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April 5, 2001 - April 5, 2001

RBI seeks suitor to bail out Madhavpura Thursday, April 5, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Even as it handed over the inspection report of the Madhavpura Bank to the CBI, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is trying to cajole cooperative banks in Gujarat to see if they can take over Madhavpura Bank.

In response to the RBI effort, one co-operative bank on Wednesday offered to "bail out distressed depositors" of Madhavpura, but set conditions that the central bank may find difficult to grant.

The RBI meanwhile announced "special liquidity support" to cooperative banks in Gujarat on Wednesday. As per this, RBI would extend loans to these banks against government securities up to a period of ninety days. The cooperative banks have also been permitted to approach public sector banks for this purpose. RBI expects that it would have to infuse around Rs 200 crore for bailing out Gujarat's beleaguered cooperative banks.

With the report that suggests that deposits over Rs 1,100 crore were diverted by Madhavpura's management--are now in the hands of CBI, arrests in are likely in the next few days.

Without a suitor, sources in the central bank said, there would be no other option but to "liquidate" Madhavpura Bank. Liquidation could lead to many small district cooperative bank going under. These banks had parked money with Madhavpura. Other losers would be many small investors, religious and other trusts and also traders. For this reason, the Gujarat government is also not in favour of liquidation and wants to prevent it at all costs.

Talking to The Times Of India, the chairman of the Rs 269-crore Nutan Nagarik Sahkari Bank, Parthiv Adhyaru said that his bank would come to the aid of the depositors of the Madhavpura, if the state government "arranges for the misappropriated money" and the RBI allows special reliefs and operational autonomies in its function. "But we are not going in for a take-over or a merger," Adhyaru said.

"The money should provided free of interest towards the rejuvenation of Madhavpura with a moratorium of ten years," said Adhyaru.

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Unimaginable tragedy: Clinton Thursday, April 5, 2001

BHUJ/ANJAR: Former US president Bill Clinton, who said he had come to ``look, listen and learn'', admitted on Wednesday that the destruction in Gujarat was much more than what he had imagined. "I have followed this earthquake on television, but when I came here I realised that this is something unimaginable, almost incomprehensible," he said.

The Clinton visit started an hour late. Arriving at the Bhuj airport, he drove down straight to Ratnal where over 200 people had died and 98 per cent of the buildings were destroyed. Flanked by US Secret Service personnel and district police officers, Clinton met Chhaya, a survivor of the Anjar school tragedy.

"They are courageous people who have withstood such devastation and I am here to see how I can help them. The rest of the world will have to come to Kutch now to restore the lives of these people," he told reporters.

In Anjar, Clinton walked down the road where 200 children, marching in a Republic Day parade, had perished in the earthquake. Flanked by a couple of surviving children, the principal and teacher of the school, Clinton then laid flowers on a small memorial.

On the way back to Bhuj, he stopped at Dhaneti village to visit a tented camp site. In Bhuj, Clinton visited the massive Red Cross rehabilitation centre in the college ground complex, and then the Jubilee hospital where he addressed the Press and the people.

He said he had plans to collect several million dollars to help rebuild houses, hospitals and schools and give jobs to the affected people. "Until all the villages are rebuilt and all children have schools to go to, our partnership which has begun today, should last," he said.

He said: "So many people have done some wonderful work here after the earthquake. It is an honour to be here with 40 people of Indian-origin who have done well in America. Before coming here, I had a talk with Prime Minister Vajpayee and he told me that the whole world came to the rescue of the quake-hit people and now there is need for long-term rehabilitation.

"So, I am here to find out how we can make houses, hospitals, schools, drinking water systems and how best we can help. When I was here the last time, I had decided to return to this fascinating country but had never imagined it would be so soon. This sad event has brought me here, and we can now be partners and work together to see that all the people in all the affected villages get rehabilitated."

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I'm trying to be useful: Clinton Thursday, April 5, 2001

Former US president Bill Clinton said on Wednesday by visiting quake-ravaged Kutch, he was only 'trying to be useful'.
"I don't know. I am just trying to be useful at a place I care about," Clinton told reporters when asked whether he had assumed the role of a goodwill ambassador after relinquishing presidency.

Clinton recalled that Vajpayee had told him that the world was coming to help India following the earthquake but 'once it is over, there would be the task of rebuilding'.

The former American president also termed as 'wonderful' the relief and rehabilitation work being carried out by Indian and international agencies, which responded to the tragedy.

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Clinton promises focussed action plan Thursday, April 5, 2001

Storming quake-hit Kutch and sharing the people's grief, former US president Bill Clinton on Wednesday promised a focussed action plan incorporating education and employment opportunities to rebuild the region.

The US-based American India Foundation, which was formed to help out the victims of the Gujarat quake, is organising Clinton's visit.

Cheering crowds greeted Clinton wherever he went, amid expectations that the visit would boost relief efforts.

"We thought we should meet people on the ground and decide whether to have a macro approach or to build schools and houses," said Clinton, who is accompanied by a 40-member delegation of influential US-based NRIs.

The former president who has brought with him keys to a $50 million fund put together by the American India Foundation to help quake victims visited Anjaar and Ratnal, a village completely devastated by the quake.

Holding hands of two survivors, he laid flowers at the spot in Anjaar where about 150 children participating in a Republic Day parade were buried alive when the buildings along the narrow lane in which they were walking collapsed on them.

About 3,000 people watched Clinton as he bowed his head for a moment in memory of those who perished.

Clinton went around the rubble-strewn streets of Bhuj, Ratnal and Anjaar, holding out his hands to children and others during his whirlwind five-hour tour of Kutch.

Addressing reporters in the premises of the quake-hit Jubilee Hospital in Bhuj, Clinton said lots of money raised for several causes all over the world, including the USA, was not spent 'very well'.

Clinton has said the American India Foundation fund will be used for short and long-term reconstruction in Gujarat, with the foundation working in collaboration with selected aid agencies.

"We have raised several million dollars. We intend to do more. I would like to help the people face their loss. We will continue to raise funds," he said.

He said that he would be talking to several NGOs to come out with a focussed plan aimed at among other things providing education to children and employment to the jobless.

Asked if he planned to adopt villages as was widely expected, he said he had come to 'look, listen and learn' and then chart out a programme to help the victims of the January 26 quake.

Recalling his visit to India as US president last year, he said, "I will never forget it. I have always wanted to come back but this sad event has brought me back earlier than expected."

Before leaving, he waved to the crowd and shouted, "I will be coming back to India."

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Big Bill has beleaguered Kutchis in rhapsody Thursday, April 5, 2001

BHUJ/ANJAR: Television images can be deceptive, not portraying life in its true colours. Bill Clinton, his face looking tomato red due in the unsparing desert Sun, had a close encounter on Wednesday with the Kutch countryside that was devastated by the January 26 earthquake.

And the former US president, who said he had come to "look, listen and learn", also admitted that the destruction was much more than what he had imagined.

"I have followed this earthquake on television, but when I came here I realised that this is something unimaginable, almost incomprehensible," he said, moments after taking a walk down the Anjar street where 200 children marching for the Republic Day parade had perished.

The swarming crowds applauded every bit of what he had to say, even though they may not have understood much of what was being said.

Clinton, dressed in a parrot green shirt and brown trousers, later addressing the media and the people at the now collapsed Jubilee Hospital in Bhuj said that he had plans to collect several million dollars to help rebuild houses, hospitals and schools and give jobs to the affected people.

"Till all the villages are rebuilt, all children have schools to go to, our partnership which has begun today should last.''

The Clinton visit started late by an hour to begin with. Arriving at the Bhuj airport, he drove down straight to Ratnal where over 200 people died and 98 per cent of the buildings were destroyed. Flanked by US Secret Service sleuths and a sprinkling of district police officials, Clinton met Chhaya a survivor of the Anjar school tragedy.

"They are courageous people who have withstood such a devastation and I am here to see how I can help them. The rest of the world will now have to come to Kutch to restore the lives of these people," he told reporters.

The cavalcade of Astras, Land Cruisers, police jeeps and Ambassadors then zoomed through the searing afternoon desert road to Anjar, where Clinton took a stroll down the road on which 200 school children had died.

Flanked by a couple of surviving children, principal and a teacher of the school, Clinton then laid flowers on the small brick and mortar platform built as a memorial.

Clinton's motorcade, with he himself travelling in a Cherokee Jeep, blazed out of Anjar to return to Bhuj and on the way stopped at Dhaneti village to visit a tented camp site.

Onwards to Bhuj, Clinton visited the massive Red Cross rehabilitation centre in the college ground complex and then went to the 180-year-old Jubilee hospital to address the press and some 3,000 people.

He said, "So many people have done some wonderful work here after the earthquake. It is an honour to be here with 40 people of Indian origin who have done well in America.

"Before coming here I had a talk with Prime Minister Vajpayee and he told me that the whole world came to rescue the people during the quake and now there is need for long-term rehabilitation.

"So I am here to find out how we can make houses, hospitals, schools, drinking water systems and how best we can help. When I was here the last time, I had decided to return to this fascinating country, but I had not imagined I will be here so soon. This sad event has brought me here and we can now be partners and work together to see that all the people in all the affected villages get rehabilitated. People have jobs and houses and children have schools."

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