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March 26, 2001 - March 26, 2001

Vadodara telecom launches card service Monday, March 26, 2001

VADODARA: Now Barodians too can avail the services of India Telephone Card, more popularly known as Virtual Card Calling (VCC) service with the launch of intelligent network services by Vadodara Telecom. Through the pre-paid VCC of various denominations the subscribers can make local, STD and ISD calls from any telephone by dialling toll-free no.160233.
"VCC have become very popular in the metro cities and we are confident that the people of the city will also welcome it", said Rakesh Babu, general manager, Vadodara Telecom in a press conference. Initially, the VCC will be available in different denominations of Rs.105, Rs.210, Rs.525 and Rs.1050 from the four customer care service centres in the city.

Under the system subscriber has to dial the toll free number, i.e. 160233 first, then the card number and thereafter the destination number. For these calls, the phone number from where calls are made will not be charged. The charges would be automatically deducted from the value of the VCC, informed Rakesh Babu.

The pulse rate for the VCC would be less than the usual rate and each VCC would be valid for three months said Rakesh Babu. The department intends to open special telephone booths and customer care service centres to popularise VCC service.

Other services like free phone service similar to the toll-free service in USA wherein the charges for the calls will be recovered from the called party has also been launched. Services like the premium rate service, the virtual private network that allows corporate houses to have their virtual and private networks have also come into existence.

The tele voting service will be very useful for carrying out surveys or polls by the television agencies, newspapers and even the market research survey organisations said Rakesh Babu.

Vadodara Telecom also brought out the first Gujarati edition of the Vadodara Telephone Directory keeping in mind the needs of the rural subscribers of the state. Initially, only limited copies were released with which the response of the subscribers can be assessed. If it gets good response the next edition will come out in July, the general manager informed. The gujarati edition of the directory can be obtained in lieu of the english directory, said Rakesh Babu.

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Principals oppose election in colleges Monday, March 26, 2001

SURAT: Principals of various colleges under the South Gujarat University (SGU) suggested nomination of general secretaries in colleges instead of their election by students. The new system could be introduced from the next academic year onwards, they said.
A resolution on this matter may come to the consideration of Sunday's senate meeting to be held at DBIM.

The move in this direction got momentum after the recent agitation by a handful of college general secretaries demanding the postponement of examinations in the wake of the January 26 earthquake. The internal examinations in various colleges of Surat had got disrupted due to the strike.

One of the college principals told Express Newsline, ``Nominations system is always better than election in colleges. Most of the students are using both muscle and money power to grab such key position and this finally end up in the derailing of the education process in the colleges. These students leaders spoil their careers as well as those of others, as they are always engaged in celebrating cultural day, saree day, chocolate day and many other `days' throughout the year.''

Another principal said, ``Nomination system will be the most suitable one for the interest of the student community. Under this system students will be nominated as general secretaries on the basis of ther merit.''

Speaking to Express Newsline, syndicate member Hosang Mirza said, ``Three years ago, the Syndicate had passed such a resolution at the behest of some college principals, but it did not last long due to the protest from students.''

Another syndicate member, H.H.Patel said, ``If the resolution is passed in the senate meeting, it will come up for discussion in the syndicate meeting. It is likely that the senate will clear the resolution as principals have majority in it. But the final authority is the syndicate and it is difficult get its nod for the suggestion.''

Asked whether he woule support the resolution, Patel said, ``No, I will not support the resolution because certain changes can be made in the entire process but we can't do away with a system which is prevailing over years. It is like snatching democratic rights from the students.''

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Agriculture fair to help quake-affected farmers Monday, March 26, 2001

VADODARA: Gujarat Agriculture University, in collaboration with Krishak Bharati Cooperative Ltd (Kribhco), is organising an Agricultural Fair-cum-Exhibition at GAU's Model Farm near Shastri Bridge on March 28.
The programme will go a long way in helping farmers affected by the devastating earthquake. In the post-earthquake scenario, the fair and the exhibition will serve as a catalyst for speedy development on the agriculture front.

GAU Vice-Chancellor Dr M.H. Mehta said the programme would try to find solutions to the problems related to agricultural production, farm-based industries, dairying, horticulture, fisheries and allied industries.

The programme will focus on the farming community of Anand, Kheda, Vadodara, the Panchmahals and Dahod districts. Dr Mehta said special attention would be provided to women engaged in farming from the Kutch region.

Women far outnumber men when it comes to farming but unfortunately they are the ones who are left out of krishi melas and similar activity, Dr Mehta said. He said women's share of agricultural activity is as high as 75 per cent.

More than 100 women from the quake-affected Bhachau, Anjar and Rapar would attend the programme where they will be given a two-hour training. Like male farmers, the women will also get an opportunity to interact with scientists.

The fair will be inaugurated by vice-president of Kribhco Ramnikbhai Dhami. As many as 30 stalls will be put up at the venue by the GAU, the agriculture department, and non-government organisations like Mangal Bharti. The stalls will be related to horticulture, medicinal plants, poultry, bakery, plant diseases among others.

The farmers will come to know various technologies at the fair being organised for the first time on such a big scale. Farmers will also be able to watch on-farm demonstration of horticulture activities, green house technology and their use in the areas affected by the quake. Farmers will also be provided at a nominal price rooted slips of forage grass ADBN-1.

Meanwhile, Dr Mehta said the university had suffered losses to the tune of Rs 20 crore in the earthquake. He, however, said it was difficult to tell the damage agriculture had suffered in the quake-affected region. The initial assessment that agriculture did not suffer any damage was wrong.

The damage may not be visible but indirect damage will continue to take its toll on agriculture activity, he said. A large quantity of seeds was trapped inside collapsed houses, while many crops would perish for lack of water. Many families have lost members who would have marketed the crops.

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Adulterated ras may not be the way to juice up your life Monday, March 26, 2001

AHMEDABAD: These sellers promise to juice up your life. But the economics involved are very strange. The prices of mangoes range from Rs 25 to Rs 40 per kg. Yet their juice (keri no ras) is also sold at the same rates -- despite the fact that a kilogram of mangoes yields only upto 400 gm of juice.
Quite obviously, the sellers are not getting real and it is not real mango juice that is sold as the much relished keri no ras. Insiders say that a mix of papaya, pumpkin, a little quantity of mango and flavouring is being packed off to unsuspecting customers.

All that the sellers need is a mixing machine and for approximately Rs 12 to Rs 15 per kg they have their product The rate of adulteration of this seasonal delicacy is abnormally high yet the civic body seems strangely reticent when it comes to taking any action against the mango juice sellers.

The adulterated ras is being sold openly at dairies and other shops across the city, but officials of the Health Department of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) have turned the blind eye.

Chandra Parlour, a shop in Naranpura, sells a kilogram of polypacked juice for Rs 30. For customers who want to buy in bulk, the price can dip as low as Rs 25 per kg. ``If you take a kilogram or two, I cannot offer you lesser prices but if you want to buy more, say 5 kg then you can take it for Rs 24,'' he said.

He refused to admit to the fact that adulteration was rampant. ``We have our own mix machine and see the mangoes are lying outside, ready for extracting juice. There is no question of adulteration as we do not mix anything except a little sugar if the juice tastes sour,'' he said. However, he could not reply when asked how he can afford to offer a kilogram of juice for Rs 30 when a kilogram of the cheapest mango costs the same.

Jaihind Sweets at Stadium Circle also sells `keri ras' at Rs 22 for a 500 gm packet and Rs 42 for 1 kg. ``If you want, I can offer you a lower price for bulk purchase and you can be sure that there is no adulteration as we preserve mangoes in cold storage since last year for this year's juice,'' N K Patel, one of the owners said. Jaihind also sells mango juice in bulk through its shop in Kalupur.

The adulterated juice can cause many health problems, said doctors. Dr Deval Parikh said, ``The preservatives used by most makers can lead to acidity and allergic reactions. As food grade colours and flavours are very expensive, the manufacturers opt for cheaper ones, which can cause a lot of damage.'' Dr Rupesh Mehta, who deals with cases of gastroenteritis, warned, ``The consumer can suffer from gastro, with or without vomiting.''

Yet inaction continues. Dr P K Makwana, Health Officer of the AMC, said that no action has been initiated so far this year against any of these manufacturers. ``We have been collecting samples and sending them for tests to ascertain the extent of adulteration but are yet to take action in a single case,'' Dr Makwana told Express Newsline. He admitted to negligence on the civic body's part.

However, a senior city police officer said the police has got specific information about manufacturing units operating from different areas in the city. ``If AMC officials come with us for nabbing them red handed, we are ready to crack down. But we cannot do it on our own,'' he said.

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Pandemonium in SMC over Monday, March 26, 2001

SURAT: The general board meeting of Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) was disrupted on Friday evening when the members of Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) youth wing accused the Congress for largescale corruption during their regime in the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC). This was the second board meeting of its kind which has been marred by the violence.
The demonstration was led by youth BJP leader Deepak Africawala, who alongwith other BJP councillors, came with placards making severe allegations and charges against Congress workers for the corruption during their regime in the SMC.

All action started after Mayor Ajay Choksi suspended Independent councillor Prakash Desai from the general board. During zero hour, Desai tried to raise several important issues, when the mayor refused to allow him to raise those issues, and asked him to take his seat. Desai tried to appeal to the mayor, but the mayor supspended him from the meeting, and asked him to leave.

During same period BJP leaders, led by Deepak Afrikawala, shouted slogans against Congress. Afrikawala and other councillors walked out of the house and held a demonstration in the corridor of the annexe building, where Congress councillors shouted them down, charging the BJP with corruption at high places.

At one stage both parties councillors came to blows. Security personnel stepped in to separate them. But both groups did not miss the chance to abuse each other in non-parliamentary language.

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