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March 27, 2001 - March 28, 2001

JAMNAGAR :: Civic body to take up drainage project Wednesday, March 28, 2001

JAMNAGAR: The civic body has sought the state government's permission to complete work on laying of underground drainage in the city, municipal commissioner Pradeep Sharma told mediapersons, recently.

Sharma said the project had been taken up by the state government in 1981 but was later entrusted to the corporation. The project was divided into 12 zones. In the first phase, four zones were taken up, but it could not be completed.

An estimate prepared in 1990 had put the cost of project at Rs 13.42 crore, while in 1993-94 it was estimated at Rs 52 crore. The prolonged delay has now put the project cost at Rs 100 crore.

In the original project, four pumping stations had been suggested, of which three stations were completed at an estimated cost of Rs 230 lakh. The treatment plant under the project is to be taken up by the Reliance Petroleum Ltd (RPL) at an estimated cost of Rs 1500 lakh.

Sharma said underground drainage was a must for the city to safeguard people's health as open drainage is often responsible for spread of various diseases. The rapid rise in population also necessitated its implementation, he said. The population had risen from a mere 34,000 in 1871 to 53,000 in 1901, 55,000 in 1931, one lakh in 1961 and 3 lakh in 1991. The latest census put the population at 4 lakh (5 lakh counting the peripheral areas). By 2011, the population is expected to go up to eight lakh.

Sharma said a provision for Rs 7 crore would have to be made in the budget for the project. Rupees 1 crore was expected to be raised through individual house connections. The remaining amount would be collected through sale of civic properties, bonds etc.

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JUNAGADH :: Ram Mandir priest in Una murdered Wednesday, March 28, 2001

JUNAGADH: A 65-year-old pujari of Ram Mandir was murdered using a "noose", made of cloth, by two unknown sadhoos here at Una recently. The incident reportedly took place between Thursday night and Friday morning. The victim has been identified as Haridasjee Rampriyadasjee.

The noose used by the culprits blocked the air flow of Rampriyadasjee, resulting in his death. The unknown sadhoos also looted the locker before fleeing from the scene.

Police inspector K B Gohil and PSI Mahaveersinh Rana are investigating the case. A strict vigil has been kept at ST bus stands, temples and railway stations to catch the culprits. The help of forensic experts and the dog squad have also been resorted to track down the culprits.

State sanctions Rs 51.50 lakh to provide water

The state government's urban division has sanctioned Rs 51.50 lakh for providing water through municipal tankers to the people in Junagadh.

Out of this, district collector Sunayna Tomar has distributed Rs 3.50 lakh to Junagadh municipality, Rs 7 lakh to Vanthal, Rs 3 lakh to Batwa, Rs 1 lakh to Joshipura, Rs 13 lakh to Manavadar, Rs 2 lakh each to Mangrol and Una, Rs 5 lakh to Chorwad, Rs 13 lakh to Keshod and Rs 2 lakh to Kodinar municipality. This money has been given as a loan to provide water through tankers.

Artist creates record by playing harmonium for 17 hours

A young artist has created a new record by playing the harmonium for continuous 17 hours. Nayan Vaishnav has played the harmonium constantly for 17 hours at Alpha School here, displaying various ragas from his repertoire like Yaman, Kalyan, Malkauna, Durbaree, Miyan Malhar (the Malhar, which was designed and sung by Miyan Tansen himself) thereby creating a new record.

The earlier record for playing the harmonium for 14 hours at Iskcon House in Mumbai has been broken by him and has already claimed his achievement to the Limca Book of World Records, 2001.

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Legal hitch deprives families of reward Wednesday, March 28, 2001

VADODARA: Illiteracy has turned to be a curse for 75 families occupied in cattle breeding and labour work in Rampur village, 9 km from Jambusar in Bharuch district.

The January 26 earthquake had badly damaged or destroyed the houses inhabited by these families and killed many of their cattle.

Nearly two months after the quake threw their lives out of gear problems have compounded for these penury-stricken families. The houses that these families owned before the killer quake were in names of their forefathers. The existing families neither knew nor thought of transfer of ownership.

So when it came to getting compensated against damaged houses and cattle loss, on paper, these families stood disqualified. "People are in dire straits in our village. This technical problem has made day to day living for about 75 families in Rampur," says Ramesh Libachiya, a volunteer with the Khedut Kalyan Samiti (KKS), an NGO set up by Bhasha Publication and Research Centre (BPRC).

KKS along with Punervasvat Samiti (PS), also set up by BPRC, is helping villagers get back to normalcy. "The population of village is about 1100. Nearly 60 houses were damaged or collapsed in the earthquake. A majority of people in the village depends on cattle breeding and farm labour. But post earthquake the situation is grim", Limbachiya says. He said that out of the total 450 cattle that the village had, many perished in the quake.

"The administration is giving compensation but those families who did not transfer the ownership are left out. These are people with little or no education. Now they are vulnerable and if they don't get compensation they won't be able to stand up again" says PS representative Lalji Prajapati.

He gives example of one Kanchan Chunara of his village. "The house that Kanchan lived belonged to his late Uncle Jetha Chunara. Kanchan had cared for his late uncle till the time he died. His uncle, when he was alive, gave this house to Kanchan but they did not know about the formal procedure," Prajapati said.

In the earthquake, Kanchan's house was badly damaged. As there was no legal document that the house belonged to Kanchan Chunara he has not been given any compensation, Prajapati says.

Cattle breeder Dalpat Khuman Parmar and farm labourers Chhatrasinh Chhagan Parmar and Manubhai Badher have similar tales.

"They never knew about these formal procedures. For many villagers the government procedures are like a difficult conundrum. However, if the administration considers their case and compensates them against their losses due to earthquake they will be able to get on with their lives", says social worker and teacher with Jambusar College Dhirubhai Patel.

The BRPC through PS and KSS is trying to rehabilitate and give employment to Rampura villagers. "We have set up a revolving fund. The villagers are engaged in PS and KSS and are working hard to cope up with the situation. I think district administration should find out some way to deal with the technical snag that is depriving some families from getting compensated," said G N Devy of BPRC.

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RAPAR :: Permanent structures cheaper than shelters? Wednesday, March 28, 2001

RAPAR: Temporary structures for Rs 200 per square feet. Permanent quake-proof structures for Rs 100 per square feet. Not much of a choice one would say, but the state government does not seems to be seeing a blatant contradiction here.

Authorities of Bhuj have assigned the task of building temporary structures for the offices of the district administration to local contractors at double the cost in comparison to other structures being set up in Kutch villages, by agencies from outside Gujarat.

According to chief engineer P N Pandya, looking after construction of these structures in Bhuj, as many as 250 such office premises are coming up in Bhuj. Apart from the 13 court premises which are being developed by Sintex, the other premises are being developed by a private agency, which in the public tender had quoted a price of Rs 50,000 for setting up each temporary unit covering about 240 square feet. The costing thus comes out to be a little over Rs 200 per square feet.

Pandya says, each unit would have an ACC (asbestos-cement corrugated) sheet roofing, with the covering bodies made up of 'bison' boards (specially developed boards with cement and saw dust). The frame of the building would be of lightweight steel and the structures being temporary would have a foundation of about one foot.

Interestingly, the prices of similar structures, but of permanent nature, being developed by the Haryana Police Housing Corporation (HPHC) are much less. According to the chairman cum managing director B R Lal, "Haryana has sanctioned Rs 40 lakh with which we are constructing permanent structures, covering a total area of 40,000 square feet, at various places in Rapar taluka."

Lal, a senior IPS officer, who is stationed in Rapar for supervision of the construction work, said, "We are constructing permanent quake-resistant community halls in 19 different villages of the taluka, and also a police station at the Rapar town. Each village is being provided with a structure of 2,000 square feet area, having four rooms of 400 square feet each and a verandah space of 400 square feet."

While these constructions of Rapar seem to be cheaper, authorities at Bhuj say construction rates vary with quality.

Bhuj collector Anil Mukim says the contracts were awarded after chief engineers and other constructional engineers had examined the quotations and assessed the quality of construction of the structures.

Agreeing to the fact that there were constructions coming up in other parts of the Kutch district at cheaper rates, Mukim said, "They must be using different material, because surely durability of our structures is more."

A comparison of structures in Rapar and Bhuj shows that the houses in Rapar are being constructed with the same ACC sheets on top and the same bison board forming the body. In fact, the bison boards, procured from Hyderabad in the Rapar construction, are thicker than the ones being used in Bhuj, ensuring better insulation during scorching summer months.

Also, the bases of the structures at Rapar are quake-proof, having a continuous concrete ring beam at the foundation, giving the structure a monolithic form. The concrete mix is poured only after the basic frame of the entire structure is ready. This gives it a sturdy form.

"Also the plinth beam is embedded in the soil, so as to prevent the structure from getting uprooted," says the chief engineer of HPHC, P C Gupta.

The structures in Bhuj do not have a monolithic foundation which makes them temporary, vulnerable to earthquakes and costly too.

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Surat youth need sex education: Study Tuesday, March 27, 2001

SURAT: Lack of sex education has left majority of the students in the age group of 16-18 years in the city with little knowledge about various aspects of human reproduction, making them vulnerable to unhealthy sexual attitude.

A study conducted recently among students of class 11 and 12 in secondary schools by the city-based General Physicians' Association found that most of the students were ignorant about the minimum required days for conception, knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and concept of safe sex and contraception.

Over 90 per cent of boys and girls knew about AIDS but were unable to differentiate between other STDs and various fertility-related disorders, according to Dr Hitendra Thakore. Over 67 per cent of boys and 89 per cent of girls had no knowledge or idea about these sexual disorders including prevention of STDs.

Use of condoms appeared to be the most known fact among them, followed by monogamy as means to avoid unsafe sexual practice, Thakore said. However, only half of the boys and one-third of the girls under study showed their awareness about these safe sex methods.

Avoidance of extra marital relations was cited by only one-fourth of the students as a means to safe sexual practice and more emphasis was laid on abstinence from sex or celibacy, the study revealed.

The training followed by evaluation of perceived awareness about sex education among the students consisted of lectures on various aspects in small batches of 50 students and that too in the regional language.

The lectures were on anatomy and physiology of reproductive systems, various STDs and their prevention, prevalent myths about sex and sexual behaviour, conception and contraception, Thakore elaborated.

Though AIDS was not covered separately in the training, it was emphasised adequately while discussing various STDs by a team of trainers comprising one psychiatrist, one gynaecologist and a general physician.

Significantly, the study revealed that preferred sources of sex education among both boys and girls were doctors and health workers, followed by school teachers. Parents were preferred by only six per cent of boys and three per cent of girls while family relatives were definitely not a preferred choice among them, contrary to general belief.

However, a change in the perception towards sex was observed after the training both in boys and girls, emphasising the need for such trainings for the youth.

Thakore informed that more than two-third of boys and nearly 10 per cent of girls found the duration of the training inadequate while most of the students advocated that the preferred average age for training in sex education should be around 15 years for both the sexes.

It may be mentioned that while efforts to impart sex education for adolescent in developed countries is abound, such efforts are very few in India, a country with increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases.

In the mid-1990's, the Delhi-based National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) attempted a country-wide survey for the need of sex education among school students but nothing concrete have taken shape so far, opined a city-based school teacher.

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