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March 29, 2001 - March 29, 2001

Robbers dressed as females rob trucker Thursday, March 29, 2001

RAJKOT: Real life emulated reel life when a gang of highway robbers, after changing over to female dresses, robbed a truck driver and cleaner of Rs 1.82 lakh on the Morbi-Kandla highway on Tuesday night.

This is despite the fact that Rajkot DSP Ajaykumar Tomar has set up an anti-theft squad to prevent such incidents on the highway and in industrial units located adjacent to it.

According to the police, a state-wide nakabandi has been ordered to nab the culprits. The truck driver, Salemamad Osman Majethi (30), a resident of Anjar in Kutch, has filed a police complaint against the seven unidentified robbers.

The complainant said that he and the truck cleaner, Alimamad Tayab Sandhi, had filled up cotton from Anjar and had gone to Kapadwanj to sell it. When they were returning after finalising the deal, at around 11.30 pm they saw two women standing on the highway asking for help. As soon as the driver stopped the truck, five to six people, who were hiding behind the bushes on the highway, came out with knives and other sharp weapons and forced the driver and the cleaner to come down from their vehicle.

They were dragged into the nearby field and robbed of Rs 1,650. The robbers also found Rs 1.80 lakh in cash that was hidden in the body of the truck.

The robbers made good their escape after tying the two to a tree. According to the driver, all the attackers were dressed in pants and shirts while the two who had stopped the truck also wore pants and shirts beneath their female dresses and spoke Gujarati.

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GANDHIDHAM :: People Facing water shortage Thursday, March 29, 2001

GANDHIDHAM: With the onset of summer, the Gandhidham complex has started facing the problem of drinking water.

The supply of water, which was restored after 20 days of the devastating earthquake on January 26, has not yet become regular and at many places the water is impure. It has also been alleged that while in some areas water is being supplied in plenty, other areas are facing severe shortage of water.

500 offer karseva for removing debris

About 500 workers of Group-2001, an organisation of intellectuals of Anjar, offered karseva on Tuesday for removing debris from the town. The workers deployed JCB, loaders, tractors and other equipment for the task at Khatri Chowk and Mistri Samajwadi areas. During the operation, they found various human organs from the debris.

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Rickshaw drivers charge vacation fare Thursday, March 29, 2001

VADODARA: March is proving to be a costly month for parents who have school-going kids. Taking a cue from several city school authorities that are charging fees even during vacation, auto drivers too have now started demanding a three-month vacation fare. This despite the fact that they won't be taking children to school during vacations.

Parents feel cheated but say that though the rickshaw driver's demand is not fair they are forced to pay in order to ensure that the rickshaw drivers would take their children to the school in the next academic year.

"I am not happy with their demand, but I have no option. It would be a hassle to search for another rickshaw driver to take my children to school next year. It is not easy to get a safe and trustworthy rickshaw driver. So, though unhappy with their demand I have agreed to pay up the vacation fare", said a parent Krupa Joshi.

"The rickshaw drivers used to charge one-month summer vacation fare from us every year. This year due to drought and earthquake, the schools have declared a three-month vacation. Unfortunately, both the school and the rickshaw drivers are unnecessarily charging a huge sum as vacation fees and parents have no option but to pay them," said a parent Krishna Patel.

However, the rickshaw union leaders blame parents for encouraging the 'vacation fare' trend amongst rickshaw drivers. "Earlier, when the rates were nominal, parents did not mind paying the additional fare. But now as the fares have been hiked they are unhappy and want to discontinue the trend. But this situation would not have risen if people had objected earlier," said Vadodara District Rickshaw Chalak Union (INTUC) secretary Ismail Memon.

He said that often the school rickshaw owners have rules similar to that set by the school authorities. " It's more of an agreement between two parties - parents and rickshaw drivers. This way both don't have to search for new alternatives in the beginning of the academic year," added Memon.

New Jagrut Rickshaw Chalak Union vice-president Kishore Sinh Devda says "School rickshaw drivers can't charge vacation fare. A school rickshaw driver can take passengers when the school is closed. But they can't charge money, and yet many do take fares for the vacation."

There are some parents who feel that the rickshaw drivers are justified when they demand a certain amount as vacation fare. "The schools charge money as vacation fees and we are forced to pay. If the schools are justified, then even the rickshaw drivers are justified in making such a demand," said a parent Aruba Sheikh.

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Students from Bhuj, Anjar leave for home Thursday, March 29, 2001

VADODARA: Students of the quake-ravaged areas of Kutch like Anjar and Bhuj who were in Vadodara to prepare for their forthcoming exams are now gradually returning home to take their standard 10 and 12 board examinations to be held in April.

Out of 90 students housed in the M S Vishwa Vidyapith hostel here, 52 are planning to take exams next month and have left for home while the rest are planning to take their exams in May and will continue to stay in Vadodara.

A bus left with 52 students to their respective towns and will return with 25 other students who will stay in Vadodara to prepare for their exams in May.

At present 30 students are staying at the M S Vishwa Vidyalay hostels. The students are being given adequate tuition in addition to facilities for boarding and lodging. Nalin Bhatt, deputy mayor Shailesh Mehta and other city corporators who met the children congratulated them on the fortitude and wished them luck in the forthcoming examinations.

Representatives from other schools and youth organisations were also present on the occasion.

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Subscribers react angrily to BSNL billing Thursday, March 29, 2001

VADODARA: City telecom subscribers have reacted angrily to the alleged discrepancies in billing method adopted by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited after removing the STD slab between Ahmedabad and Vadodara from January 26.

The BSNL had introduced 95 dialling in place of STD dialling, terming it a service initiative. However, it is learnt that instead of better service and cheaper phone calls, the telecom subscribers got inflated bills and had to pay through their nose.

It has been established that instead of charging according to 100 km distance (120 seconds pulse rate for one unit of call) for Ahmedabad calls, the BSNL has been charging telecom subscribers in Vadodara Telecom District (VTD) as per the 100-200 km distance category (30 seconds pulse rate for one unit call). The same holds true for Ahmedabad telecom subscribers.

Similarly, before the removal of STD slab between Ahmedabad and Vadodara, the pulse rate after 9 pm every day was 48 seconds per unit. However, after the January 26 notification the subscribers had to pay as per the 30-second pulse rate charge. In other words, a loss of 18 seconds.

"I feel cheated. My last bill is higher than the previous one. I did not quite understand why. The frequency of calls that we made were almost similar to last month. But despite that we got an inflated bill," said S Raman of Nizampura. She said BSNL should rectify the fallacies in billing method. "They should correct their billing standards", Raman said.

"They make tall claims of services but what has emerged is a simple cheating the subscribers. Even before January 26, Ahmedabad and Vadodara was bracketed between 0-100 km distance range. Now all of a sudden how can they say that the distance is more than 100 km," says Atul Menon, resident of Sama area.

Menon also says that there was difference between his last two telephone bills. "That the BSNL and VTD are wrong has been logically established," he said.

"We get huge telephone bills. But even by that standard the difference between last two bills is more", said V Patel who is in the computer supply and component dealership business. "I have decided to register a complaint with the department", Patel said.

Medical transcriptionist N Soni said he too had found out that VTD was calculating pulse rate incorrectly. "They have mentioned in their own notification about charging matrix and billing method. If one compares the method adopted before January 26 and after that it would be clear that the subscriber is at loss while the BSNL is making money," Soni said. He said he too was feeling duped. "I think they (BSNL) owe us a clarification on the issue. If they have deliberately overcharged us, or devised a method wherein we lose and they earn more, it is in bad taste," he said.

VTD general manager Rakesh Babu earlier said the matter has been referred to the office of Gujarat circle chief general manager in Ahmedabad.

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