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April 11, 2001 - April 11, 2001

Jaundice, typhoid on the rise in the city. Wednesday, April 11, 2001

AHMEDABAD, 11th April:With the mercury rising, the number of jaundice, typhoid and dysentery cases in city has increased to over 108. Fifteen cases of diarrhea have been reported in Kubernagar ward in past 10 days.

Leakage in the drainage line has led to water contamination in this area but the corporation has yet to take any steps to remedy the situation, and residents of this ward get water by tankers.

According to the residents of Behrampura and Kubernagar, they had asked AMC authorities to look into the matter and clean the drainage line ten days ago. Rahimabegum, a resident of RamRahim tekra said, "We don’t have anyone to clean the premises. We have been complaining to the officials but no one listens." Arvind Parmar of Kubernagar said, "The sweepers do not come to clean the area till severe cases are reported."

Cases of dysentery and jaundice have been reported in various other parts of the city as well. Nine cases of dihorrhea and vomiting have been registered, of which four cases are in Shardaben, two cases are in L.G. Hospital and three cases have been admitted in Civil Hospital.

Two cases of jaundice have been reported at VS hospital and one case at Shardaben, LG, Civil and Infectious Disease hospital respectively. Thus, six new cases of Jaundice have been reported on Tuesday. Four new cases of typhoid, three at LG hospital and one at Civil Hospital have also been reported. According to statistics, every year almost ten thousand people are affected and many die due to water contamination in summer. In 1999, 5,403 cases of gastroenteritis were reported in summer at various hospitals in the city and seven people died.

Also, 68 cases of cholera and 1,157 cases of viral hepatitis were reported in the city. Total number of deaths due to viral hepatitis was three. There were 353 cases of typhoid and 14 cases of meningitis. However, there were no deaths due to typhoid.

In 2000, there were 1,200 cases of gastroenteritis with five deaths. Also, within a span of one month, 39 cases of cholera and 52 cases of viral hepatitis have been reported in the 2000.

Medical officer P.K. Makwana said, "The situation in the city is normal. We are taking adequate steps to control the situation." He added it is normal for a city like Ahmedabad to report these cases during the summer.

News Source - Asian Age

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New name for Ahmedabad - 'City of the count-down clocks' Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Ahmedabad will shortly be the first city in the country to have the largest number of countdown clocks installed at various traffic junctions.

Mr Samiullah Ansari, deputy commissioner of police (traffic) commenting on the installation of these clocks said, "Almost half of the existing traffic signals have been provided with the facility of count down clocks and that the remaining work would get accomplished in a few months."

Mr Ansari further said, "The city will soon have 120 count down clocks situated at 30 traffic junctions. As many as 60 count down clocks are already put up in various places in the city. According to the plan, 50 other clocks will be put up by the end of April.

The government is paying 40 per cent of the total cost and the rest is being borne by various private business houses who will get an opportunity to advertise their names on the back of the clocks.

Mr Ansari said that sponsorship has been incorporated from private players in order to activate the installation process and that the cost incurred in the installation and procurement of each clock is around Rs 33,000.

Mr Ansari elucidating about the underlying cause for installation of these clocks said, "The installation of these clocks will lead to pollution check, will save fuel and reduce stress to some extent. The drivers would now exactly know when to ignite their engine.

The clocks will also reduce other hassles associated with the traffic bandwagon. It will reduce cases of signal jumping, and accidents at junctions." The initially installed sound signals at various traffic junctions had to be removed, as it caused noise pollution to the near by residents.

The newly installed clocks are going to be an improvement to the existing ones. The clocks will have an overhead cover so that the lights can be visible even with the sun overhead, and the Light Illuminated Display will be 25 per cent more than the existing ones.

According to estimates, there will be a significant amount of fuel saved. In Ahmedabad there are about 12 lakhs vehicles and about 50 per cent are on the road everyday. If local commuters switch off their engines at junctions which have clocks for about one minutes per day that means it that about 10,000 hours of fuel is saved, according to Mr Ansari, which he said is a significant saving per day.

News Source - Asian Age

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Rights groups allege discrimination against quake victims Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Ahmedabad, Apr 11 - Human rights workers have now joined the bandwagon of critics who have been saying that some victims of the January 26 earthquake in Gujarat's Kutch district are being discriminated against.

"We have returned concerned at the disparity between the claims of the government and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the progress of relief and rehabilitation efforts which have framed the general public understanding of the matter and the realities with which we were met," Wilfred D'Costa of the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) told IANS.

D'Costa was part of a team of representatives of four social justice organizations -- the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), SAMVAD, the Samvedan Sanskritik Manch, and the Earthquake Affected Relief and Rehabilitation Services (EARRS) -- that toured many areas of Kutch and Saurashtra last week.

"Our assessment is based on our discussions with the earthquake-affected people, representatives of various NGOs and voluntary organizations, whether religious, developmental or secular, government representatives and workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)," D'Costa who is the secretary of INSAF, said.

Other members of the team were Radhika Desai, a political scientist and associate professor at the University of Victoria (Canada), Bina Jadhav of SAMVAD and Hiren Gandhi of the Samvedan Sanskrutik Manch.

Though the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (NCSCST) has denied reports of discrimination in earthquake relief and compensation distribution, the team members said they found a great deal of discrimination against the underprivileged sections of society and poor religious minorities.

Commission chairman Dilip Singh Bhuria attributed such reports to a lack of information between the state government and the victims. "There are cases where the victims are yet to turn up to collect their compensation," Bhuria had told reporters during a recent visit to the quake-affected areas of Gujarat.

However, rights workers had a different story to tell. "Most of them whom we talked to reported that they had received a cash dole and usually had received rations from the public distribution system (PDS) only once, and in quantities which could not support their families. And such food they had received was in many cases reported to be fit only for fodder," they said in their joint report that the EARRS released.

According to D'Costa, the distribution of relief on the basis of the possession of ration cards was a major instrument of discrimination as many of the poor people reported that for the last five years no new ration cards had been issued in their locality. Families that had separated upon marriage, for example, had only one ration card between them.

The minorities and the underprivileged in Bhachau sub-district of Kutch and Maliya sub-district of Rajkot had even organized protests and hunger strikes respectively to establish their minimum rights to relief, he pointed out.

Voluntarism has been another instrument of discrimination, they said. "Voluntary agencies with only some exceptions target certain castes and communities only as 'their own' and it is not difficult to see that it is the better off and the well to do who tend to belong to communities which may have such well-funded voluntary agencies among them," they said in their report.

"Things have come to a pass that all of this is being accepted without question and rationalized on the basis that 'we cannot expect anything other than that people will naturally help their own," D'Costa said.

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Rights groups allege discrimination against quake victims Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Ahmedabad, Apr 11 - Human rights workers have now joined the bandwagon of critics who have been saying that some victims of the January 26 earthquake in Gujarat's Kutch district are being discriminated against.

"We have returned concerned at the disparity between the claims of the government and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the progress of relief and rehabilitation efforts which have framed the general public understanding of the matter and the realities with which we were met," Wilfred D'Costa of the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) told IANS.

D'Costa was part of a team of representatives of four social justice organizations -- the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), SAMVAD, the Samvedan Sanskritik Manch, and the Earthquake Affected Relief and Rehabilitation Services (EARRS) -- that toured many areas of Kutch and Saurashtra last week.

"Our assessment is based on our discussions with the earthquake-affected people, representatives of various NGOs and voluntary organizations, whether religious, developmental or secular, government representatives and workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)," D'Costa who is the secretary of INSAF, said.

Other members of the team were Radhika Desai, a political scientist and associate professor at the University of Victoria (Canada), Bina Jadhav of SAMVAD and Hiren Gandhi of the Samvedan Sanskrutik Manch.

Though the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (NCSCST) has denied reports of discrimination in earthquake relief and compensation distribution, the team members said they found a great deal of discrimination against the underprivileged sections of society and poor religious minorities.

Commission chairman Dilip Singh Bhuria attributed such reports to a lack of information between the state government and the victims. "There are cases where the victims are yet to turn up to collect their compensation," Bhuria had told reporters during a recent visit to the quake-affected areas of Gujarat.

However, rights workers had a different story to tell. "Most of them whom we talked to reported that they had received a cash dole and usually had received rations from the public distribution system (PDS) only once, and in quantities which could not support their families. And such food they had received was in many cases reported to be fit only for fodder," they said in their joint report that the EARRS released.

According to D'Costa, the distribution of relief on the basis of the possession of ration cards was a major instrument of discrimination as many of the poor people reported that for the last five years no new ration cards had been issued in their locality. Families that had separated upon marriage, for example, had only one ration card between them.

The minorities and the underprivileged in Bhachau sub-district of Kutch and Maliya sub-district of Rajkot had even organized protests and hunger strikes respectively to establish their minimum rights to relief, he pointed out.

Voluntarism has been another instrument of discrimination, they said. "Voluntary agencies with only some exceptions target certain castes and communities only as 'their own' and it is not difficult to see that it is the better off and the well to do who tend to belong to communities which may have such well-funded voluntary agencies among them," they said in their report.

"Things have come to a pass that all of this is being accepted without question and rationalized on the basis that 'we cannot expect anything other than that people will naturally help their own," D'Costa said.

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Wireless in local loop will be launched by BSNL by this monthend. Wednesday, April 11, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A limited access mobile phone service, wireless in local loop (WLL), is being launched by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in Abmedabad from this monthend. The WLL will enable a subscriber to use his normal telephone as a mobile phone with the help of a handset within a 24-km radius in Ahmedabad.

BSNLs Gujarat Telecome Circle Chief General Manager P K Chanda’ said they are starting with a limited 13,000 connections. The BSNL's own cellular Mobile phone operations will be launched by December.

"The WLL is available in Railwaypura, Navrangpura: and Vastrapur exchanges. We will provide a handset to the subscriber besides a normal telephone, which will be attached to this. The handset, which can be charged and has a battery life of 24 hours can be carried around and you can use the phone attached to it to make or receive calls. Right now its access is limited because we have few communication towers but by the end of the year, we should be able to increase the range," Chanda said. The handset can be carried in a car or in a bag.

But the service-comes a little costly. The instrument deposit is Rs 10,000, which is refundable with an installation charge of Rs 800. There is a security deposit of Rs 3,000 plus registration charges of Rs 500. "But the call charges are just Rs 1.20per unit ie for three minutes. Though its range is limited, the low rate per call is the USP," Says Chanda.

The BSNL is also-launching another WLL mobile service, which has a 5-km radius only.

The good news for Internet users is that the BSNL is planning to slash rates to Rs. 500 per. 100 hours after its NIB mode is fully operationally shortly.

Briefing newspersons, Chanda said the BSNL overshot its target by 128 per cent, laying 608944 new telephone lines against a target of 474100 in 2000-2001.

"This- has taken the current telephone density of Gujatat to 4.87 per hundred persons which is the highest in the country with an overall growth rate of 24.8 per cent," Chanda Claimed.

Speaking about development plans for 2001-2002, Chanda said a target to provide 6.5 lakh new telephone connections has been fixed for the current financial year. " Out of this, 140,000 connections will be provided through cellular mobile technology and 13,000 connections through WLL."

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