extensive damage in 7,633 villages, two major cities of Ahmedabad and Surat as well as nine other urban centers, directly affecting a staggering population of 16 million. It pointed out that in similar disasters in Mexico City, Kobe in Japan and Latur in Maharashtra earlier, the rehabilitation period ranged from 26 months to 49 months to five years respectively.

The paper said the government had distributed cash doles of Rs. 638.4 million to 2.69 million families, household assistance of Rs. 3.64 million to 904,000 families, death compensation of Rs. 8.29 million to 11,435 next of kin of the victims and had removed 385,000 tons of debris from Kutch district.

It took note of the World Bank's approval of the state government's plan to remove 4.48 million tons of debris from four major towns of Anjar, Bhuj, Bhachau and Rapar at a cost of Rs. 185.7 million by giving contracts to private parties. In addition, it said, the government had already announced four packages, including the rehabilitation and reconstruction of quake-hit people in urban as well as rural areas and to revive the industrial units, hit hard by the quake.
News source - India Abroad News service

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Quake-hit people end march protesting tardy rehabilitation Sunday, April 15, 2001

Gandhinagar, Apr 14 - The Gujarat government was spared of a big embarrassment when a group of people from the quake-devastated town of Anjar in Kutch district late Friday night called off their march to the state capital to protest the delay in announcing a rehabilitation package for the town.

The decision of the Anjar Group 2001, the organization which initiated the 300 km-long march earlier this month, came after a long meeting of its representatives with Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and Industry Minister Suresh Mehta.

The marchers had reached the outskirts of the state's principal city of Ahmedabad, about 30 km from here, and were expected to enter Gandhinagar Saturday morning.

Patel and Mehta, who hails from Kutch district, assured Anjar Group 2001 leaders Mavjibhai Sorathia and Shyam Sundar that the government would announce a resettlement and rehabilitation package by April 23. The package, amounting to about Rs. 10 billion, would take care of the aspirations of the local people, they said.

The people of Anjar want to rebuild the town at a new site near the old location. Mehta appreciated their concern for safety and said the package would take into consideration their demand.

The march was proving a big embarrassment for the government, which has been claiming that everything is fine on the resettlement and rehabilitation front. The group was demanding an immediate resettlement and rehabilitation package for Anjar town where debris is strewn more than two months since the quake struck Gujarat on January 26, killing about 25,000 people and leaving tens of thousands injured and homeless.

Pushed to the wall, Patel said his government would announce the package for the four quake-devastated towns of Bhuj, Anjar, Bhachau and Rapar by April 23. The government also came out with a "white paper" on the impact of the quake and the administration's efforts to reach relief to the people.

Earlier this week, Patel had told a small delegation of the Anjar Group 2001 that the package was being prepared by the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority. The delegation had reached here in advance to hand over a memorandum to the chief minister.

The group has threatened to march to the national capital New Delhi if it does not get a favorable response in Gandhinagar. Its representatives also said they were ready to build the town all over again at a new site, but expert opinion should be solicited before finalizing the location.

The delay in removal of debris is what has been frustrating the local people most. "The rally is a manifestation of this frustration and the feeling that they are being denied justice," Sorathia said.

The state government has been wavering on the reconstruction of the four towns of Kutch district that bore the brunt of the Republic Day quake. While it announced a resettlement and rehabilitation package for the villages of Kutch about a month ago, it has not been able to give final shape to a package for the towns.

The state government first toyed with the idea of shifting the towns to new sites, but later abandoned the plan for lack of consensus among the inhabitants and the cost involved. Earlier this week it floated tenders inviting bids for debris clearance from these towns.

The government "white paper" said that the powerful quake had caused extensive damage in 7,633 villages, two major cities of Ahmedabad and Surat as well as nine other urban centers, directly affecting a staggering population of 16 million. It pointed out that in similar disasters in Mexico City, Kobe in Japan and Latur in Maharashtra earlier, the rehabilitation period ranged from 26 months to 49 months to five years respectively.

The paper said the government had distributed cash doles of Rs. 638.4 million to 2.69 million families, household assistance of Rs. 3.64 million to 904,000 families, death compensation of Rs. 8.29 million to 11,435 next of kin of the victims and had removed 385,000 tons of debris from Kutch district.

It took note of the World Bank's approval of the state government's plan to remove 4.48 million tons of debris from four major towns of Anjar, Bhuj, Bhachau and Rapar at a cost of Rs. 185.7 million by giving contracts to private parties. In addition, it said, the government had already announced four packages, including the rehabilitation and reconstruction of quake-hit people in urban as well as rural areas and to revive the industrial units, hit hard by the quake.
News source - India Abroad News service

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Quake-affected set out on "padyatra" to meet Chief Minister Saturday, April 14, 2001

Ahmedabad, Apr 12 (PTI) Peeved at the failure of Gujarat Government to announce a rehabilitation package for Kutch, 700 quake-affected people, mostly from Anjar and Bachhau, have formed a group and set out on a 350 km padyatra from border district to Gandhinagar to meet Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel.
The "padyatris", including women, who are trudging about 30 to 40 kms daily, have reached Viramgam in Ahmedabad district Wednesday and would be in Gandhinagar Friday.

Meanwhile, opposition Congress said Gujarat would have to pay a heavy price for the dithering on announcing a rehabilitation package for the four worst-hit towns of Kutch district - Anjar, Bachhau, Rapar, Bhuj - which were devastated in the January 26 earthquake.

A decision is still awaited on whether they would be rebuilt or relocated.

Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has said a comprehensive rehabilitation package for Anjar will be announced by April 23

President of Gujarat Pradesh Mahila Congress Dr Shantaben Chavda warned that if the state governmend did not act immediately, the situation could go out of control.

She told PTI on Thursday that people of Kutch were feeling miserable and neglected and therefore anger was building up in them and could lead to a demand for a separate state.

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Chargesheets filed against builders of collapsed towers Saturday, April 14, 2001

Ahmedabad, Apr 13 (PTI) The city police, who registered 60 cases of culpable homicide against builders and others in connection with collapse of nearly 75 multi-storeyed buildings here in the January 26 earthquake that claimed nearly 750 lives, has filed chargesheets against seven of them in a local court.
Police had arrested 76 builders, engineers, architects and civic officials under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), section 420 (cheating), section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code.

The accused were also booked for violating provisions of Gujarat Flat Ownership Act, police said on Friday.

Those chargesheeted on Thursday include B M Oza (builder of Sundervan Apartment) and builders of Vidyalaxmi Apartment Bhadresh Maneklal Trivedi and Moolchand B Patel, police said.

Twenty-four persons had died in the collapse of Sundervan apartment and five in Vidyalaxmi.

Others against whom chargesheets were filed are Jayesh Desai (structural engineer), senior town planner of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority M M Bhaumik, assistant town planner of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) Jayantilal Sompura and V J Dhanani, an inspector in AMC's town development department.

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