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March 24, 2001 - March 25, 2001

PG degree in environmental science demanded Sunday, March 25, 2001

VADODARA: MS University students have demanded a postgraduate degree programme in environmental science. At present, the university is offering a bachelor's degree and a PG diploma in the subject. The demand for a PG degree course was raised by a students delegation led by MSU Students Union general secretary Bharat Dangar. The students also submitted a memorandum was also submitted to pro vice-chancellor's office here.

"They had promised us that a PG degree in environmental science will be offered soon. The idea was to convert the PG diploma programme into a degree programme. Now the university is dragging its feet on the issue," Dangar said.

Incidentally, the PG diploma programme in the subject is run by the science block of Faculty of Technology and Engineering while the bachelor's programme is conducted by Science faculty's geography department with the support of departments of botany and zoology. Technically for running a new PG degree programme the FTE needs an approval from All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). Sources said that the AICTE was unlikely to give such a permission to the FTE.

Students, on the other hand, suggests that the PG degree in environmental science should be termed as master's programme which can be technically run under the science faculty. "The students may study in science block of technology faculty and let the science faculty award the degree, we don't mind. Neither does the two faculties should have any objection", Dangar said.

Significantly even university officials are reckoning the said suggestion. PG diploma environmental science co-ordinator and head of BSc (environmental science) programme N M Bhatt, science faculty dean N V Patel and head of geography department Jayshree De are likely to hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the proposal.

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Jewellery shop looted Sunday, March 25, 2001

VADODARA: About three unidentified robbers looted Mahalaxmi Jewellery shop in Fatehpura on Saturday. According to the complaint lodged by shop owner Nandkishore Soni, jewellery worth Rs 36,000 was stolen.

"Posing as buyers, they had asked for rings and other ornaments. Than suddenly one of the three caught me by collar and threatened to kill me. The other two started picking ornaments and after that all the three fled from the shop," Soni said in his police complaint. He said the looters were aged between 25 and 30.

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Training reveals need for sex education Sunday, March 25, 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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Apathy may land AUDA residents in deep water Saturday, March 24, 2001

AHMEDABAD: It's cause for concern. The rampant digging of borewells in AUDA areas poses a threat to the already receding water levels, but there is still no regulation on the use of ground water. Consequently, it continues being exploited. Approximately 2,000 borewells in AUDA areas take ground water levels down by 2 to 3 metre every year, say experts from Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). Still at least 500 more bores are being sunk in numerous societies, which have mushroomed over the last couple of years.
The repercussions of the extensive digging of borewells by individual societies as well as gram panchayats are alarming. Meanwhile, the authorities be they AUDA, CGWB or the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) remain clueless on how much water is being siphoned away. They have no idea of the extent of damage being caused by the numerous borewells.

It may be recalled that gram panchayats have planned to bring water to the doorsteps of people in hundreds of societies in AUDA areas. This decision has caused more concern than relief. People might be happy now, but experts with an eye on the future are a worried lot.

``Ahmedabad should immediately be made a notified zone on the lines of Gandhinagar if some solution had to be found. As of today, the situation may not seem so grim but the future cannot be guaranteed,'' warns P K Parchure, CGWB scientist.

Potable water is found in aquifers at 250-metre depths this is the water which gram panchayats and other institutions are exploiting. The borewells sunk by societies remove water from depths of 60 to 80 metre. Beyond 250 and 300 metre, the water is saline in nature and not fit for consumption.

``There is water at shallow depths like 10 to 20 metre which may not be fit for consumption, but people can use it for purposes like gardening and cleaning,'' suggests Parchure. Monitoring, regulating and creating mass awareness are among the other ways that experts suggest to stem the problem.

Ironically, the authorities remain ignorant about the extent of damage being caused by these pumps. None of the departments have the exact number of pumps operating at any given time in the city. ``We give permission to build societies and ask people to arrange for water themselves. This they do using a borewell or otherwise. We are not aware,'' says AUDA Chief Executive Authority Bharat Rawal.

``We do not have the means or capacity to enumerate the number of pumps operating in AUDA areas,'' say senior CGWB officials. The GSWWB too claims to be ``involved only in AMC limits'' and claims ignorance about AUDA areas. Estimating that two societies share a pump, the number of pumps jumps to about 2,000. This figure continues to rise even as the water levels continue to do the exact opposite.

The apathy is compounded by the fact that the State Government is not appointing an agency to monitor the situation. Previously, the CGWB head office had contacted the State Government, which said it was busy with drought-relief work.

With no recharging of these resources, AUDA residents may be placed comfortably water wise this summer, but the future is quite uncertain.

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SBI lodges complaint against Classic Co-op Saturday, March 24, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The bullion scam that has landed several nationalised banks in trouble took a new turn today with the State Bank of India (SBI) lodging a complaint against the Classic Co-operative Bank Ltd (CCBL) and gold dealer K L Chowksi in the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Sources in the SBI said after the bouncing pay orders worth Rs 40 crore, which were issued by Classic Co-operative Bank, the bank carried out a detailed probe on the basis of which the complaint was lodged. Sources also revealed that the officers whose laxity landed the bank in trouble may face action. The officers had delivered gold worth Rs 40 crore before the realistion of pay orders.

Meanwhile, the Punjab National Bank (PNB), which is also entangled in the imbroglio, is also considering lodging a complaint against Classic Co-operative Bank.

It may be noted that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which is investigating into the case, has questioned CCBL on its decision to issue pay orders without checking cash in the client's account. The matter came to the knowledge of RBI officials on March 15, when cheques issued by Chowksi bounced as they showed an adverse balance in the name of the drawer.

Interestingly, these pay orders were issued `across the shelf' to Chowksi against cheques drawn on three major nationalised banks. Chowksi had drawn Rs 41 crore on the State Bank of India (Service branch), Rs 7 crore on the Punjab National Bank (Maskati market branch) and Rs 5 crore on the Bank of India (Bhadra branch) between March 12 and 14. The pay orders were in turn presented for purchase of gold from the State Bank of India.

Such was the goodwill commanded by Chowksi that the authorities of Classic Co-operative did not find it necessary to even check his financial standing while issuing the pay orders. On sending the cheques for clearance it was revealed that they are not in a position to be encashed. Even nationalised banks do not provide advances of such a high amount without checking the party's authenticity.

In another development, a meeting of leading bullion traders was held today to pressure Chowksi into paying the banks his dues. It is believed that bullion traders are ready to bail him out so as to save face for their market.

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