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March 29, 2001 - March 30, 2001

Five year rigorous imprisonment for possession of ganja Friday, March 30, 2001

VADODARA: Additional sessions judge H P Patel sentenced Raising Mohan Parmar of the Ranasar Vaga village near Sherkhi to five years rigorous imprisonment and fined him Rs 25,000 under Section 20 of the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act for illegal possession of ganja here on Thursday.

Government pleader Deepak Vyas said that a raid conducted on the house of Parmar revealed a plastic bag containing 620 grams of ganja.

PSI R D Laskari, who was tipped off about the illegal sale of ganja, immediately informed his higherups who along with a team of panchs raided the house of Parmar and seized the contraband.

The subsequent investigation by PI U M Joshi and the findings of the forensic science laboratory provided enough proof that the sealed material that was found at the residence of Parmar was ganja.

Parmar has already spent 18 months in the jail. If he fails to pay the fine of Rs 25,000 he faces one more year of rigorous imprisonment, informed Vyas.

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Clinton to visit to A'bad, Kutch on April 4,5 Thursday, March 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Former US president Bill Clinton will be spending two days in Gujarat - April 4 and 5 - during which he will be visiting Ahmedabad and Kutch to offer assistance on behalf of the American India Foundation (AIF) for the victims of the January 26 earthquake.

Though it is not known on which day he would visit earthquake affected areas of Kutch, Clinton is scheduled to visit Bhuj, Ratnal, and Anjar. He is likely to visit the sites of Shikhar and Mansi towers in Ahmedabad which collapsed killing at least 175 people when severe quake rocked Gujarat on Republic Day.

Soon after his arrival from Mumbai, Clinton will visit Gandhinagar where he would meet Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and other senior government officials. He will also watch a video documentation on the earthquake which has caused colossal damage to life and properties.

A delegation of Self Employed Women`s Association headed by its founder Ela Bhatt will also call on Clinton as has been desired by him. The SEWA headquarters was visited by his wife Hillary two years back.

A spokesperson for SEWA said, "We have so far no intimation about proposed visit of Clinton to SEWA, we will definitely welcome him as we had greeted his wife who had evinced keen interest in activities of SEWA."

A detailed note on rehabilitation undertaken by SEWA in the quake affected areas will be presented to him.

A group of US secret service is reaching here on Wednesday night on its way to Bhuj for making elaborate security arrangements for former president, a senior state government official said.

A 40-member high-level delegation comprising NRIs and other Gujarati entrepreneurs will be accompanying Clinton during his two day visit to Gujarat. The special plane carrying the group will arrive here at 11.30 am on April 4 and leave for Mumbai in the afternoon of next day.

Clinton, who has been closely associated with the fund raising campaign, will arrive in Ahmedabad on April 4. Apart from visits to some affected areas of the city, where nearly 800 persons were killed, he will also be meeting representatives of the government and non-government organisations (NGOs).

"The details of the visit are yet to be worked out, we will have a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the details of his tour", chief protocol officer Dilip Raval said. He said Clinton was likely to meet the Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and other senior officials to discuss with them the progress of the rebuilding work and how funds could be put to best use. The visit is being co-ordinated by a successful American businessman, Mike Patel, who is part of the AIF.

The AIF, in a press release issued last month, had stated that its goal is to utilise US private, corporate and academic resources to aid in the rehabilitation of 100 afflicted villages.

The first phase will immediately focus on 40 villages in Gujarat. Prominent Indians who have joined the board of AIF are Anil Bhandari, P C Chatterjee, Vikram Chatwal, Deepak Chopra, Dr Suvas Desai, Rohit Desai, Vishaka Desai, Gururaj Deshpande, Naren Gupta, Rajat Gupta , Vinog Gupta, Amul Jhaveri, Kailash Joshi, Ramesh Kapur, Kumar Malavalli, Dr Navin Mehta, Shailesh Mehta, Victor Menezes, C K Prahlad, Dr C Ranawat, Dr Bhimsen Rao, Kanwal Rekhi and Krishna Srinivasa.

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PM urged enhanced coal supply for GEB Thursday, March 29, 2001

VADODARA: The departure of Mamata Banerjee from the railway ministry after the tehelka expose on defence deals may benefit the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) on rationalisation of rail routes for transportation of coal from mines located in parts of the state.

For reasons best known to her, Banerjee was avoiding taking any decision on rationalisation of rail routes despite persistent demands made by members of Parliament from Gujarat and the GEB.

After her resignation, the MPs from the state pleaded with the prime minister to ask the railway ministry to take a decision in the interest of the GEB. "The delay by the railway ministry is proving costly for the GEB," they say.

In a memorandum submitted to the prime minister, they pointed out that GEB's fuel cost per unit is high due to shifting of the coal traffic burden on power houses.

Compared to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh power boards, the transportation cost of coal borne by the GEB is very high due to long distances (average 1,300 km) of collieries from power stations.

The GEB was getting coal from fields of the Western Coal Limited (WCL) for the 860-mw Ukai thermal power station located in South Gujarat. This has been discontinued by the railways resulting in additional transportation burden of Rs 100 crore each year.

The GEB pays for the same quantity of coal transportation Rs 740 crore and Rs 959 crore more compared to Maharashtra State Electricity Board and Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board respectively which is passed on to power consumers of the state resulting in

tariff reduction of 40 to 60 paise/kwh.

The current monthly coal requirement (10.55 lakh mt) consists of

68.7 per cent linkage of poor quality coal (low heat value and high ash) from the mainline field and 31.3 per cent linkage of good quality from Korea Rewa field. Earlier, it was 50 per cent from the mainline and 50 per cent from Korea Rewa,

The cost of fuel per unit with mainline coal and Korea Rewa coal is Rs 1.32 and Rs 1.02 respectively. The burden per annum due to poor quality coal linkage proportion is around Rs 90 crore. Due to poor quality (high ash content) coal supplied at Gandhinagar and scarcity of water, power generation is restricted.

Gandhinagar power station has achieved 53.6 per cent PLF which is less incomparison to other thermal power stations in the state.

The MPs from the state have requested the prime minister to approve the GEB's proposal of two lakh mt of coal from the WCL for Ukai thermal power station.

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City may not get Narmada water twice a day Thursday, March 29, 2001

Ahmedabad: Water supplies minister Narottam Patel has made it clear that it is impossible to provide Narmada water to Ahmedabad twice a day. A few days ago Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel had announced that not only would the city have no water problems but the cut in water supply to the city-dwellers, effective since last year's drought, would also come to an end with Narmada water entering Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation areas. Water would begin being provided twice a day, he had emphasised.

In a statement distributed in the state Assembly on Wednesday, Narottam said the whole talk of providing water twice a day was "laughable particularly at a time when Saurashtra's different regions were still not receiving water even once in five or ten days."

Careful enough not to criticise the CM directly, he instead mentioned the ruling city Congress's demand to fulfil the promise to provide waters twice a day to Ahmedabad.

"We are spending crores worth of energy to pump out Narmada water. It is a very costly affair. We are going to charge the local self-governments for the water. In case the Congress rulers of Ahmedabad fail to pay, then I would have to go in for a drastic cut in water supply to the city," Narottam warned. "The government would then not be held responsible for water shortage in the city", he added.

Politically sensitive for the BJP, an extra water cut to Ahmedabad city had to be effected because of the "urgent need to fill up Ajwa reservoir so that Vadodara starts getting normal drinking water supply." But because of the hue and cry in Ahmedabad over the cut, "we have had to restore the supply to 4 MGD on Wednesday", instead of a mere 1.5 MGD supplied on Tuesday. "The CM had promised 7.5 MGD, though the final plans were for 6.5 MGD", Narottam told TOI. "We hope we are able to maintain a supply of 5 MGD", he added.

Narottam further clarified that a cut in Ahmedabad's supply would have to be effected for at least three days to fill up Ajwa some time in future.

"We also need to fill up 300 ponds in Kheda district, gone dry because of the drought. That too would put strain on water supply to the city", he said, adding, "IPCL and other Vadodara-based industries want 200 cusecs of water from Narmada out of 650 left in the canal, but we cannot give them more than 100 cusecs."

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Bogus firm takes Rajkot youth for a ride Thursday, March 29, 2001

RAJKOT: Eleven jobless youth of the city have lodged a complaint with the police against a Haryana-based firm for allegedly duping them of their money by promising to provide them with a particular type of machinery.

According to the complaint, a Haryana-based firm named Apcolite had opened its office on Tagore Road in the city and floated some incentive schemes. One particular scheme included selling of machinery producing tubelight chokes. The jobless youth were given to understand that if they availed of this scheme they could easily earn a large packet.

Eleven youth registered for the scheme and paid up Rs 35,000 each. The firm representatives assured them that the company would provide them with the necessary raw material and buy the end product. They also promised to pay them Rs 10 per choke produced. However, they waited in vain for the promised raw material to arrive. Instead they found that the firm had closed operations and vanished. The youth said the firm was run by three persons who identified themselves as Manoj Ravi Shastri, Krishna and Shailesh.

Police have launched an investigation into the case.

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