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November 15, 2001 - November 15, 2001

No takers for deadline on cracker-bursting Thursday, November 15, 2001

RAJKOT: The Supreme Court directive banning the bursting of crackers between 10 pm and 6 am and restricting their noise level to 125 decibels seems to have no takers, at least in Rajkot. Both children and adults are seen bursting crackers far above the prescribed decibel level and timings.

Rajkot city reverberated with loud bangs of 'sutli' bombs and 'lakshmi tetas' almost till the wee hours of Wednesday. Leave aside the SC order, elders and children alike burst crackers right in the middle of the city's main thoroughfares.

V Parth, a 14-year-old boy, when asked whether he knew of the Supreme Court order on the timings replied in the negative. "Who cares for such an order. Diwali is a time for fun and frolic. If we do not burst crackers during Diwali when would we do it," he said.

Even 45-year-old Yagnesh Kotak argued saying, "The Supreme Court directive is ridiculous. People close their shops by 9 pm in Rajkot, come home by 9.30 pm and after dinner it's time to enjoy the festival of lights. No one would ever follow such a directive. It would be ideal for the Supreme Court not to issue orders which people would never follow."

Shamjibhai Varotariya, a firecracker dealer in the city, said, "It is children who usually ask for crackers that make maximum noise. Almost 60 per cent of the crackers sold are the noise-making ones, and this year the market is flooded with such stuff. In such a scenario who would heed the Supreme Court directive."

When contacted, city police commissioner Sudhir Sinha said, "As no central directive was received so far, no action was initiated at the local level except for the normal precautionary measures. However, if anyone is found breaching the normal measures they would be prosecuted."

The police has, however, swooped down on firecracker dealers operating without procuring proper licences from the fire department. So far about 18 such cases have been registered against them.

As many as nine cases of fire were also reported from the city till Tuesday midnight, fire department officials said.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Rayon factory workers go on strike Thursday, November 15, 2001

RAJKOT: Nearly 5,000 workers at the Indian Rayon factory in Veraval went on a day's strike on Wednesday on the issue of bonus.

The workers sat on dharna in front of the management office, paralysing the work. A report from Veraval said that the workers would go on fast till the issue was resolved. However, efforts to contact the management proved futile.

The units which were closed included textiles, packaging, after treatment and viscose production. The daily production loss was put around Rs 45 lakh.

The three unions were demanding 20 per cent bonus while the management was ready to give only the customary 8.33 per cent.

Meanwhile, the management of Gujarat Heavy Chemicals at Sutrapada has announced 20 per cent bonus.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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National legal services week celebrated Thursday, November 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Many legal literacy camps to inform the people of their legal rights and Lok Adalats for fast and consensual disposal of cases were held all over the state by the Gujarat State Legal Services Authority.

Marking the National Legal Literacy Week celebrations, 549 Adalats were held between November 3 and 9 and 33,953 cases were dealt with and 19,345 cases were disposed off.

In all, 35 Lok Adalats were held for the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, where 811 cases were dealt with and 686 were settled. A compensation of Rs 3.97 crore was awarded.

Legal Literacy Camps were organised in 17 districts at 7,621 towns and villages. Vadodara district had the highest number of camps _3,425.

The authority held 18,988 Lok Adalats in the state since its inception in 1997, and took up over 15 lakh cases, of which 13 lakh have been settled.

Meanwhile, a special issue of the 'Nyayapath', a mouthpiece of the authority, was released here in a programme inaugurated by Governor Sundar Singh Bhandari and attended by judges of various courts.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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They long for some 'donor' gifting them firecrackers Thursday, November 15, 2001

VADODARA: It is a home full of stories, mostly sad. Stories of children abandoned, orphaned, lost and homeless. Children who don't have parents to hold the 'taramandal' sticks, or take them in their arms and plant a kiss on their foreheads.

As another Diwali knocks on the doors of Boys Observation Home (BOH) in Karelibaug, for the children here it is still dark.

With sparkling eyes, boyish grins and naughty smiles on their innocent faces, they keep wondering what makes them different from those living in flats, sleeping in warm beds and sharing ice-creams with parents. Why one has everything and the other nothing. There are no answers. Only questions.

"I like firecrackers and sweets. On Diwali, we too will have firecrackers. Master says some 'party' will come and donate us crackers and sweets," says Veersingh. He does not remember his age _ 10, may be 13. Veersingh's father was jailed for killing his wife, got released but has not come back to take him. All these years, Veersingh has celebrated Diwali either in Nari Savrankshan Gruh or Boys Observation home.

"I don't have a mother. I don't remember my father," says Ismael. His father made a living by begging on Pune railway station. Ismael was found crying for food at Vadodara railway station.

Iswar Waghela (10) was abandoned by his parents. He grazed cattle in his village in Jambusar and got some leftover food in return. One day, even leftovers were not thrown at him. He was famished, sleepless and with bruises on his body. "I have no one to remember," he says sadly. Eleven-year-old Daulat Singh, however, remembers his mother. "We did not have a house. My mother worked as a maid. We lived on the railway station. I miss my mother. I don't want crackers, I want my mother," Daulat says with tears in his eyes.

Babu Kamalprasad (6), Gulab Gohil (6) and Naresh Prajapati (13) remain silent most of the time. They like Diwali and wish they could have been with their parents, who are now behind bars.

"I used to polish boots, worked in a hotel, picked up rags and even begged at times," says 13-year-old Rajesh Sharma. He belongs to Bhopal and had ran away from his house after receiving a scolding from his parents. "I came to Vadodara railway station and did odd jobs. Every day I managed to get some food," he says proudly. "I also got food for my friend Shankar," he adds. Shankar, a 10-year-old orphan from a village in Surat agrees, "...but now I want to go home and celebrate Diwali with my parents. I remember my mother, how she performed 'puja' on every Diwali and gave us sweets," Rajesh says. He expects his parents would come and take him, unaware of the fact that there has been no response from them despite repeated reminders from the Boys Observation Home here.

"They are extraordinary boys, and smart. It is only that they are unfortunate," says Achala Jani who has been teaching boys at BOH for last 20 years. She says that stories of many boys have a happy ending. "There are cases when parents come and take back their lost boys. The other time when the boys are happy is when some donor donates gifts, sweets and firecrackers during Diwali," Jani says. "We try to make them happy. But parents are parents and a home is a home," says BOH in-charge C N Rathod.

Children at Boys Observation Home in Karelibaug celebrate Diwali.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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State govt to review use of allotted land Thursday, November 15, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: In a major policy decision, the state government has decided to review the use of land for the purpose it was allotted to check the alleged irregularities committed in changing the purpose for which the land was sanctioned.

Minister of state for revenue Haren Pandya told mediapersons here on Monday that district collectors had been asked to conduct a survey of the allocations made by the government for various purposes like industrial, commercial, religious and community welfare in past 10 years.

The collectors have been asked to submit their reports in three- four months so that the government could take punitive action against those who have illegally changed the purpose of the land they were allotted for. It has been found that some organisations which were allotted government land for plantation of saplings had used it for commercial purpose. Pandya warned that the government would not spare those guilty of irregularities on the basis of the findings of the report.

The minister said the government had already stopped increment of three class I officers for their alleged involvement in murky deals, mainly in changing the purpose of use of land.

Acting on a tip-off received by senior revenue officials, the state government has placed seven officials, including mamlatdars and deputy mamlatdars, for their alleged involvement in such irregularities. They are J N Garasiya, V G Vasava, A J Bhatt, M H Chaddi, K R Patel.

Pandya said the special cell set up in revenue department had so far received as many as 80 complaints of irregularities against officials and lower staff for conniving with land brokers and real estate developers. The details of these complaints were being studied by a team of officials, and punitive action would be taken after required evidences was received.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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