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March 30, 2001 - March 30, 2001

Govt flayed for failing to stand by farmers Friday, March 30, 2001

RAJKOT: The kisan sammelan at Amreli turned out to be a government-bashing event as speaker after speaker blasted the government for its failure to stand by farmers in their difficult times. The rally decried the anti-farmer policies adopted by the state government and blasted the chief minister for calling himself a dharti putra (son of the soil).

Saying that the chief minister's actions were quite contradictory, members of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh on Wednesday demanded that their 14 point charter of demand be taken up immediately. They also submitted a memorandum to the collector.

Prafulbhai Senjaliya, president of the Kisan Sangh said farmers wanted balance of the crop insurance money to be paid as soon as possible. Farmers also wanted metres installed in their fields by the GEB removed.

Organising secretary of the Sangh for Saurashtra, Pravin Vadodariya said farmers had given time to the state government upto April 15 to pay up the crop insurance money, failing which they would take out a rally at Gandhinagar on May 4 and stage demonstrations in front of the Assembly.

Pradesh general secretary of the Sangh, Ramesh Chaudhary threatened that if GEB failed to remove meters from the fields of farmers, they would not be responsible for action taken against GEB officials. He said 11 farmers had so far laid down their lives on the issue.

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Gujarati community in US awaits Clinton's visit Friday, March 30, 2001

Nearly a month after the Silicon Valley fundraiser at which Bill Clinton showed his enthusiasm and promised support for the earthquake-stricken areas of Gujarat, the former President will be among a group of businesspeople and doctors who will visit India next week to assess the damage.

"This visit will launch the India Foundation," a spokesperson for the American India Foundation said. Clinton will be in India from April 1 to 10.

At a New York fundraiser in late February, Clinton helped launch the AIF, which has been raising money for the quake victims. He also serves on its board.

The AIF has set a $ 100 million as its goal for relief to the Indian state, where more than 30,000 people died and a million people have been rendered homeless after the January 26 quake.

The India Foundation will be a spin-off of AIF, the spokesperson said. It will primarily be used by other countries to assist Gujarat, he added.

Clinton's 10-day trip will also allow NGOs such as Calcutta's Missionaries of Charity to evaluate and see how the United Community Appeal could work with it in rebuilding Gujarat.

This will be Clinton's first visit to India since his historic journey last March. The UCA is the umbrella organization for almost 40 San Francisco Bay Area organizations that assist the Gujarat earthquake relief effort. Its goal is to raise $ 25 million for the quake victims.

Among the organizations who are part of UCA are The IndUS Entrepreneurs, BAPS-Care International and Federation of Indian Associations.

Accompanying Clinton on the journey to India are numerous businesspeople from the East and West coasts. Kailash Joshi, TiE president; Lata Krishnan, who heads the UCA effort; angel investor Paul Gupta and TiE administrator Raj Desai represent TiE. A team of 16 doctors from Stanford University will be part of the 30-strong group.

"These doctors are mostly surgeons who will perform critical operations," the AIF spokesperson said. "They will have $ 250,000 worth of medical equipment to donate to the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad."

The significance of the visiting doctors cannot be underestimated, the spokesperson said. Many of them will allow local doctors to observe and assist during surgery.

The UCA has raised more than $ 15 million in medical equipment, donations and pledges, according to Desai. Almost $ 2 million was raised at the Silicon Valley event that featured rapper M C Hammer, actress-activist Shabana Azmi and writer Dr Deepak Chopra.

With the buzz around the visit, BAPS-Care volunteer Harshad Shah says he will take a wait-and-watch approach on the progress of Clinton's efforts. "He has shown the willingness to help and that's good," Shah said. "But I still want to see what he does and his plans. His intentions are genuine since he promised Prime Minister Vajpayee that he would help."

BAPS-Care has adopted 10 villages in Gujarat where 2,000 homes will be built. Six villages have already had their ground-breaking ceremonies, Shah said. The organization will also help build a hospital with modern facilities in Bhuj, the epicenter of the quake.

Related News
'Clinton eager to meet quake victims'
Clinton to visit to A'bad, Kutch on April 4,5

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'Clinton eager to meet quake victims' Friday, March 30, 2001

"Bill Clinton is eager to meet quake victims. He wants to meet as many of them as possible," Mike Patel told rediff.com talking about the former US president's proposed visit to Gujarat in the first week of April.

Mike Patel is one of the founders of the American India Foundation, which was formed to help out the victims of the Gujarat quake.

He is also commissioner of the Presidential Advisory Commission to improve the quality of life of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

He arrived in Gandhinagar on Wednesday from the US to give final touches to the details of Clinton's Kutch visit on April five.

"We're flying to Bhuj along with his security team on Thursday and will drive around the affected areas of Kutch in preparation to his visit," Patel said.

Prominent Indian Americans like Dr Kiran Patel, H R Shah, Anita Gupta, Sudhir Parikh and Dr Bhupi Patel are expected to accompany Clinton on his Kutch visit.

According to Raju Bhatt, India-based co-ordinator of the foundation, "AIF is an umbrella organisation of various US-based organisations who want to help the quake victims in Kutch."

Clinton will arrive in Bombay on April 3 where he will be hosted by Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance Industries Limited. Bhatt told rediff.com that this part of the visit would be a private one.

He will fly to Gandhinagar on April 4.

On his arrival, he will meet Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and later representatives of non-government organisations. He will visit Bhuj on April 5 and, in the evening, address a press conference in Gandhinagar.

In the press conference, Clinton is expected to announce an aid package for 40 villages in Kutch on behalf of the AIF, which has already collected $20 million through various programmes in six cities in the US and expects to collect another $30 million for quake relief.

According to sources in Gandhinagar, Clinton will be treated like a state guest by the Gujarat government.

Clinton will stay in the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay and at the Taj Residency in Ahmedabad.

Yogesh Desai, Director of Corporate Communications at RIL told rediff.com, "Though Clinton's programme in Bombay is yet to be finalised, we have been getting calls requesting for invitations to join the dinner with Clinton."

Source-Rediff.com

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Bhuj residents begin fast over rehab issue Friday, March 30, 2001

RAJKOT: Several members of the Bhuj Punah Sthapan (rehabilitation) Samiti, an organisation of Bhuj residents, have begun a relay fast against state government's failure in fulfilling promises made to quake-affected people on their rehabilitation.

Twenty-four members of the samiti began their fast on Thursday led by Ratnakar Dholakia.

Every day, a batch of samiti members will undertake fast to highlight problems faced by the quake-affected people. Even those not associated with the samiti have decided to join the relay fast every day, according to Rahematullah Jamadar, leader of the samiti.

Jamadar told TOINS that the residents had not received anything except tall promises on their rehabilitation. He alleged that not a single rehabilitation scheme had been implemented by authorities even as people continued to suffer in scorching heat. Most rehabilitation schemes have remained on paper, Jamadar alleged.

The leader of the Opposition in Bhuj nagarpalika, Faki Mahammad Kumbhar also visited the fasting leaders on Thursday and extended support to the agitation.

Meanwhile, the samiti in a statement said their organisation was a non-political one and its only aim was to force the state government to see reason and act fast on the proposed rehabilitation package. The samiti said the government must also distribute financial assistance to the affected people.

The samiti has threatened to gherao leaders visiting Bhuj and also give a call for Bhuj bandh if the state government failed to fulfil its promises on rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, Anjar town in Kutch observed a complete bandh on Thursday in protest against government's failure to provide a proper rehabilitation package. The popular feeling in Anjar is that the state government had failed to react to their needs and demands.

All shops and business establishment remained closed. The residents have decided to intensify their agitation if the state government did not react to their demands. Sixty-three people were on a fast in front of the mamlatdar's office.

Shyamsunder, the co-ordinator of the popular agitation on rehabilitation issue demanded that the state government present a White Paper in the state Assembly on steps taken for relief and rehabilitation, in the quake-affected areas of Kutch. He also demanded that the government give a full account of its claim of having spent Rs 765 crore on relief after the quake.

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Bhuj residents begin fast over rehab issue Friday, March 30, 2001

RAJKOT: Several members of the Bhuj Punah Sthapan (rehabilitation) Samiti, an organisation of Bhuj residents, have begun a relay fast against state government's failure in fulfilling promises made to quake-affected people on their rehabilitation.

Twenty-four members of the samiti began their fast on Thursday led by Ratnakar Dholakia.

Every day, a batch of samiti members will undertake fast to highlight problems faced by the quake-affected people. Even those not associated with the samiti have decided to join the relay fast every day, according to Rahematullah Jamadar, leader of the samiti.

Jamadar told TOINS that the residents had not received anything except tall promises on their rehabilitation. He alleged that not a single rehabilitation scheme had been implemented by authorities even as people continued to suffer in scorching heat. Most rehabilitation schemes have remained on paper, Jamadar alleged.

The leader of the Opposition in Bhuj nagarpalika, Faki Mahammad Kumbhar also visited the fasting leaders on Thursday and extended support to the agitation.

Meanwhile, the samiti in a statement said their organisation was a non-political one and its only aim was to force the state government to see reason and act fast on the proposed rehabilitation package. The samiti said the government must also distribute financial assistance to the affected people.

The samiti has threatened to gherao leaders visiting Bhuj and also give a call for Bhuj bandh if the state government failed to fulfil its promises on rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, Anjar town in Kutch observed a complete bandh on Thursday in protest against government's failure to provide a proper rehabilitation package. The popular feeling in Anjar is that the state government had failed to react to their needs and demands.

All shops and business establishment remained closed. The residents have decided to intensify their agitation if the state government did not react to their demands. Sixty-three people were on a fast in front of the mamlatdar's office.

Shyamsunder, the co-ordinator of the popular agitation on rehabilitation issue demanded that the state government present a White Paper in the state Assembly on steps taken for relief and rehabilitation, in the quake-affected areas of Kutch. He also demanded that the government give a full account of its claim of having spent Rs 765 crore on relief after the quake.

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