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March 21, 2001 - March 21, 2001

Governor instructs to expedite rehab of Hare Krishna Apts survivors Wednesday, March 21, 2001

SURAT: Governor Sundar Singh Bhandari has instructed the district administration and Surat Municipal Corporation to expedite the matter relating to rehabilitation of survivors of the quake-hit Hare Krishna Apartment here near Bhattar Road.

He has also instructed to take necessary action against all those responsible for using poor quality of building materials, which led to the collapse of the apartment claiming 23 lives in the January 26 killer quake.

Bhandari was in the city on Sunday in connection with the annual convocation of the South Gujarat University.

According to sources in the district administration, after reviewing the various relief measures for the quake-affected persons in the city, Bhandari had a meeting with the flat dwellers of the Hare Krishna Apartment, who demanded a quick redressal to their problems relating to rehabilitation and also for an impartial investigation into the matter to book the builders responsible for poor construction of the building.

District collector Sangeeta Singh told TOINS that the governor reviewed the various relief measures given to the quake-affected people in the city and he instructed for all possible assistance to the needy at the earliest.

Around 70 residents of Hare Krishna Apartment asked the governor to intervene in the matter, as till date no action have been initiated against the responsible builders despite several requests to the city police and civic authorities, according to sources in the district administration.

Sources informed that the residents of Hare Krishna Apartment had demanded for ownership rights along with permission to form a society to build flats at the site where the building once stood. It may be noted that there had been concerted efforts on the part of the builders to dispose off the concerned land, denying rights to the erstwhile dwellers.

However, as per a ruling of the Supreme Court in 1995, flat owners also have right of ownership of the land on which the multi-storeyed buildings are constructed. Hence the residents of the crumbled Hare Krishna Apartment too have ownership rights over the land, informed a resident and accordingly the builder cannot dispose it off.

Sources in the district administration said that the residents of Hare Krishna Apartment don't have the necessary documents to prove the ownership, as most of them just have simple receipts from the builders. However, efforts have been made to prepare all the necessary documents and out of the 70 flat dwellers, documentation in 60 cases have been finalised and for the rest things would be settled in a couple of days, sources informed.

SMC officials too were instructed by the governor for providing alternative accommodation to the quake-hit people in the city. Flats built under the economically weaker section scheme by the SMC had been offered to all those whose houses were destroyed in the tremor, civic officials said.

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Jewellery worth Rs 45 lakh looted at Lambe Hanuman Road Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Six armed intruders, posing as customers, looted a jewellery shop in broad daylight on Lambe Hanuman Road and decamped with gold ornaments worth Rs 45 lakh.

A red alert was declared in the city following the incident and a massive combing operation launched. According to police, around six persons came in a jeep to Pramukh Jewellers in Panchratna Towers around noon on Monday, posing as customers. After looking at some items and reviewing the situation, they flashed out revolvers threatening to kill the salesmen at the counter, looted nine kg in gold ornaments and fled in the jeep. They looters were in their late twenties.

City police commissioner Vineet Kumar Gupta said neighbouring districts and states too had been alerted. They were trying to identify the identity of the looters.

Panic gripped jewellery shops on Varachha Road and several of them downed their shutters.

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Saurashtra Farmers threaten stir over crop insurance issue Wednesday, March 21, 2001

RAJKOT: The farmers from the entire Saurashtra region, under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), took out a rally in Rajkot on Monday and submitted a memorandum to the district collector. As many as 3,000 farmers participated in the rally.

The farmers have threatened to intensify their agitation if their demands are not met by March 31.

Lakshmanbhai Patoliya, pradesh mantri of the state unit of BKS and Babubhai Vagadiya, president of the Rajkot district unit of BKS, said that if the state government failed to pay them the crop insurance money by March 31, they would be forced to fight against the oppressive state government.

The farmers complained that even 50 years after Independence there was no clear-cut farmers' policy and this was when nearly 70 per cent of the population was engaged in farming. They said in the memorandum that they were not being offered remunerative prices for their produce.

The farmers demanded that the state government and the Gujarat Electricity Board revert to the old system of billing, which measured power consumption according to the horsepower of the pumps rather than having meters.

By making the meters compulsory for the farmers, the state government had done injustice to them, the memorandum said.

The farmers asked the government to provide proper housing to them in the quake-affected areas of the region.

Later, addressing the farmers, Patoliya said the GEB authorities were forcing the farmers to install the meters. He said that though the farmers were being supplied power at 40 paise per unit, there was no guarantee that the rate would not be hiked to Rs one, once the new power tariff was introduced for farmers.

Patoliya said that during 1998-99 there was the killer cyclone, for the next two years there was drought and this year the farmers were hit by the quake as a result of which they were in poor financial condition. He said the BKS was pained to note that even though the BJP had 21 MPs it had not been able to get the grants for farmers from the central government.

He said the central government should walk out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The BKS would launch a signature campaign from March 31 to April 7 to create an awareness amongst the farmers of the evil effects of the WTO agreement, he said.

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Jamnagar district gets Rs 8 cr in quake relief :: JAMNAGAR Wednesday, March 21, 2001

JAMNAGAR: Under the scheme for quake-hit areas implemented by the state government in Jamnagar district, Rs 8 crore has been allotted so far, according to district collector Rohit Pathak.

He said during an informal meet that a major part of the allocation, Rs 6 crore, would be distributed in Jodiya taluka which had experienced a lot of damage to property and loss of human life.

In reply to a question, Pathak said that the distribution of relief would be taken up within a week after the applications for claiming the relief amount are scrutinised.

Regarding drought relief, he said that relief work for needy people in villages of the district would start from Thursday. Those villages which had no sources of drinking water were being providing the same through tankers and grass centres had also been opened in talukas besides cattle breeding centres, he said.

House tax collection: The Jamnagar Municipal Corporation has started a campaign for recovery of house tax from owners who have not paid the same. During the campaign, multi-storeyed buildings, from which recovery worth Rs 3 crore is pending, are being targeted.

According to commissioner Pradeep Sharma, about 15 owners have been served notices to pay the tax within the stipulated period or else their properties would be auctioned.

It has also been decided to open cash counters on holidays for recovery of the tax. "The campaign has given good response," Sharma said.

Bank's branch opened: The Nawanagar Co-operative Bank opened its third branch at Gulabnagar, a suburb of Jamnagar city, on Saturday. On the opening day itself, the bank received Rs 81 lakh in deposits. The branch will render services to the adjoining six villages and marketing yard.

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Former state finance minister Amul Desai passes away :: VALSAD Wednesday, March 21, 2001

VALSAD: The mortal remains of former state finance minister Amul Desai were consigned to flames in Mumbai on Monday. Desai, who had been ailing for the past few months at his residence here at the Tithal beach, breathed his last at his son's residence at Andheri in Mumbai. He was 90.

A medical practitioner by profession, Desai had begun his political career as a municipal councillor in Mumbai. He shot into limelight when he defeated veteran Congressman Morarji Desai from his home constituency in Surat in the 1952 Assembly elections. Later, he was instrumental in establishing the base of the Congress led by Indira Gandhi in the southern Gujarat in late sixties.

Desai was associated with Jayprakash Narayan and Chandrashekhar following differences with Indira Gandhi. For a large part of his political life he strove to uplift the poor. A voracious reader and an articulate speaker, Desai was leading a peaceful life with his family members after retiring from active politics.

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