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April 11, 2001 - April 11, 2001

Kerala to re-build a quake-hit village in Gujarat Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Thiruvananthapuram, April 10: Kerala government will re-build one of the earthquake-devastaed villages in Gujarat spending 80 million from Kerala Chief Minister's quake relief fund and the Gujarat government contributing a matching amount.
Chief Minister E K Nayanar told a cabinet briefing on Tuesday that details of the proposal would be worked out by the state earthquake monitoring committee in consultation with the Gujarat government.

The CM's quake relief fund had netted Rs 79.4 million and the state had released Rs 20 million shortly after the quake.

The proposal was to re-build all houses, government schools and hospitals in a quake ravaged village.The village to benefit from Kerala's gesture is yet to be identfied, he added.

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Encroachments, footpaths cause inconvenience to residents Wednesday, April 11, 2001

VADODARA: Located in the heart of the city, Pathargate's woes originate from the main road that runs across the area. It's one of the busy roads with city buses, four-wheelers and two-wheelers cramping it day in and out. Shopkeepers, hawkers and rickshaw drivers encroach upon the footpath, spilling over onto the road.

'Bhajiya', 'chai', fruit and other stall owners, who have encroached upon roads and footpath at Pathargate do good business and they have refused requests from the Vadodara Municipal Corporation's (VMC) encroachment department to vacate the area. It is alleged that shopkeepers and rickshaw drivers who encroach upon the area bribe authorities or use political influence to ensure that their business runs smoothly.

And along with the problem of encroachment is traffic congestion and chaos. Compared to the flow of vehicle in the area, the roads are narrow. "There is heavy traffic throughout the day. During peak hours it's difficult for a person to even cross roads," complains a resident Ravilal Parikh.

"Those coming to Nyay Mandir often park their vehicles in the area, if they are not able to find a parking space," said Satish Shah, another resident.

Not only this, hawkers and rickshaw drivers take up half of the space on these roads. Despite a footpath there no space for people to walk on. "Even shopkeepers are a nuisance for residents and commuters. Most of them have encroached upon the footpath and roads near their shops. Some shopkeepers purposefully lay their wares on footpaths to attract customers," says a resident on condition of anonymity.

It's difficult for a person to even walk on the overcrowded footpath. "Complaints to the traffic policemen and the VMC encroachment department have not yielded any results," says a shopkeeper.

Besides this, air and noise pollution and accidents also plague the area. Some roads in the area have not been repaired since long. "Accidents have become almost a regular occurrence here. Though we have tried to draw attention of the authorities, no one has cared to look into our request," says a resident Manish Vyas.

He says accidents have increased despite presence of traffic policemen. "Unfortunately the traffic policemen in the area are not strict, and, so, those who break law and drive recklessly go scot-free," he adds.

People complain that traffic policemen have also failed to take any action against rickshaw drivers who encroach on the road and footpath. Nor do they punish those who don't follow traffic rules. "Accidents are frequent, but as people don't want to get into trouble with the police, they make up and part ways," say residents.

"Due to constant flow of traffic, there is noise and air pollution. One can't stand in the open for long. Summers are really bad here. Add to congestion and pollution, the scorching heat which is unbearable," says Mahesh Dwivedi.

Besides, like the rest of the city, the residents here also complain of water crisis. In some areas, the residents don't get water regularly from the VMC water pipeline. "Scarcity of water is and has always been a major problem in the area. Residents of some area get water regularly while others don't," complain residents.

"Pathargate has seen lot of changes in the last few years. From a completely calm and serene residential area to an area adorned with shops, constant flow of vehicles and noise population, Pathargate in the present scenario is one of the worst residential areas," says a resident on condition of anonymity.

Local Hero: Kamlesh Sharma

Kamlesh Sharma believes that he should always do something, however, small, so that people can live a better and happier life. From helping people to get jobs to lending money to start business, to serving food to the poor, to taking the ill to the hospital and, if need be, arranging for a blood donor and even paying their medical bills, he does them all.

He not only helps people to get jobs but if need be he even gives them work at his office till they are able to find another job. He also lends them money if they wish to set up a business without charging any interest.

In case of an accident, he is the first to rush to the spot. He takes the victim to hospital in his vehicle. Sometimes, he even bears the hospital expenditure.

THE BUCK STOPS HERE:

BM Pardesi, Land and Estate Officer (encroachment), Vadodara Municipal Corporation

Pathargate residents complain that encroachments is a major problem here. Comment.

I agree. Hawkers, shopkeepers and auto-rickshaw drivers encroach upon roads and footpaths. Whenever we receive complaints regarding encroachment in the area, we send our men. But we have our limitations as we don't have adequate manpower or equipment.

Residents complain that the VMC encroachment department hardly pays heed to their complaints.

No. This allegation is baseless. Whenever possible we lift items and vehicles that are illegally parked on footpaths and roads. Unfortunately, most of the time the guilty escape scot-free by paying fine.

But shouldn't you conduct regular raids to stop such irregularities?

It's the ward office's responsibility to keep a check on such irregularities in their area. Only when they are unable to clear encroachments does the encroachment department interfere.

Hawkers and rickshaw drivers do not seem to heed warnings from VMC's encroachment department officials and continue their illegal business. Comment.

They are a nuisance to residents of the area and we try to ensure that they don't disturb the peace. But with more small-scale industries closing down, the number of hawkers and rickshaw drivers in the city has increased.

What steps can be taken to solve this problem?

The traffic department of the city police and VMC's encroachment department need to work in co-ordination. Since the traffic policemen are around the area most of the time, they should issue memos to those who encroach on roads and footpath. If they still continue to break the law then they should immediately inform the encroachment department.

BILLBOARD

OFFICES

Ward Office: 1

Ward Officer: Khoda Vasava

Ward Office Phone Number: 411473

POLICE STATION

Navapura Police Station: 422669

Police Inspector: JD Jhala

SERVICES

Emergency Gas Service: 344618

Gujarat Electricity Board: 332766

Fire Brigade: 343545

THUMBS UP

Hospitals, medical shops

Markets

THUMBS DOWN

Encroachment on footpath and roads

Traffic congestion

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DHORAJI :::: If water is life, lives are doomed in Dhoraji Wednesday, April 11, 2001

DHORAJI: It was 18 days ago that this town of one lakh population received water for the last time. The survival of all its residents since then has depended mainly on the mercy of the private water suppliers running all over the town on their rickshaws, chhakdos, push-carts, tractors and all other conceivable means.

No wonder then that twice, thousands of locals came out on the streets and gheraoed government offices demanding water. As a result there has been severe tension in the town.

Whether in households, markets, shops, temples, offices or anywhere in the town here water is the only subject that is being talked about and discussed.

Farmers who can't continue with their agricultural activities for want of water have started a new business - that of selling water. Some have modified their vehicles to double-up as water carriers, others have dug tube-wells in their parched dry agricultural lands.

Instead of reaping crops, they are drawing and selling water, either to private water dealers or to the Dhoraji municipality. In village Sankali near Dhoraji, a special sump has been built to collect water from the near-by bore wells.

The municipality has entered into an agreement with the farmers for providing water. Accordingly, special pipelines have been fitted between their tube wells and the sump. Water metres have been fitted on the pipeline to measure the quantity of water supplied by the farmer.

There are 23 such bores from which about 1.5 lakh litres of water is supplied per hour, several times in a day. However, power cuts and irregularity in power supply make it difficult for the farmers to pump out water and for the authorities to supply it in the city.

"The real problem in Dhoraji is that we don't have any chief officer in the municipality staying back. In the past eight months, at least half-a-dozen of them have come and gone. There is no one available in the municipality office. So if people have a problem they don't have anywhere to go," says well-known ground water recharging crusader Shamji Antala.

Earlier, Dhoraji used to get water from Fofal and Bhadar-II dams, but both of them have gone dry now. Water was stolen from Bhadar dam by farmers and industries, leaving the people thirsty.

Locals here are opposing the way Mahi waters are pumped from Gondal to Mewasa, as this drastically reduces the supply to Dhoraji due to low capacity pipeline.

While nearby Upleta and Jetpur towns don't have as severe a scarcity as Dhoraji, they too have a serious water problem. However, supplies from Moj and Mahi, respectively, help them remain better off compared to Dhoraji.

In Jamvali village near Gondal, which is in fact the state government's much-trumpeted Gokul Gram, the 3,000-odd residents received water for the last time on Diwali. "We are forced to drink salty water and eat salty food prepared from it," complains Bhikhabhai Jadav. The villagers have been witness to the construction of a sump to facilitate Mahi water supply in their village. Though the pipeline passes from their village and the sump is ready, they are yet to get water.

In Gondal, water is supplied once a week, notwithstanding the Chief Minister's programme and announcements about regular water supply from Mahi-Narmada pipeline, which he inaugurated there.

Rasilaben, a resident of Yogijinagar area, complains that the water is full of 'malodour' and has worms in it. "We don't know how to use it. It could be from Narmada, but it is not potable," she says.

The government might have succeeded in installing the pipeline and bringing Narmada water to Saurashtra, but the fact on the ground is that few people know that it is Narmada water. Most know it as a Mahi water, and its supply and quality leave much to be desired.

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GANDHIDHAM :::: GDA begins approving building plans Wednesday, April 11, 2001

GANDHIDHAM: The Gandhidham Development Authority (GDA) has started granting permission for construction activity in the Gandhidham Adipur complex, which had suspended for two months in the wake of the quake.

Armed with the orders of the state government it has also begun approving building plans. GDA sources said the action was to speed up development work before monsoon.

GDA records seized after the quake have now been released. These are required for reference while passing the new construction plans.

Gandhidham falls under seismic zone 5 and the rules and regulations the government proposes to implement for the zone are already in force in the GDA. Some amendments like compulsory soil testing, inspection at various stages, approval of design by structural engineers etc. will be implemented after approval by the GDA board.

The GDA board has not been constituted for the last three years and the political appointments of the chairman and members have also not been made.

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Ambuja starts masons' training programme Wednesday, April 11, 2001

BHACHAU(Kutch): Speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, Dhirubhai Shah, inaugurated the Ambuja masons' training programme near Bhachau last week. Also present were V K Neotia, R J Kampani and J P Desai of Ambuja.

The mason's training programme aims to train local people in large numbers for rebuilding Kutch and other affected areas. This exercise will also generate local employment and provide career opportunities to the local populace.

Ambuja has commenced a one-month programme to teach basic masonry skills to laymen from local areas. Already a project to conduct 25 camps for training 1000 masons has been kicked off. For this purpose, the company has set up a special cell of its senior engineers. Two engineers with about 20 years experience in construction and training are at the helm. Besides, five senior company engineers will take theoretical classes and provide guidance to the trainees. The course places emphasis on practical experience and therefore includes 25 master masons to provide field training.

Each batch will have a maximum of 20 trainees and will be of a duration of four weeks covering topics like raw materials used in construction, tools and equipment, elementary concrete block masonry for superstructure, earthquake resistant construction, pointing and plastering, flooring, concrete block manufacturing etc.

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