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November 11, 2001 - November 11, 2001

Modi fires back at Sonia Sunday, November 11, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
MORBI: BJP leaders led by Chief Minister Modi on Saturday blasted Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her remarks against the BJP ministry in the state, made while addressing a farmers rally in Mehsana on Friday. The BJP leaders were addressing a function organised here by the Diamond Association to felicitate Modi. Right from Modi to agriculture minister Purshottam Rupala and Union minister of state for heavy industries Vallabh Kathiria spit venom on Sonia.

An otherwise impressive function to felicitate the chief minister turned sour when a BJP worker tried to break the cordon and walk to the dais for submitting a memorandum to minister of state for road and buildings Chiman Saparia, resulting in chaos.

The crowd mistook him to be a Congress supporter and shouted him down. The rumpus lasted 15 minutes forcing the chief minister to deviate from his speech.

The tone was set by Rupala who blasted Sonia and even her in-laws. The tempo was kept by Kathiria and then it was left to Modi to tell the crowd, " Sonia follows me wherever I go, be it Shimla, Kunnor or even Kutch."

In what turned out to be more of a political meeting the CM said, "Congress will have to reply to the people for its ill doings all these years. Has the Congress party no responsibility?", he asked the crowd. Modi said that the present suffering of the people was due to the fact that the Congress had not worked all these 50 years.

Earlier, Modi laid the foundation stone for the Maliya canal to supply Narmada waters to the people of Jamnagar and Rajkot. Addressing the crowd at the Navlakhi by-pass off Morbi, Modi blamed the Congress for not installing a statue of Jawaharlal Nehru who had laid the foundation stone of the Sardar Sarovar dam at Kevadia Colony four and a half decade ago. Modi said the BJP had decided to install a statue of Nehru and would invite Sonia Gandhi to unveil it.

The CM called upon the people to use water judiciously as it had "precious" in the wake of consecutive droughts faced by the state. "Had the Congress handled the water issue well, today's government could have taken up development works," he remarked.

Modi sought the help of the people in his endeavour to reach water to all parts of the state. He counselled all methods of water recharging, adoption of drip irrigation and time-tested methods to save water.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]



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Worries over security at ONGC wells Sunday, November 11, 2001

The recent oil well fire at Oil & Natural Gas Corporation's (ONGC) Gandhar oil field has once again brought to light the issue of insufficient security measures at the corporation's oil wells. The need for enhanced security measures, expressed by Union petroleum minister Ram Naik on Friday, was seemingly due since quite some time.

A visit to the Gandhar oil field reveals that several oil wells in the area are uncovered. Christmas trees (an assembly fitted at the mouth of a well) can be seen on various locations without any security enclosures or fencing around them. The only security measures are the security patrols, which keep an eye on the wells.

According to figures supplied by ONGC officials, there are as many as 174 flowing wells in the Gandhar oil field. The Ankleshwar oil field has 151 such wells. In addition to these, there are several wells which have now dried up and are not put to use.

With shrubs growing in wastelands and crops in farms all around, it becomes easy for miscreants to hide and steal crude. According to senior ONGC officials, the theft ranges from the usual tin or barrel stolen by someone for his pumps or motorcycle to oil tankers as it happened in the recent incident.

Security personnel in 12 to 14 jeeps patrol the 174 wells in Gandhar. Those involved in oil thefts are however smarter and keep an eye on these patrols. Sources say such miscreants hide in the fields till the patrol goes by the well and then start their work, giving them ample time for theft.

Said ONGC general manager (operations) A K Sood, "The night on which the fire broke out, a patrol had seen the well around 11.30 pm. The attempt for theft and the fire broke out within hours. The patrols do their job, but it is not possible for them to remain at every well all the time."

Officials pointed out that it would be wrong to say ONGC is the only organisation where such things happen. "The American experts who are here point out that such incidents are common around the world. They have come across such fires in several countries," Sood said.

According to Sood, it was not possible to have a guard at every oil well in the field. "This is not feasible and that is why the patrolling system has been adopted. Fencing was used at some wells in the past, but even that was broken," Sood said.

Ram Naik himself had admitted to the lack of security. When local mediapersons pointed this out to him and asked him to accompany them to a couple of sites, he said, "One needs to check every rice grain to check if it is cooked, checking one is sufficient. I have seen the situation at this well and can understand things."

Interestingly, craftsmen can easily make the tools and equipment required for opening the wells. Police officials working in the case pointed out that those involved in the incident had procured a spanner, used to open the valve, from a blacksmith in Jambusar.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]




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Addt. 30 centres to have WLL service Sunday, November 11, 2001

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will be extending its wireless-in-local-loop (WLL) service to 30 more talukas in the state by the month-end.

This was announced by BSNL's Gujarat Circle chief general manager PK Chanda on Saturday. "Equipment for the service will be commissioned by the end of this month," said Chanda.

Most of the areas selected for the WLL expansion plan fall in the quake-affected regions. Rescuers, in the wake of the calamity, had emphasised the need for an effective communication system. Now Bhuj, Gandhidham, Kandla and Bhachao will have WLL facility. Jamnagar, Khavda and other towns will also have the service.

Speaking after inaugurating a customer care centre on CG Road, Chanda said, "The delay in the cellular service launch in the state will be adequately compensated with developments in the other sectors and by providing better facilities to customers."

Chanda inaugurated a walk-in call centre which, he claimed, would provide personalised customer care services. He said services similar to the dial-1500 facility would be available on the counter which would attend to all consumer queries. A counter for paying telephone bills, which would function from 8 am to 9 pm was also inaugurated in the same premises.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]



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GEB faces tech probs, put Saturday into darkness Sunday, November 11, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
VADODARA: Several towns and villages plunged into darkness on Saturday night as Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) was forced to pull out the main feeders from the system for some time as it faced an acute problem of capacity shortage created due to the closure of the 500 MW unit at Vindhyachal, falling in the central sector, and the closure of one unit each at Ukai and Panandhro, a GEB source told TNN.

There is no reduction in demand of power supply which was expected after the harvesting season.

The sources said that the duration of darkness in the towns and rural areas will depend upon the availability of power.

GEB, however, managed to get an additional assistance of 300 MW of power from the western grid to tide over the crisis.

It also received 90 MW of power from an Essar unit located in south Gujarat.

City-based GIPCL has been supplying about 180 MW of power, the source added.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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IGNOU to spread its wing in the State Sunday, November 11, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has decided to focus on the tribal belt in Gujarat and try and attract more students from rural areas.

This was announced by IGNOU vice-chancellor H P Dixit in Ahmedabad on Saturday. He was here to inaugurate the university's new state headquarters on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway.

"In Gujarat, we have only one rural centre, at Anera, right now," he told reporters before flying back to New Delhi. "Another will open at the Nutan Bharti institution near Palanpur by January. In fact I have met with officials of the state social welfare department and they have decided to fund five more centres in tribal areas in the near future." Dixit, who wants to reach the most remote areas across the country, says he would like these five centres to grow to 50 as soon as possible. "Five centres are not going to have the kind of large-scale impact that we would like to see. It is important to reach as many remote areas as possible."

The university's regional director for Gujarat, Kalpana Mishra, said it had enrolled 30,000 students in the state, which required them to have a new campus. The recently introduced information technology courses required computer labs. Yet another initiative expected to get off the ground in the state is the open university supporting community-based schools, an experiment that Dixit claims has been extremely successful in Madhya Pradesh, winning a UNESCO award.

"While the entire administrative and academic responsibility remains with the community in which the school is started, we conduct the exams of the students. If more than 50 per cent pass, we provide the salaries for all the teachers for one whole year. The project's success in Madhya Pradesh has encouraged us to bring it to Gujarat," he said. The vice-chancellor, who is also a member of the Planning Commission, accepted that they had failed to penetrate rural areas, despite it being one of IGNOU's prime objectives.

It had, however, started making amends with projects like Gyan Darshan, the 24-hour educational TV channel, the 40 FM radio channels under Gyan Vani, and Gyan Vahini, where the varsity will put its entire curriculum for the information technology course on-line on the lines of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For Gyan Darshan, IGNOU has tied up with the University Grants Commission's AVRCs and EMRCs across the country. IIT, Delhi has agreed to provide three hours of programming daily, which, Dixit hopes, will become extremely popular in smaller towns, where there are engineering colleges but no respectable faculty.

In a recent MoU with IGNOU, Prasar Bharti agreed to give it 40 FM channels, of which two are already functional in Allahabad and Bangalore. Another 17, including one in Ahmedabad, will become functional in the next six months.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]



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