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March 25, 2001 - March 25, 2001

Poisoning of stray dogs leads to public outcry Sunday, March 25, 2001

VADODARA: The killing of four street dogs by the VMC staff by poisoning them in the Rajmahal Road area has led to a public outcry and protests from animal rights activists.

Pashu Seva Kendra, an NGO, and Gunda Falia Bal Yuvak Mandal members filed an FIR with the Raopura police against one HA Parikh, a resident of Gunda Falia and VMC official PK Patel on Friday. They said Parikh had a hand in the 'brutal killing of dogs in the locality'.

"In his complaint, Patel had wrongly alleged that the dogs were suffering from rabies and were a nuisance to the residents. Patel instructed his men to poison these dogs "without trying to find out the truth", fumed a resident Dharmendra Vasadia. They are planning to write to Union minister and noted animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi in this regard.

"Post-mortem report reveals that these dogs were poisoned. The dogs were healthy and not suffering from rabies, as alleged by Parikh. The VMC staff can't kill healthy dogs", said Pashu Seva Kendra managing director Meena Amin.

"Stray dogs shouldn't be killed. Instead they should be sterilised and vaccinated. One can't control the number of street dogs by killing them", said Vadodara Society for Prevention of Cruelty of Animal (VSPCA) administrator Kalpana Patel.

She said VMC officials need to look carefully into such matters. "It is ironical that ward officers didn't even care to verify the complaint."

But VMC ward number 5 officer Lalsingh Mulley says these allegations against them are baseless. "According to Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, there is a provision which says that VMC can kill any street dog."

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BHAVNAGAR :: Residents go without water for 3 days Sunday, March 25, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: The Bhavnagar residents, including many municipal corporators, have blamed the civic authorities for their failure in supplying water to half of the city for three consecutive days. The supply was restored only on Saturday.

Ironically, this happened after arrival of the Narmada waters at Sidsar sump near the city, from where distribution was scheduled to begin on Thursday.

CPM corporator Arun Mehta said that civic authorities' avoidable hurry in claiming credit for bringing Narmada waters to the city and improper planning devoid of any alternative arrangements were responsible for the chaos in some parts of the city.

Despite the collective efforts of the state government and Bhavnagar municipal corporation, residents of half the city went without water for three days, in absence of any alternative supply.

According to some experts, the Sidsar sump having a capacity of 10 lakh litres would be too small to function as an intermediate storage unit since 40 mld water is to be drawn and supplied to the city. If there is a break in power supply at Bhavnagar, the sump would overflow within half an hour, the experts added.

However, BMC sources said that the point had been duly considered and main supply line coming from Vallabhipur had been connected to Shetrunji pipeline by an additional loop of pipeline so that the supply was not discontinued due to power failure.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board sources said that the state government had succeeded in conveying Narmada waters to six towns and 30 villages in Bhavnagar district.

BJP spokesman Bharat Pandya, who was in the city to celebrate arrival of Narmada waters, told TOINS that despite all political, technical and financial odds, the Keshubhai government was determined to provide Narmada waters to drought prone Saurashtra region.

"We had thought that laying the Mahi-Pariej pipeline would solve the problem. But, then the problem of not having water in the Mahi river itself posed a new challenge. Not deterred by this natural limiting factor, the state government decided to lift the Narmada waters directly through pumps and today more than 1,100 cusecs of Narmada water is being pumped daily into Pariej talav, from where it is distributed to many parts of Bhal and Saurashtra regions. This remarkable achievement itself substantiates the state government's will to serve the people in real sense."

However, the BMC which has been facing a financial crisis would have to spend Rs 75 lakh per month for lifting 40 mld of water from the Mahi-Pariej pipeline against Rs 40 lakh being paid for using water form the Shetrunji dam.

To control illegal use of water, district magistrate A D Katara recently issued a notification warning the city residents not to connect electric motors directly to the domestic supply lines.

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SURENDRANAGAR :: Residents reel under aftermath of quake, drought Sunday, March 25, 2001

SURENDRANAGAR: Residents of Surendranagar continue to reel under the aftermath of quake and spectre of impending drought. Drinking water in this town is supplied once in six days, that too for half-an-hour, and fodder for cattle continues to lie in the government godowns.

As one drives down the town and surrounding areas, one can see that many houses have collapsed and cracks are visible in most other houses. Women scurry around in search of water with pots on their heads. The source in the neighbourhood could be any obliging tubewell owner.

While Kutch has remained in the headlines for its heavy toll in the quake, fewer number of deaths in Surendranagar has deprived it the status of a quake-affected district, feels general secretary of the Surendranagar district Congress committee and former MLA Hasubhai Vora.

From a labourer working in a pottery unit to a rich businessmen whose factories have collapsed, economic activity has virtually been paralysed for the past two months.

Over two lakh houses have been damaged here. Around 29,556 have been completely destroyed affecting nearly 2.76 lakh population. Eight hundred and sixty-five of 4,160 rooms of primary schools have been damaged. One hundred and seven primary schools have been damaged completely. Twenty-eight primary health centres, 27 PHC staff quarters and 54 primary health sub centres have been damaged in the district which would require nearly Rs 5.72 crore to rebuild and repair.

Around 1,251 industrial units have been damaged due to quake in

the district with the total damage estimated at Rs 16.50 crore. The most shocking aspect of the plight of people whose houses or industrial estate have been damaged is that the government machinery is yet to complete its survey work. As it is, the state government belatedly declared Surendranagar and Wadhwan under seismic zones four and five to make industrial units in these areas eligible for financial assistance on par with those in Kutch.

There is brewing discontent among people and industrial units over the state government's inability to provide assistance. Last week, a rally organised by the Congress in Surendranagar to protest

against the failure of the administration in providing succour to the people drew over 3,000 people. The industries association too took out a procession and observed a bandh on the issue.

That the administration is insensitive is borne out by the fact that in Halvad taluka, one of the worst-hit, residents are being asked to fill up forms which solicit reply on the ownership of house, seek receipts of payment of house tax or rent receipt in case of a house being rented.

Executive director of SUVIKAS, Navin Jobanputra, which has already spent nearly Rs 1 crore on the rehabilitation of the quake-affected people in the district feels the government machinery should not have insulted the people by seeking information on tax payments and like in the aftermath of a natural calamity.

The coming months are going to be crucial ones in the district. The drought has already started to make its presence felt with the administration having already started 49 relief works with nearly 28,700 people employed on them.

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RMC finalises contracts for lifting of garbage Sunday, March 25, 2001

RAJKOT: Rajkot municipal corporation authorities have finalised contracts for lifting and disposing of garbage from different points in the city. The contracts have been given to private parties.

The contracts will be awarded after the standing committee gives its clearance. Contracts have been finalised for 11 wards in the city. Out of 1,540 garbage dumping sites in the city, private contractors will lift garbage from 680 points. The wards from where garbage would have to be lifted by private contractors include ward numbers 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 16, 17-A and B.

Contractors have quoted prices ranging from Rs 11 to Rs 20 for lifting garbage from these points. The prices quoted last year ranged between Rs 15 and 24. Civic authorities, perplexed by the lower rates quoted by contractors, have hiked the earnest money deposit. They have raised it to Rs 10,000 from the earlier Rs 3,000. Contractors will have to clear every point daily. They will have cover the garbage with tarpaulin sheets after it is dumped into the vans.

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Trains timings changed Sunday, March 25, 2001

RAJKOT: The Western Railway authorities in Rajkot have changed the timings of trains from April 1 to facilitate filling of water in the coaches.

There would be an extra halt at Wankaner to fill water in the coaches as the Rajkot station is facing water shortage, a press release said on Saturday.

According to the release, the timings of 6334 Trivandrum-Hapa, 6338 Ernakulam-Rajkot, 9266 Dehradun-Okha and 2906 Howrah-Hapa trains have been changed. The changes in timings would be valid up to June 30, the statement added.

The trains have been given an additional 15 to 20 minutes to fill up water in the coaches.

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