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March 21, 2001 - March 21, 2001

Uncertainty surrounds bill on regularising illegal bldgs Wednesday, March 21, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: A Bill seeking to facilitate privatisation of the Gujarat Electricity Board is to be tabled during the current session of the state Assembly. The Bill - called the Gujarat Electricity Industries (Regulation and Regularisation) Bill, 2001 - will help the state government prepare a business plan for the GEB's long-term reform.

The session has been called to take a vote-on-account instead of a full-scale budget in view of the difficult financial position arising from severe drought and the quake. The Bill is listed among the ones to be presented in Assembly in Governor S S Bhandari's opening speech.

The Bill is essential to the state government obtaining a $350-million power sector loan from the Asian Development Bank. It would also formalise operations of the Tariff Commission, which has been set up to advise the state on revising the current GEB charges to various categories of consumers as also laying down guidelines on tariff restructuring.

The Bill would replace the Electricity Supply Act of the government of India, currently operational in the state. State electricity board privatisation has met with tough opposition in several states of India.

On the other hand, there is a lack of clarity on whether the state government would come up with a Bill seeking to impose impact fees to regularise illegal structures in Ahmedabad and other urban development areas.

Hurriedly put out as the Gujarat Regularisation of Unauthorised Development Ordinance, 2000, a few months ago, Governor S S Bhandari does not mention it in the list of Bills to be placed in the state assembly to regularise different ordinances passed over the last six months. The Ordinance had considerably relaxed the impact fees norms to please builders.

Assembly sources said, "The Bill has not been sent to us to convert the present ordinance into a full-scale Act. If it does not come up, it would lapse."

On the other hand, minister of state for urban affairs Parmanand Khattar expressed surprise on why the Bill on impact fees did not find its reflection in the governor's address. "I was specifically told to place it before the Assembly", he said, adding, "I have conveyed to the Assembly speaker to give me time. Only, a Cabinet nod is a must."

Sources in the urban development department said, after the quake, the importance of the Bill has considerably gone down. Even if it comes up in the coming state assembly, it would have to take into consideration the safety norms, so essential to take into account to make any illegal structures legal through an impact fees. It is well-known that the officials of Khattar's department had opposed the Bill when it was sought to be brought as ordinance last year. Yet, Khattar went ahead it, saying it was essential to stop the indiscriminate demolition drive in towns and cities.

Yet another major Bill to come up would be the Gujarat Gas (Regulation and Distribution, Supply and Delivery) Bill, 2001, which would seek to regularise the ordinance passed a few months ago after a wary Governor delayed its clearance for more than a month.

The governor had wanted to know why the ordinance was sought to be "pushed" in December-end, at a time when the Assembly was to meet within a few months. The state government's explanation was that this would regulate the gas grid it was seeking to implement in the state, with government having all rights.

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Wankaner bandh on Thursday :: WANKANER Wednesday, March 21, 2001

An all-party meeting on Monday gave a Wankaner bandh call on Thursday in protest against the state government decision to put Wankaner in seismic zone 3.

The people have also formed a Lok Sangarsh Samiti to protest against the state government decision.

Hundreds of people from Wankaner attended the all-party meeting. The meeting demanded that the entire Wankaner region should be put in zone 4.

They have also organised a public meeting at the Market Chowk on Tuesday night in which the prince of Wankaner and former minister for environment Digvijaysinh, together with the local BJP legislators, would address the people.

It is probably for the first time that the local BJP and Congress leaders have come on the same platform.

The leaders have also announced a 'maha rally' on Thursday to coincide with the bandh. The rally would first garland the statue of Amarsinh Bapu, erstwhile ruler of Wankaner, before moving round the entire town and culminating with the submission of memorandum to the authorities.

The local ceramic industry, the district and taluka panchayat and various trade and commerce would join the bandh and the rally. The people are also fighting the injustice done to them in the relief operation. The people unanimously said that the government had done injustice to them by putting them in zone 3 while experts say that Wankaner falls under zone 4. They have decided to fight this injustice.

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Discrepancy in Junagadh census :: JUNAGADH Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Large-scale discrepancy has been noticed in census work carried out in Junagadh. Thirty thousand people have not been accounted for in the census, a social group in Junagadh has alleged.

The Madhur Social Group alleged that a large number of people had not been accounted for in the census just to deprive Junagadh the status of a corporation.

Sources in the nagarpalika told TOINS that census had not been conducted in new areas like Ambawadi, Joshipura, Girirajnagar, Zanzarda and other areas like Vishotibaugh, Jamalwadi and Mullawada. People here had complained that census workers did not visit their locality.

Salim Gujarati, convenor of the Madhur Social Group said those who were not counted in the census, were asked to fill up a separate form. Two thousand and five hundred people have so far filled such forms.

Gujarati alleged that some powerful builders were keen to see that Junagadh was not accorded the status of a corporation.

It was also pointed out that there was a wide gap between the ration cards issued and the census records.

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Women protest against non-availibility of water :: JUNAGADH Wednesday, March 21, 2001

JUNAGADH: Women of Kalwa Chowk area in the city went to the local police station on Sunday and protested against the non-availability of water in the area for the last six days. The protesting women shouted slogans and stopped the traffic. They stopped the demonstration only after they were assured redresal by municipal president Aarti Joshi.

During the interrogation by Junagadh police, Ramji Jeeva, a person from Anjar (arrested in the case of vehicle theft) was areested from Lirbai Para inJUNAGADH on 18th March. He had agreed to the local crime branch that he only had stolen the HeroHonda no. GJ 11 222 and had said the police that the original no of that vehicleis GJ 11 E 4378 from TALALA. He had also showed the place where he had buried two country made Pistols (Tamancha), which he took out of the land. Police has seized these small gunsand have registered the crimes.

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Vice-chancellor locks up students in his chamber Wednesday, March 21, 2001

RAJKOT: Student leaders of Saurashtra University got a taste of their own medicine on Monday when they got locked into vice-chancellor Kanubhai Mavani's chamber, when they tried to gherao him, over the issue of general options in examinations.

Fifty members of the Saurashtra University Students' Union had tried to gherao the vice-chancellor on the issue of options at post-graduate level examinations, which the vice-chancellor is opposed to. As students raised slogans against Mavani for refusing to entertain their demands, Mavani stoutly refused to give in and locked up the students in his chamber. He even sought to know their names and classes in which they studied.

Caught on the wrong foot, students left the campus.

Mavani said students had every right to protest but could not use force or intimidating tactics on a vice-chancellor.

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