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March 21, 2001 - March 21, 2001

Chief Minister lauds govt efforts in earthquake rescue Wednesday, March 21, 2001

The state Legislative Assembly on Monday passed a condolence resolution mourning the deaths of thousands in the January 26 earthquake that jolted Kutch and several other areas on Republic Day. After adoption of the resolution, two minutes silence was observed, after which the House was adjourned for the day as a mark of respect to the deceased.

Moving the resolution, Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel said 20,005 bodies had so far been found from the debris of collapsed houses in four talukas of Bhuj, Bhachau, Anjar and Rapar and some talukas of Jamnagar, Rajkot and Surendranagar districts and Ahmedabad city. The quake has affected 1.4 crore population of the state.

The government, he said, made all efforts to save people trapped in collapsed houses with the help of Army personnel and other rescue teams, including some from foreign nations, who had rushed to the affected areas. It was a Herculean task as nature's fury was unprecedented and caused colossal damage to life and property.

Leader of Opposition Amarsinh Chaudhary said that many more people buried under the rubble would have been saved had the government machinery swung into action promptly. The timely action would have definitely restricted the toll.

Chaudhary was all praise for the excellent rescue and relief work carried out by Army personnel in Kutch and other affected areas. It was only because of the assistance of jawans that a large number of people were brought out from the debris and shifted to hospitals.

Speaker Dhirubhai Shah also joined the chief minister and others in paying tributes to those who have lost their lives in the tragedy. Shah, who hails from Kutch, described the earthquake as the biggest tragedy and wished that it should not recur anywhere. Deputy speaker Upendra Trivedi urged members to cut across party lines and join hands to create a new Kutch. Naresh Rawal, chief whip of the Congress , said everyone had tried to help the victims.

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Opposition bandh gets positive response. Wednesday, March 21, 2001

NADIAD: The main markets of the town were closed on Monday following a bandh call given by the Opposition leaders in Nadiad municipality. However, local banks, government offices, local municipal office, schools and colleges functioned as per routine.

Leaders of the Opposition Maheshbhai Patel and Rajubhai Shah said that Nadiad bandh was total, getting absolute support from the citizens. The Opposition had called for the bandh due to undemocratic approach adopted by the president of Nadiad municipality, Dr Durgaben Jeswani, during the general board meeting here on Friday. Jeswani had abruptly adjourned the board meeting by giving a lame excuse that many members did not receive the agenda of the meeting within the stipulated period of time before the meeting.

However, the ruling party leaders in the municipality stated that the act of the Opposition councillors, who took possession of the Municipal Assembly Hall by remaining there since Friday, was against the norms of democracy.

Earlier, the Opposition leaders on Monday met Kheda district collector B N Joshi as per their appointment in connection with the representation they made on Friday regarding refusal by the president and the chief officer of the municipality to produce the minutes book of the general board meeting. Joshi told them that the matter does not come under the jurisdiction of the collector. They should contact the director of municipality for getting the minutes book, he added.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Nadiad Shaher Congress Samiti submitted a memorandum here on Monday to the Kheda district collector requesting him to instruct the chief officer of Nadiad municipality to accept the proceedings of the municipal general board meeting conducted by the 23 Opposition councillors on Friday and to note it down in the minutes book, according to spokesperson of the Samiti Navinbhai Bhavsar.

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Pak allows 5 out of 27 captured boats to return Wednesday, March 21, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Pakistan's Marine Security Agency (MSA) has allowed five of the 27 Indian fishing boats it captured last week to return to the Indian shores after detaining most of the crew members, fisheries department officials said. Latest reports on the ongoing controversy over trespassing in the high seas suggest that about 133 Indian fishermen, crew members of these 27 boats, are still being held in custody near Karachi.

Significantly, more than a week after the incident, the Gujarat government is yet to furnish details of names of boats and boatmen captured by Pakistanis. While officials in Gandhinagar are still in dark about the developments and claim that details are being put together, much of the information is forthcoming from the fisheries office in Porbander, the town to which most of these boats belong.

The assistant director of fisheries department in Porbander, I C Jadeja said from the information compiled so far, it appears that 144 fishermen in 27 boats had been captured by the MSA, for allegedly venturing into Pakistan waters near Sir Creek. Of these, the 'tandel' of one of the captured boats had managed to escape by cutting th0e ropes with which the boat was tied in mid-sea. Besides, five boats, each with two crew members, had been allowed to return to India after the rest of the crew members were detained.

With 11 crew members having returned to the Indian shores, officials here believe that 133 fishermen could still be in Pakistan. This has been confirmed by the boat associations which have informal contacts with their counterparts across the border. The fisheries department, however, has names of only 128 crew members who have been captured. This information has been compiled with information from the boat associations and the creek passes that are issued by the Indian Coast Guards.

Coast Guards officials said they had information about the capture of 127 Indian fishermen between March 10 and March 12. A senior Coast Guards official said though the problem was 'routine' , it was perhaps the biggest swoop after the Coast Guards had seized some 20 Pakistani fishing boats between March and May last year. The official said the mouth of the Indus river was known the world over for its pomphret and prawn catches and often fishermen drift across the international borders, which are not clearly demarcated, in search of a big catch.

The official said there was no formal contact between the Pakistani MSA and the Indian Coast Guards and the matter would have to be taken up by the Ministry of External Affairs at a government level.

Meanwhile, reports from Porbander suggest that the Kharva community, to which most of the fishermen belong, were highly agitated over the lack of seriousness with which the state government was dealing with this issue. In Gandhinagar, deputy director of the commissionerate of fisheries, J J Parmar, said in all 22 boats had been captured by Pakistan but he had the names of only 49 fishermen belonging to eight captured boats.

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Bandh call given over supply of water from dam Wednesday, March 21, 2001

RAJKOT: The taluka unit of the Congress party has given a Kotdasanghani bandh call on Tuesday in protest against the decision to supply water from the Gondli dam to Gondal town.

A rally was also taken out in the town on Monday and a memorandum was submitted to the mamlatdar.

The people are also demanding that the daily supply of 100 tankers of water to Gondal town should also be stopped from Tuesday.

The leaders of the town said that if the water was supplied like this the 10 villages that fell under the taluka would face a serious water crisis in the coming days. The various trade and business establishments in Kotdasanghani have decided to support the bandh call.

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Ownership disputes clog quake compensation Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Whose flat is it anyway? A question that now haunts the government officials who are in-charge of distributing relief doles in the city.

The reason for their perplexity is explained by this instance: Sundervan apartment in Ranip collapsed on January 26. A couple of months later Rajbakshsinh Rajput and Kirtida Patni approached the Ranip nagarpalika with two applications that were identical. Both had applied for house rebuilding compensation for flat number C 107. Each had some supplementary documents to prove that the flat was in fact in their ownership.

The matter was referred to the district collectorate who in turn asked both the parties to get the matter sorted out in civil court.

"Initial investigations have revealed that in this case both the claimants have documents which prove that in one way or other C 107 had been allotted to these persons by the builder. As this matter has legal connotations, the contestants have been asked to resolve the matter in court," said officials of the Ranip nagarpalika.

From the Sundervan flats, the collectorate received yet another application which did not have a cash receipt or details of cheque transactions in lieu of payment to the builder.

"The applicant said that the builder did not supply them with the documents even after taking possession of the house. In yet another case from the Sundervan flats, the son of the builder and his brother in-law both have ownership documents for one flat. Resultantly we have two claimants for one quarter," revealed a source.

Such cases and many more have been screened and withheld by the collectorate. The Shivalik apartments too have a similar dispute between Rohitbhai Patel and Tusharbhai Patel. Officials of the collectorate says that the former has a possession certificate issued by the builder to prove his case. But as this case too has two persons who apparently own the same flat, the relief dole has been "freezed" by the authorities who have asked for directions from the state government.

The Himgiri apartment of Vastrapur too has contributed to the confusion that now dogs the state authorities. According to senior officials, one P D Soni had claimed compensation for a flat that was owned by his son. A special committee after much deliberation at the collectorate ruled that Soni did not stay with the son whose house collapsed and that both shall be considered as "separate units" and have stopped payment of relief dole.

Shrenik Sumanlal Shah owned a flat and his wife Umaben Shah too owned a flat in Akshardeep apartments. When the couple applied for house rebuilding compensation for two flats, the authorities ruled that since they belonged to a family, would be considered as one unit and get relief dole for only one flat.

For Jagdishbhai Shah and his wife, the authorities have said no to compensation. In this case the couple owned two flats - 401 and 303 in Shikhar - in separate names. But they used to reside in a different house elsewhere in the city. They had rented out the houses to one Sheelaben. After the house collapsed during the quake, the couple approached the collectorate for their share of compensation but were turned down. The special committee looking after grievance redressal decided not to give any compensation as neither of the parties had been rendered homeless.

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