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March 20, 2001 - March 21, 2001

Rajkot branch of Madhavpura bank opens Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Banking activities resumed at the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank's Rajkot branch on Monday and people flocked to the bank to get back their money.

According to bank officials, the people were being returned just Rs 1,000 per head from their current and saving deposits. No money was being given against the fixed deposits. As many as 200 people had got back their money till 4.30 pm.

The account holders would be paid just once and they would not be allowed to withdraw again till further orders, the bank officials said.

A long queue of people was seen outside the bank office near Gaisford talkies, which had stopped functioning from last Tuesday. Tempers ran high as the bank officials did their duty in the usual manner while the queue outside was lengthening.

An old lady, Dudhiben, had come with five of her fixed deposit receipts but had to go back as they were refused. The 65-year-old lady was virtually in tears as the money was part of the savings of her dead husband. The bank officials refused to divulge when the deposit holders would be paid their money.

According to a rough estimate, Rajkotians have invested upto Rs 50 crore in bank deposits and most of the money is from the social and voluntary organisations and some small-scale unit owners.

Many customers complained that the bank staff was unusually taking a long time to clear their cheques despite the fact that they had known most of the customers and their specimen signatures.

On the other hand, the bank officials said, "We have to be doubly sure that the money did not fall into the wrong hands and hence this extra cautious approach".

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Govt fails to supply water by March 15 to Junagadh Tuesday, March 20, 2001

"Junagadh will definitely get water from the Mahi-Pariej scheme by March 15," state urban development minister and incharge minister for Junagadh Parmanand Khattar had thundered. Even three days after that, there is no sign of water from the scheme.

Junagadh, Mangrol and Keshod, which were promised water by March 15 continue to reel under water crisis. The worst affected are Keshod and Manavadar where women have to track miles in search of water.

The residents of Manavadar are being supplied water which is yellowish in colour and stinking while the farmers have no water and fodder for their livestock.

Meanwhile, the authorities of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation and the people are worried over the dual policy adopted by the state government as far as giving water to Rajkot city is concerned. While on the one hand the government is talking of giving water from the Mahi canal, on the other hand it is talking of giving water from the Aji-3 project.

The water supply board or the state government has still not made its stand clear or even given any estimate as to what cost the civic body would have to bear for supplying water to Rajkot city.

In a clever move, the state government has moved swiftly to divert any public ire against it. For this they have announced prematurely that Narmada water would be supplied to Rajkot from the Mahi-Pariej scheme. But what the government has not announced deliberately is the quantum of water that would be made available to Rajkot.

To rub salt on the wounds of the municipal corporation, the state government or the water supply board have not given anything in writing to the civic body.

It is also no secret that the BJP government is keen to play the water card against the RMC which is controlled by the Congress and hence it would not let go any opportunity to arm-twist the RMC on the water front.

The state government is boasting that Narmada waters were brought to Saurashtra in a record time of 120 days and supplied to people of Bhavnagar and Amreli. But inquiries with the Bhavnagar collector's office and water supply officials reveal that Bhavnagar has not yet received a drop of water. Even the district officials are in the dark about the quantum of water that would be made available to them from the project.

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`Lignite' discovered in Hasanpar village Tuesday, March 20, 2001

RAJKOT: A large quantity of lignite-like substance has been recovered by the district administration in Hasanpar village in Wakaner taluka of Rajkot district. District Collector P N Patel said a team of officials from the Mines Department will visit the area on Monday to determine what the substance is.
Patel said it could not be lignite, adding that in Surendranagar a large amount of such material neither coal nor lignite was found. At first glance it appeared that it was ``a material of slightly better grade then coal.'' Only laboratory tests would tell what exactly it was, he added.

Patel said if it was a ``carboninaous cell'' then it would come under the State Government and permission for mining would be given by the Collectorate. However, if it was lignite it permission would be required from the Centre.

However, the Collector did not rule out the possibility that the substance discovered was lignite as a large quantity of lignite was found in areas of Kutch and Bhavnagar recently. It was discovered after earth in the area was dug nearly three feet below the ground level. Villagers found it a good fuel and started using it instead of coal.

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Mango mania on the rise among Rajkot residents Tuesday, March 20, 2001

RAJKOT: Mango mood is here again for people of Saurashtra and it is time to rejoice. Keri no ras might have been a costly affair last year, but this year it seems that mango lovers have much to cheer about. Early trends indicate that the mango crop this year has been good, and will keep prices of the `King of The flow of the mango in the region is from all parts of the State as well as from other parts of the country. This time, the juicy fruit is available a little earlier than the season and at prices almost 30-35 per cent lower than those last year.
The market is flooded with varieties of mangoes like Hapus, Lalbaug, Payri, Tota, Dadmi and Mangol. However, the most popular variety of mango Kesar which is mainly cultivated in Saurashtra is expected to arrive in the market in 10 to 15 days.

Mangoes started arriving in the Rajkot market from States like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu a little earlier than usual this time. ``Normally mangoes from all these States are available by the end of March, but this time varieties like Hapus from Ratnagiri and Lalbaug from Bangalore have started arriving in March beginning,'' said Sunil Jasani of Ramlal and Sons Seasons Store opposite Jubilee Market.

Besides, due to good crop in these States, the number of mangoes reaching Rajkot is double that of last year. Observers in the market say last year the flow of mangoes by this time was only 30 to 35 per cent of the total, but this year about 60 to 65 per cent has already reached city markets. The marketing yard receives 10 tonnes of mangoes daily and other dealers receive about 300-500 boxes of mango per week, said Jasani. During peak season the flow is expected to touch 20 to 25 tonnes per day in the marketing yard.

Saurashtra's own varieties like Payri, Tota, Badami, Mangol and Hapus will hit the market earlier than was expected. Talala of Junagadh district and Kutch district lead in mango cultivation in Saurashtra and Valsad mangoes are also famous.

This season, there is also a significant increase in flow of mangoes from all these regions. From Talala the flow is 65 per cent more, 80 per cent from Kutch, 70 per cent from Valsad, said Valjibhai Velabai, a dealer at Sadar Bazar here. The good yield has already affected prices as even at the start of the season, the rates of various varieties are 30 to 35 per cent lesser than during the same period last year. In Jubilee Market, Hapus costs Rs 100 per kg as compared to the Rs 150 per kg it cost last season. The same is the case with Lalbaug, which costs Rs 50 per kg against Rs 75 last year.

Payri is available for Rs 30 per kg and Tota for Rs 10 per kg. Though the size of fruits from Saurashtra is comparatively small this season due to the drought, it has not affected the quality the mangoes are extremely juicy and sweet.

According to Valjibhai, the flow of mangoes will increase in a month and prices will further go down. All local varieties are expected to be available at Rs 15 to 20 per kg, he said.

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Bhartiya Kisan Sangh plans signature campaign in State Tuesday, March 20, 2001

RAJKOT, MARCH 18: More action is in store from the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) in its mass rally on March 19 at Rajkot. A signature campaign to collect around two crore initials from villagers in Gujarat is planned. BKS will start collecting signatures of farmers from April 12 which will continue till May 3. A memorandum will then be submitted to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel on May 4.
BKS has organised a rally in all the district headquarters on March 19 to draw the attention of the State Government toward their demands. The demands include the withdrawal of the 400 per cent increase in power tariff for farmers owing to the international pressures by World Trade Organisation issue and the falling price of edible oil.

Elaborating the future plans, BKS Gujarat State general secretary Lakshman Patodia said if Government fails to meet their demands they would think of a further course of action to pressurise the Government. However, BKS members say that agitation will be non violent.

Dismissing the statements of some of the office bearers in the past as desperate outbursts, Patodia said the Sangh would only fight out the issue in an acceptable manner. There would not be any hasty or ill-mannered form of agitation this time, he added.

During the agitation held in October last year, the president of the Saurashtra unit of BKS had mentioned a number of aggressive steps, to bring a positive end to their agitation like `kidnapping GEB staff and MLAs.' However, this time, they have changed their stand and opted for a more calculated and non-violent approach.

Terming the condition of farmers in villages of Gujarat as miserable, Patodia said more than 500 of them have committed suicide till date. The Government is going in for a number of policies that are against farmers. The policies are all favouring the multinational companies and against the interests of the farmers, he explained.

To add to the woes of farmers, the Central Government, has also come up with suggestion to charge a hefty electricity tariff from the farmers. The power tariff for farmers has been raised 400 per cent. "What we demand is either to adopt policies that bring down the cost of production or to do something about keeping the price of agricultural products from such a fall. On one hand the Government does nothing to make farming easy, and on the other hand, it imports edible oil causing the fall in the prices of groundnut oil, Patodia added.

BKS hopes with the rally and the memorandum to District Collector something would be done for sure.

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