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April 13, 2001 - April 13, 2001

Mayor, commissioner at loggerheads on civic symbol Friday, April 13, 2001

RAJKOT: Mayor Ashok Dangar and municipal commissioner Ashok Dangar seems to have come to a loggerhead on the issue of the change of civic symbol. The standing committee of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation has already passed the new symbol unanimously.

In a letter to the commissioner, the mayor has said that the officers of the civic body must implement the new symbol and that there should not be any hindrance in use of the new symbol. On the other hand the commissioner has sent the new symbol to the state government for its clearance. This has already led to a confrontation between the two heads of the civic body.

The tug of war between the mayor and the commissioner had left the officers in a state of indecisiveness as they would antagonise either of the two superiors. However a senior official of the legal department in the civic body told TOINS on Thursday that till the government does not give the necessary administrative clearance, the resolution passed by the standing committee could not be implemented.

On the other hand the Mayor has in an official statement said that the resolution passed by the standing committee at its meeting on March 27 had got to be implemented without any delay. The old symbol had a lotus which was also the official symbol of the BJP and the mayor had changed it a two white pigeons facing each other.

The symbol has been changed on the official letter pad of the Mayor and incidentally the memorandum submitted to the chief minister during his last visit to Rajkot was also on the changed letter pad. When contacted the Mayor said that when the resolution was passed unanimously, the commissioner has got to implement it with out any fuss.

The leader of the opposition Mr Lalubhai Parekh said " it was an unjust decision by the Mayor to start using the new symbol when no official clearance was given by the government. Mr Parekh said that there were chances that the government may not accept the new symbol at all and hence the mayor could have waited for the official clearance.

The mayor;s decision would also lead to financial loss as the old stationery was there which could last for three months and if the new was to be printed it would add to the expenses. The mayor also sought information on the amount of stationery left with the civic body which includes forms, files letter heads and other material.

Earlier the mayor had agreed to first use up the old stationer any they go in for a new one with the changed symbol but suddenly he had changed his mind. On the other and the commissioner was keen to wait till he gets the official nod from the bosses in Gandhinagar.

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SOMA hails court verdict on edible oil Friday, April 13, 2001

RAJKOT: The Saurashtra Oil Millers Association (SOMA) president Ukabhai Patel and other mill owners have welcomed the High Court verdict striking down the licence system introduced by the state government.

The verdict, he said would benefit not only one lakh oil millers in the entire Saurashtra region, but would also benefit the groundnut growers in the region. In a statement on Thursday, Patel said with the striking down of the licensing system, the oil millers would have a level playing field. Even a small trader would now be ready to deal in groundnut oil.

The SOMA president said states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi had abolished the licence system way back in 1998 and the Andhra Pradesh government had done away with the system in 1999. The oil trade in these states had not been affected by this, Patel said.

Patel said the high court order was a slap on the face of civil supplies department officials. Another oil miller Himat Anadkat, however, voiced fears that lifting of the licence system may make way for wrong practices.

He advocated free trade in groundnut oil but with some government control at the same time.

Samir Shah, another oil miller said they were forced to lodge a complaint against civil supplies staff as they used to harass the oil millers.

President of the Seeds, Oil and Bullion Merchants Association Haribhai Patel said that with the court order, oil trade being carried out in connivance with corrupt civil supplies officials, would come to an end.

The licence system which was hampering the free trade in groundnut would now flourish, he said.

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Unrest over water issue growing Friday, April 13, 2001

RAJKOT: *Bandh in Liliya for inadequate water supply

*Chakka jam in Babra to press for more water

*Lathi-charge in Dhoraji to scare away agitationists

*Indefinite fast by residents of Paliyad

These are the first signs of growing restlessness against state and district administration in Saurashtra region for its inability to distribute drinking water to people. And these may take a turn for worse if immediate solution is not found to the water issue.

Unfortunately the state government has been unable to provide a suitable solution for the same. Even though Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel is going round the region claiming that the BJP government has been successful in bringing Narmada waters to the parched lands, in reality the waters have not been able to quench the thirst of even one-third of the people.

The people's anger is directed towards their local elected representatives and many towns and villages have declared them persona non grata.

Narmada waters have been provided to major towns like Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Amreli but the people of thousands of small towns and villages continue to make walk miles to fetch a pot of water. According to district collectors and corporation officials of these three districts, waters have not yet reached in the quantum promised. The mere trickle does not help in the distribution process leaving all dissatisfied.

The water shortage has led to law and order problems in most areas of the region. People give vent to their feelings by stoning the mamlatdar's office or calling for chakka jam or indefinite fasts.

Till the agitation is on, authorities assure residents that water would be supplied within the next three days but once it is called off, water supply stops too.

The situation is so grim that local leaders and staff of various administrative offices and members of water works committee feel unsafe in their own offices. They fear attacks from mobs anytime on water issue. The local police too keeps its fingers crossed each day as not a day passes without a hitch.

Last year the situation was such that political parties used to lead agitations and morchas, but this year people themselves have come out on streets, as the situation is so desperate. Undoubtedly they are not to be blamed for their restlessness as the district administration is unable to supply water even once in five days. In areas like Dhoraji, Upleta and others, water is reportedly supplied twice a month.

Peoples patience have been stretched to limits and agitations have been spreading like wild fire. The situation is not only grim but also a source of concern to the local and district authorities. Most collectors contacted by this correspondent said that they have already sent an SOS to the state government on the water issue. But they have been told to hold fort for some time. The government meanwhile continues to remain silent on the issue.

The hype created on Narmada waters has proved to be too shortlived as the waters have been unable to quench the thirst of people and cool the frayed tempers of citizens of Saurashtra.

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Police nab Chhota Rajan aide Friday, April 13, 2001

VADODARA: City police detection of crime branch has arrested one Raju alias Kishore Sonar through a transfer warrant. Sonar is suspected to have been actively involved with Chhota Rajan gang of Mumbai between 1997 and 2000 and was notorious for highway robberies.

Sonar was arrested by Surat police from his residence in Surbhai Apartments in Surat. He was handed over to city police here because of his involvement in a Rs 2.86-lakh theft case in Bajwa. On December 12, 2000, a complaint was filed against Sonar for stealing a consignment of medicines from a go down in Bajwa.

DCB's interrogation has also revealed that Sonar was arrested in a Rs 15 lakh loot case in Bharuch. "He specialised in highway robberies. His modus operandi was to scout the highways for a loaded truck, intercept it, beat up the driver and cleaner and flee with the truck. He also lifted shutters of godowns on the highways and sold the booty in Ahmedabad and Mumbai markets," said a DCB police sub inspector.

Sonar was produced in court on Wednesday. He has been remanded for 12 days.

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Gujarat may get another $300 mn as quake relief Friday, April 13, 2001

ANAND: Gujarat is likely to receive a further assistance of around $300 million from the World Bank.

"Within five to six months, we should be able to provide new credit of roughly $300 million," World Bank vice-president for South Asia region Mieko Nishimizu told newsmen here on Thursday.

Though Nishimuzu refused to divulge the amount of the final loan package, she hinted that "it's going to be large."

She was here to address the twentieth annual convocation of the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA).

"The grand total of loan we have already provided India and the new loans we hope to give, comes to something like $1 billion or so. However, this is a small amount compared to the massive relief work required to be put in," said Nishimizu.

"When we assist a project like earthquake relief, we see the quality of preparation. Here, it has been excellent. We will also have to consider that for first one or two months, the whole system was in a state of shock," she said.

"We are not the only financiers. The biggest financiers are the people, the tax-payers of India. External agencies like us can only come in to help," she added.

Not commenting on whether the loan amount would be handed over to the government or NGOs, Nishimizu said "it is the people and organisations that draw up projects. It's their work that we finance. We are working together.

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